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September 15—October 15

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Scholastic
Click here for more Hispanic Heritage Month information.
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the cultures and traditions of people from Spanish-speaking nations throughout the world. Latinos in the U.S. can trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson first proclaimed a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, the week was changed to an entire month. The month-long celebration officially starts September 15 and ends October 15. September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence in September.

To highlight the achievements of the fastest growing minority in the U.S., several Scholastic Kid Reporters interviewed Latino leaders in their communities.
Visit Scholastic's Online Activity on Hispanic Heritage Month for a look at more Hispanic leaders, a historic time line, and activities.

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Bishop Garcia of Sacramento, California, talks to Scholastic Kid Reporter Gabriella Castaneda.
Bishop Garcia of Sacramento, California, talks to Scholastic Kid Reporter Gabriella Castaneda.
(Photo: Gabriella Castaneda)
Sacramento Bishop Inspires
Scholastic Kid Reporter discovers a great community leader in her local Bishop.
By Gabriella Castaneda

Every community has its leaders. I wanted to know, what makes a good leader? I decided to talk to a leader in my community to find out.

I discovered that a good leader has a commitment to others and an important role in the community. They also have a strong sense of commitment to their heritage and background.

In my city of Sacramento, California, we have a Hispanic leader who meets and exceeds the qualities of a great leader. That leader is Bishop Richard J. Garcia.

Bishop Garcia is a very important person, not only in my community but also among Catholic organizations around the nation. He gave the first bilingual key note address at a major conference in Denver, Colorado. He is quoted often in regional newspapers about important issues.

He was the Bishop who performed my first communion and confirmation when I was in second grade. He does hundreds of first communions, baptisms, and confirmation every year.

Bishop Garcia is very proud of his culture. He was born in San Francisco on April 24, 1947 to Anita Marie Adame Garcia and John Manuel Garcia.

His parents were both born in Mexico. His grandparents have lived with him since he was little. He says they taught him how to pray.

"I get most of my culture and background from my grandparents," he told me.

Bishop Garcia encourages young people to be involved in helping others, especially now that we have an opportunity to help the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Kids of all backgrounds should learn about their culture, Bishop Garcia says. "Listen to the stories of your grandparents and parents or any one who is around to keep the stories going," he said.

Pope Paul II made Bishop Garcia an Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento in 1997. He has been a big influence in my life as well as others, both young and old.

The people who work in his office really look up to him.

"He is always praying for others; he always keeps his promises; he is a joy to work for," said Kim from the Bishop's office.

Those qualities and many more make Bishop Garcia a great leader of our community. As Mohandas Ghandi, modern India's greatest spiritual and political leader, said, "A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people."

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Scholastic Kid Reporter Valirie Morgan interviews Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent of Schools for the Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas.
Scholastic Kid Reporter Valirie Morgan interviews Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent of Schools for the Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas.
(Photo: Courtesy Valirie Morgan)
Educator Honors His Hispanic Heritage
Scholastic Kid Reporter talks to Dallas School Superintendent Michael Hinojosa
By Valirie Morgan, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Recently, I was granted an interview with Dallas Independent School District (DISD) Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. Dallas ISD is the third largest school district in the nation. Hinojosa was previously the superintendent of Spring ISD, a much smaller district near Houston, Texas. His student body went from 28,000 to about 158,000 when he switched districts.

Hinojosa was born in Mexico. He came to the U.S. as a child. He talked to me about leadership, his cultural background, and the challenges of his new job.


Hinojosa says a good leader is someone who can guide and manage people.

"You have to know how people work and think," he said. "It's so important to understand people, from adults and children to all ages."

He says leadership is all about working with people, and that's what he does.

Kids who want to become more involved in their communities should "hurry up and start!" he said. "This generation is more community-service-oriented than the last generation."

He believes in establishing a balance between working hard in school and for your community. There are so many little things you can do, he says.

Hispanic Heritage

When asked about his Hispanic background, Hinojosa had a lot to say. He legally moved to the U.S. when he was a child. His parents made the move so their children could get a better education. His parents both left their families to come to the U.S., so Hinojosa never got to know his extended family. Hinojosa spoke of the importance of family in Hispanic culture. He said he knew it was a big sacrifice for his parents to leave their families behind.

Kids who want to learn more about their cultural backgrounds should "study, read, talk, and ask questions," Hinojosa said. But that's not all.

