Donor Spotlight: Ric and Donna Calleja

24 May 2012

Ric and Donna Calleja are teachers in the Brookline and Watertown school districts, respectively. They have participated in a number of Primary Source programs and workshops, and have also supported Primary Source's work through donations to the Annual Fund. Read on to hear more about the experiences that have helped shape their interest in global education, and why they, as educators, support Primary Source.

Tell us more about your background in teaching and interest in global education.

Donna Calleja

Donna: We met in 1982 while teaching at Mission High School in Boston. Since then, Ric has taught English to adults at the Cardinal Cushing Center in Boston and Spanish for the last 26 years at Brookline High School. I went on to teach Visual Art at Cathedral High School in Boston, Newbury College, Scituate High School, and currently at Watertown High School.

We both teach in schools with a diverse student population. Understanding cultural differences is critical in working with our students and for preparing them for their future in a global society.

Ric: I think of myself as a bilingual, bicultural person. I spent the first 12 years of my life in Cuba, a society that was undergoing rapid political and economic changes. When my family immigrated to Boston in 1969, I had to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. The level of cultural misunderstanding I encountered growing up in this area led me in college to study cultural anthropology, Latin American and Spanish history and literature and methods of language teaching. I decided to become a teacher to promote "an encounter with the other," to help students through the study of another people's language, literature, and culture become more aware of our common humanity, and to increase their comfort level in a complex, multi-cultural world.

What compels you to support Primary Source?

Donna: We learned about Primary Source through the school district partnerships in Brookline and Watertown. I have been a part of many workshops since then because I always learn new content and come away with such positive energy from Primary Source presenters, staff, and the interactions of the dedicated teachers who participate at Primary Source.

We continue to support Primary Source because they always provide quality professional development that supports teacher learning and leadership. They provide opportunities for teachers to learn from respected scholars in global education and to share how they bring global education to their students.

Primary Source is the only professional development I have experienced that brings teachers from diverse school systems, grade levels, and academic disciplines to experience thoughtful professional development together. When I participate in programs at Primary Source, I feel respected for my teaching skills and my knowledge of visual art. I love the interdisciplinary approach to teaching that Primary Source encourages in all teachers.

Ric CallejaRic: These past few years, my participation in Primary Source has helped me develop a more global perspective. I teach about the Spanish speaking world, but my greater awareness of Japanese culture and society, and African countries like Ethiopia, has helped put me in the role of the learner and explorer of other cultures and societies and indirectly has made me a better presenter of my own discipline. Primary Source is a unique and essential educational organization. It does not talk down to teachers. It connects classroom practitioners with scholars who do research in fields like history, cultural anthropology, and economics and who are willing to come and share that knowledge in a creative, stimulating way. It also provides opportunities for teachers to develop their leadership skills by inviting them to present to their peers. It provides life changing travel opportunities to places like India and China. Teachers who learn about the world through reading, lectures, and travel, and teachers who share those experiences with fellow teachers, bring that energy and enthusiasm back to their classrooms.

We at Primary Source are thankful for the support of Ric, Donna, and all of our many individual donors. Your generous gifts allow educators from Massachusetts and across the country to take advantage of free and low-cost global education opportunities to gain the knowledge and tools they need to prepare students for life and work in the 21st century.


Photo captions:
Donna Calleja with Representative Jonathan Hecht at the 2011 Gala for Global Education.
Ric Calleja participates in a workshop during the Teaching for Global Understanding in the 21st Century summer institute.



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