Educator and KSPS offer timely programs, curriculum
As the education director at KSPS-PBS in Spokane, Bukola Breczinski applies her background in teaching and curriculum development to offer educational resources during COVID-19 school closures and to support at home and distance learning any time.
Bukola and the KSPS team have been working with the Spokane School District on teacher-produced lessons, which are aired on the WORLD Channel (on air 7.2 and Comcast 313), "Keep Learning," April 27 through June 12 from 7 to 9 a.m. This learning block is repeated from 2 to 4 p.m. These classes are also on the school district's channel 17.
Mondays and Tuesdays, local K-5 teachers do 20-minute math programs with the district curriculum. Wednesdays and Thursdays are on literacy, and Fridays on art, music and PE.
Along with the teacher lessons, KSPS is broadcasting grades 6-12 educational programs from PBS on the WORLD Channel from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. KSPS knows many families lack regular access to the internet. With the Keep Learning Initiative and the PBS educational programming on WORLD, families have access to free educational content on air seven hours a day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To access WORLD, families need a TV and antenna, which they can pick up at an Ace Hardware.
"It means children can see and connect with teachers through the end of the year," Bukola said.
KSPS is also providing families and educators free preK-12 daily educational resources from PBS and KSPS during school closures.
"We are posting resources on our website at ksps.org under home learning and sending daily newsletters to more than 1,000 families who signed up," she said.
"Quality education is an equalizer," she said. "Giving all children access to quality learning experiences improves lives.
"As we support children, we strengthen society. We also help parents be part of their children's education, giving them self-confidence by increasing their access to resources so they can support their children's learning," she said.
A major focus of her work is to create curricula for KSPS' archive of 30 documentaries on regional history, such as the Mount St. Helens eruption, the women's movement in Washington, survivors of Japanese internment camps, three local photographers who captured area history, and attorney Carl Maxey's fight for civil rights.
Her goal is to help educators teach regional history through visual and personalized storytelling found in KSPS' documentaries.
Bukola has also developed curricula for Northwest Profiles, a lifestyle news program that covers local events, people and programs. She is working on a series of lessons on local Native American history, art and culture, from Northwest Profiles to help students learn about native history in an immediate, engaging, personal way.
"My goal is to interest local children and teens in area history so they connect what they learn in class with their own settings," she said. "There are many resources from the national perspective, but the local perspective helps personalize topics.
"Video documentaries use storytelling that engages children and draws their attention visually to address challenging topics they might not understand just by reading a text," she said.
Bukola's passion for teaching and designing curricula began when teaching English as a second language to new immigrants at the international high school at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. Her work helped students settle in, communicate with peers and gain the language and literacy skills needed to graduate.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, she immigrated with her family to Minnesota in 1992 when she was seven, and her father, an engineer, was recruited by Siemens. In Lagos, English is the primary language.
Living in Plymouth, a suburb of Minneapolis, she realized that, other than two other Nigerian families, people did not look like her.
"I did not fit in American culture or African-American culture, and coming so young, I was fully African," she said. "I felt culturally and racially fluid. It's why I value equity."
Despite the challenge of integrating and making friends, she had the support of a high school French teacher who arranged a week-long trip to Paris with her class. The visit sparked her interest in living in a big city and in language learning.
Bukola began studies at New York University's STERN School of Business in 2001, when 9/11 changed life in the city.
During college, she helped low-income second and third graders in Harlem with reading and writing, and then had a work-study experience teaching at an elementary school in the Bronx solidifying her interest in education. She joined the New York Teaching Fellows program, specializing in English language learners.
From 2003 to 2004, she did marketing with Scholastic, the children's book publisher. From 2005 to 2006, she was a marketing assistant with Oxford University Press. From 2006 to 2009, she worked with the Wallace Foundation funding educational leadership, arts and after-school programs.
There, Bukola met her husband Dan, who grew up in Coeur d'Alene, and is now an independent web developer.
In 2010, itching to travel internationally and gain teaching experience, she obtained a teaching English as a foreign language degree and spent the year in Prague, Czech Republic, teaching English to children and adults. She returned to start a master's degree in 2011 at Long Island University in Brooklyn.
At the Brooklyn high school, she built relationships with students and tailored instruction to their needs, helping support their dreams of attending college.
In 2016, she applied for the newly created position at KSPS of director of the education department. She started in August 2016.
With a background in culturally-responsive teaching and curriculum development, she creates resources for local educators and families to make education more equitable, especially for vulnerable communities because KSPS removes financial barriers and puts resources in the hands of educators, parents and children.
Bukola worked with two Gonzaga University master's interns in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) to segment KSPS' 30-year archive of documentaries and develop learning guides. Each guide helps students gain background on a topic, explore it through the documentary segments, and engage in peer discussions and projects to deepen their understanding.
The lessons are posted on pbslearningmedia.org, which is visited by about a million educators each month, she said.
Bukola also leads professional development workshops for teachers. On Feb. 20, middle and high school social studies teachers came to watch segments of "Injustice at Home" on the Japanese internment, and learn about KSPS' documentary curricular and PBS learning media resources.
KSPS has two grants from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to present stories of local Japanese Americans in the "Injustice at Home" series, sharing their experiences of discrimination before World War II, being relocated to and incarcerated in camps, growing up in camps in Idaho and California, and returning to Washington, where they faced discrimination in finding jobs and housing.
"Most never told their children, because their focus was to rebuild their lives," Bukola said.
She also uses national PBS resources for community programs, such as "Every Child Reads," a first Monday pre-K story-time literacy program at the station with a local storyteller reading stories to 10 to 15 children who also do a craft. She also did the program third Wednesdays at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center for 40 children.
"With social distancing, we are doing it virtually on first and third Fridays," Bukola said.
KSPS is also working with county librarians, public school teachers and community members to record read-alouds at home. These are being shared daily on KSPS' website and by social media.
In pre-distancing days, Bukola organized field trips at the station for nearly 200 groups from schools, scout groups, the YMCA and child care centers. They toured the station, learned about cameras and lighting, interviewed staff and filmed a little scene.
In January at the Spokane Homeless Connect, KSPS had a table to introduce an online program, "Sesame Street in Communities," and printable resources on social and emotional issues related to homelessness.
She continues to share those resources on family bonding, literacy, math, trauma and building resilience with local families, educators and child care providers.
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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, May, 2020