Throughout villages in northern New Mexico, there are countless ways to learn new skills. And while students work to excel in the classroom, the Questa Independent School District has recognized learning opportunities are abundant elsewhere, too.
That’s why they’re implementing an experiential learning curriculum that will expose students to specialized training in fields like carpentry, welding, art, film, agriculture, and more. Logistically, though, transporting students to off-site locations is complicated, as there is a shortage of school bus drivers throughout Taos County. The district has contracted with a private company to get students to and from school, but in order to expand off-site learning opportunities, they would need to expand the contract with that same transportation company — at a cost. With this need in mind, the district reached out to Maria Gonzalez at the LOR Foundation, which ultimately made a small grant that helped hire drivers to support the new curriculum being piloted this year.
“Transportation in rural villages like ours is a recurring hurdle, particularly for students who don’t have access to a vehicle,” Gonzalez says. “When the school district brought up this idea, LOR was eager to help.”
Just last month, local students identified an additional learning opportunity that LOR was happy to support: engaging with Questa’s traditional culinary traditions. While there are several hornos (outdoor abode ovens) throughout town, none are located on school grounds. To address that problem, a local resident worked with students and the school district to build an horno and implement a traditional cooking program at the high school.
Funding from LOR helped purchase tools and adobe bricks for the oven, which became a community effort. Middle-schoolers poured concrete for the project, and Jason Torres and his wife and daughter built the horno over the course of one weekend. The students used the horno to prepare food for the Cosecha event in October and have plans to incorporate the oven into future community celebrations.
Gonzalez is eager to hear more ideas for supporting other community projects in Questa, and she’d love to connect with you. If you’d like to get in touch, she can be reached at email@example.com or (575) 665-2001.