BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Michael Esqueda love to have fun in his class. The U.S. History teacher from Ridgeview High School finds creating a fun and inviting environment in the classroom helps him relate to his students.
“I’m a firm believer that you’re not going to learn from anybody you don’t like," Esqueda says.
He says it helps his students take what they learn from history lessons and relate it to their own lives.
“For a lot of these students, and I don’t blame them, is that it’s a story. And they know it’s happened, they know it’s true but it’s just so long ago. So on the contrary to make those connection in current day, it’s almost vital.”
While in the midst of teaching the Cold War to his class, Esqueda was able to tie in what they were learning to the current conflict in Ukraine.
“History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself but it sure does rhyme," he said. "And all of a sudden, we're seeing the rhyming aspects of the Cold War in Ukraine."
He said when his students saw photos of current conditions and refugees, the lessons suddenly became less about the curriculum.
“It actually was really cool to see that it was so organic to come from them, I didn’t even think about it, to be honest with you, I wish I did.”
His students began to ask him how they could help. So together, they decided to begin raising funds for the nonprofit Save the Children which has been helping support children in Ukraine through an emergency fund.
More and more, he saw his students understand not only the importance of history, but their own role in it.
“They're hard conversations to have. All of a sudden their world doesn’t just come out of their neighborhood, their school, their community. They actually understand and know, oh shoot there’s a bigger world.”
For Esqueda, seeing his students step up in such a way is a dream come true.
“I think that’s what every teacher wants to get to. That they can actually make a difference, they can make a dent in this world, and if they believe that, if I can get them to believe that, which is true, then I think they’ll be able to believe in themselves.”
If you'd like to help contribute to the fundraiser, you can find out how to here.