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Right Brain Teacher Profiles – Benjamin Fong and Gabriel Gonzalez

March 21st, 2016 by Kelsey Gray


We’re pleased to share another story of teacher experience with The Right Brain Initiative. Learn about the animating impact Right Brain has had upon teachers Benjamin Fong and Gabriel Gonzalez, as well as the powerful ways the two have seen the program make meaningful change in their students’ lives and learning.

fong and gonzalez profile

Benjamin Fong and Gabriel Gonzalez are on a mission. They work at WL Henry, a fiercely proud English/Spanish bilingual school where 100% of students are on the free and reduced lunch program. They are committed to doing whatever it takes to get all their students learning, feeling supported and excited about coming to school.

Several years ago, the two teachers, both lifelong musicians, began inspiring one another to bring music to their kids. “The kids at this school are second language learners of English and Spanish, so it’s great for them to practice language through music,” Benjamin said.

fong quote

When the school became a Right Brain partner, they attended workshops and learned how to add movement to the music, and reach all their students, regardless of language capacity. “Right Brain opened my eyes to tapping into some other mediums,” Gabriel said. “I felt like a fool that we weren’t pushing the boundaries more.”

In Spring 2015, the teachers worked with Right Brain teaching artist Bobby Abrahamson, who has a background in using photography to give voice to those who aren’t typically heard. Students created portraits with accompanying text that connected their personal experiences to literature and history. Many of them reflected upon the fear and frustration that comes with having family members who are undocumented, and what they would do to fight the injustices of society. “In the future, I hope my family gets paid equally as other people,” wrote one 5th grader.

 

WLHenry

Student work from a WL Henry residency with Right Brain teaching artist Bobby Abrahamson. Translation: “I have a fear of being separated from my family.”

Bobby printed every one of these powerful portraits on banners that they debuted in the Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza. This process allowed Benjamin and Gabriel to help kids find their voices in an artistic medium they couldn’t tackle alone. And it enabled them to share their students’ perspectives, and celebrate the richness of their school, with all of Hillsboro.

Gabriel concludes: “All teachers should get a taste of bringing this into the classroom. The rewards are invaluable.”

This year’s progress report is filled with stories of our impact upon teachers and schools, and this is one in a series we’re posting on the Right Brain blog! Read more about the transformative and personal impact we’re having upon teachers and within schools in our latest progress report. Download the full progress report here!

   

Kelsey Gray