La Buena Tierra Preschool and Primary School – MEXICO
A Great School Year as Children Return to In-Person Classes
The children at La Buena Tierra are very happy to be back at school this year. Here they have art, music, PE, celebrations, and lots of reading, math, social studies, and books. In their crowded homes, there usually are no books, no computers, few toys and no yard to play in. Years ago, families in this neighborhood built improvised houses of wood, metal, and cardboard alongside abandoned railroad tracks. Gradually these homes have been improved, but the families are still extremely poor.
Paintings by a fifth-grade student and a fourth-grade student.
The school provides many special opportunities. This fall the students of La Buena Tierra Elementary School had classes from an Argentine artist who brought out the children’s artistic abilities. They all made several beautiful paintings like those shown above. Then they chose a color and painted a board on which to mount their work. The students also planted vegetables, so that these city children could learn about gardening and eat the results of their work. Another special activity this year was an Independence Day program presented for parents.
Many of the students receive the neighborhood’s most needy kids receive half-tuition scholarships. These enable them to have an excellent education at a school they enjoy attending. When paying half-tuition is just impossible, parents can do work at the school to pay their half.
Students help keep the school clean.
An Elementary School is Started
La Buena Tierra was started in 1999 as a preschool for children of very poor families who were entering first grade with little preparation. Next, the mothers dreamed of a quality elementary school. The children had become excited about learning, but they became frustrated and lost interest in the poor, under-funded and overcrowded public elementary schools.
A small property, below street level and completely full of trash, became available directly across the street from the preschool. In 2009 EPIC was able to help La Buena Tierra buy it. During the spring and summer of that year, the trash was cleared and the first 2 classrooms were built. By September there was a functioning elementary school with first and second grade. Everyone was very excited! Each summer since 2009 another classroom was built and an additional grade was added. The hope was to build a classroom each year until the primary school could offer first through sixth grades. They have now accomplished this! In 2016 they will be graduating their third class of students from sixth grade, fulfilling their long time dream.
Another dream was to have a playground. The students at La Buena Tierra come from families who had built houses of scrap materials along a train track that was abandoned by the Mexican government. There are no yards in this neighborhood and both the Preschool and Elementary schools are on tiny lots with very little room for children to run and play. Then a miracle occurred. A small property right next door to the Preschool was donated for a playground. It was totally filled with junk and a one room unlivable house. In June 2014 EPIC contributed $5,000 to pay to repair and finish a wall protecting the new playground, buy a gate, and put down cement paving. The labor for the work was mostly donated by the parents. Now the Preschool and Elementary Schools are sharing the new paved playground. The new playground means the kids can play outside during recess and the school can have a soccer team and a very small school garden.