South LA tribute to Gabriel García Márquez

El coronel necesitó setenta y cinco años — los setenta y cinco años de su vida, minuto a minuto –para llegar a ese instante. Se sintió puro, explicito, invencible, en el momento de responder.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez at | Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara

Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 2009 | Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara

I laughed out loud to myself as I finished reading “El coronel no tiene quien le escriba.”


This is the answer that took the colonel seventy-five years of his life to provide in response to his wife as she pestered him about what they were going to eat.

“No One Writes to the Colonel” is the second novel I read by Gabriel García Márquez. It is one of my favorite books written by him, with one of the best endings that I have ever read. It is sad that Latin America has lost one of its most prized writers. But to me, he lives on in his stories and in the love of people who want change.

I discovered Márquez — also called El Gabo, a diminutive of affection among his friends and fans — in my first English class in community college two years ago when I read the “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World.” In this short story Márquez transforms the life of an isolated village when its residents become enamored of a dead man who washes up on their shore. Gabo gives life to a drowned man with his magical realism in stunning, straightforward prose. Instantly, I added him to my list of must-read authors, venturing to learn still more about El Gabo and his art. [Read more…]

South LA teacher learns Spanish to help students

By Jennifer Quinonez

image“This is how you wrap the baby, so she stays warm,” said Preschool Teacher Reshon Moutra recently, as she gently held a doll while giving an impromptu life experience lesson to three preschoolers.

“She needs milk too,” said excited four-year-old student, Emmy, as she pitched in during free playtime at Moffett State Preschool in Lennox.

Teaching children self-help skills and more comes naturally to Moutra, who is in her second year as the preschool lead teacher. Yet, surprisingly, teaching wasn’t her first choice.

“I used to dream of being an obstetrician/gynecologist and delivering babies,“ Moutra said. “I was pre-med at Fresno State, but after my first semester, I found out that medicine was not my thing, and I didn’t know what to do.”

Fortunately for Moutra, crossing paths with a group of children on her college campus forever changed her life. Feeling frustrated after a particularly challenging class, she saw preschoolers taking a nature walk.

image“They all began to wave and speak to me and instantly, and I felt my mood change from sad to happy,” said Moutra. “It was as if a light bulb illuminated. I called my mom right away and told her, ‘Mama, I know what I want to be! I want to be a preschool teacher,’ and I never looked back.”

Moutra, who was born in Compton and later raised in Carson, says she is thrilled to work in Lennox, near her old hometown and in a career that helps children at the beginning of their educational path.

She says she has faced many personal and professional challenges in her position as a teacher, but tackles them with the same inspiration and passion that she felt back in college.

“Over the last few years, my biggest challenge was finishing my Master’s degree with a newborn baby, and juggling a new job in a community that is predominantly Spanish speaking,“ continued Moutra. “Most of the children and parents I serve are only Spanish speaking, but I am determined to become fluent.”

Nellie Para-Rios, director of Lennox State Preschool, says she can’t say enough about Moutra’s dedication.

image“We’re so impressed that Reshon is working on her Spanish skills,” she said. “As she grapples with a second language, she can better empathize and support her students,” said Para-Rios. “Her expertise is in knowing that expressive language has a timeline, so she relies on the five senses, routines, visuals and gestures to promote communication. When children see her attempt, then they are more apt to do so as well while they learn English.”

For Moutra, being part of the whole early care and educational experience has been worthwhile, because as she states, her work is making a difference in the lives of the four-year-olds now in her care, and for the community at large.

“Having these kids come to school every day, I see first-hand how fast they pick up everything from new English language skills, to literacy, math, creativity and more,” said Moutra. “I know that by being here, they are becoming better prepared for their future and I am honored to have a big part in that path.”

Please visit or 866-675-5400 for more information about enrolling your child in a high-quality preschool program in Los Angeles County.

Life in a different language

Irving Velasquez, Crenshaw High School

When I came to the United States in 2004, I started school in the 7th grade. My first day at school was the worse day of my life. I did not speak a word of English and most of my teachers did not speak Spanish, my native language.

I was in my first period. The class had barely started, and I wanted the class to be over already. When the period ended, I felt like crying, but I knew I had to be strong. I knew that what was happening was not going to be forever. I knew that I would learn the language and would succeed in life.

In order to succeed in life I knew I had to get some kind of help. One person that helped me a lot those days was Ms. Sanchez. I am very thankful to her, because she helped me when I needed it the most. She was my math teacher, but she turned into an English teacher in order to help me. She would help me with everything I needed. In nutrition and lunch I would go over to her class so that I could practice my English. That helped me a lot. Now I’m in high school, about to graduate, and it’s all because of my courage and her help. If one day I had the chance to help someone that needs it like I needed back then, I would do it with my best intentions, because I want to give back what I once received.

Some people don’t know how much teachers can help. I know, because I once needed that help and, lucky for me, I found it. Not everyone looks for help in their teacher, because they think that nothing will change the situation. Well things are not like that. Teachers will help if you let them.