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Two Salinas Union High School teachers to teach Ukrainian refugees in Poland

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- The Salinas Union High School District announced that two teachers from their school district will join a delegation on a two-week journey to Poland to teach Ukrainian refugees.

Washington Middle School teacher Gabrielle DeVilla and Alisal High School teacher Patricia Matulas Mason will be two of 15 educators from across the nation to participate in this humanitarian effort, according to SUHSD.

Patricia Matulas at the airport getting ready to leave for Poland.

“I am delighted to participate and help with our AFT program in Poland,” said Mason, a veteran teacher with 30 years of experience who has taught at Alisal High School for the past 12 years. “My grandmother was Polish, and my grandfather was Lithuanian. My great-grandmother was a Jewish midwife in Suwalki, Poland. I have hundreds of distant relatives in Poland and Ukraine. I have traveled to Eastern Europe and Russia. I am proud that it is a part of my heritage and culture, and I am so happy to be able to help there in any way I can. Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity!”

The two will teach English at a summer camp coordinated by the Kosciuszko Foundation, NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief and the Folkowisko Foundation, according to SUHSD.

“I am overjoyed with gratitude for this opportunity to represent my community and the United States through the national teachers’ union, AFT,” said DeVilla, who teaches Science at Washington Middle School. “I will be taking the skills I’ve learned through this district and implementing them abroad. I’m looking forward to sharing my learnings and experiences with everyone upon my return!”

The American Federation of Teachers said the camp is focused on helping Ukrainian children who have been displaced from their schools due to the war. The classes will be project-based outdoor activities using informal English language immersion to build a sense of normalcy.

The camp’s daily activities will offer a recreational, nurturing, and social and emotional-centered experience to help kids cope with the war around them.

The delegation will feature teachers from California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. 

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Ricardo Tovar

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