"There are many different areas of culture and reading and studying isn't enough," he said. He suggests that kids talk to their parents, grandparents, and other relatives. "Culture isn't all about race. It's also about what you were taught and your family values," he said.

An Educator

Hinojosa was hired to lead the Dallas school district as superintendent in March 2005. Although he grew up in Dallas and later taught there, his career has taken him to many different Texas communities. He has worked in Grand Prairie, Austin, and Houston.

In an interview, district spokesman Sandra Guerrero praised the board's choice in superintendents. "I think it has been a good thing that the District and Board of Trustees hired Hinojosa because he knows the District from a teaching perspective and the background of a student's perspective," she said. "I believe he can make DISD better; he can improve it."

How did Hinojosa chose education as his career? He says he didn't decide, it just sort of happened. In high school one day, a teacher told him that he would make a great teacher. Based on that remark, he applied for a scholarship from the Future Teachers of America. It was a small scholarship, only about $500, which he could use to pay for books. He says it "bought me a dream." After that, he never even thought about doing anything else.

Hinojosa loves his job because even though it is hard, he believes he can make a positive difference in people's lives. He believes improving students' academic performance is a very important part of his job.

"Every job I've had is the best job I've ever had," he said.

It is that positive outlook that has brought him success. Hinojosa is a strong example of how education, cultural perspective, and hard work are all important to a person's growth and achievement.

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Scholastic Student Reporter Juliette Kesler interviews U.S. Treasurer Anna Cabral.
Scholastic Student Reporter Juliette Kesler interviews U.S. Treasurer Anna Cabral.
(Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Embrace Your Culture, Reach Your Potential
U.S. Treasurer Anna Cabral talks to Scholastic Kid Reporters about the importance of her Hispanic heritage.

Scholastic Kids Press Corps members Julliette Kessler and Jamie Sanders spoke to U.S. Treasurer Anna Cabral on September 28 on Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Cabral was part of a team of officials who unveiled the new $10 bill at a press conference. She took time between TV interviews to answer questions about her cultural background for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Q: You have held many jobs in the past that involved increasing Latino representation in museum exhibits, government programs, businesses, and education. You have dedicated much of your life to helping your culture and standing up for your culture. Why is culture so important to you?
Well that's an interesting question. When you think about culture, culture is really a reflection of what we learn from our family and our parents and our grandparents, and so all of us have a unique culture that we have available to share with other people.

There are, I think, unique circumstances that certain communities find themselves in. The Hispanic community has a lot of challenges. They have a high [high school] drop-out rate, they have a lower college-attendance rate. They're very hard working, but I don't think that their talents are being utilized to the best of their abilities. It's important in America that everybody be able to reach his or her potential. So you work hard to find ways in which you can empower communities—like Hispanic Americans, Afro Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, poor people, people with different kinds of challenges, disabled people—to live up to their potential by identifying what are the things that are in their way and then get rid of those barriers or help them get rid of those barrier. So that's what I try and do every single day.

Q: Why is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month important?
One of the things about heritage month-celebrations is that they give us a chance to share the very best of what each of our cultures—our backgrounds—bring to this great country of ours. And it's really about finding a way to make sure that we look at the contributions of those cultures. More important, it's about taking the very best part of those cultures and making them part of the fabric that every single day we're living in this country and this planet together.

It's about being open to new ideas, bringing those ideas in, sharing your ideas with others, just really making sure that in everything we do, we allow for this diverse perspective. I know, for example, businesses, Fortune 500 companies, make sure that they have lots of viewpoints at the table because they need to make good decisions. If you don't have the perspective of a lot of different communities, you might miss something.

Q: What advice would you give to kids who want to be leaders and achieve what you've achieved in your job?
I think people can be leaders at all ages, so you don't need to wait until you grow up to be a leader, that's the most important thing I can tell children. Some of the things that I'm most proud of are the things that I did when I was very young.

If you have a great idea, you share it with people and you try to make it happen. But I think the most important advice I can give young people who want to make sure that as they're growing up they are giving back to this country is to stay in school and work really hard at it: To go to college, to go to graduate school, to get the educational tools they need and really make a difference. Do your homework at the end of the day, get it all done, and make sure that you turn it in on time. Keep on enjoying learning and find out what you enjoy most and put a lot of energy behind it.

Q: When you were my age, did you know that you wanted to be the treasurer?
No, I never imagined it. And where I grew up very few people went to college, they didn't graduate high school, so it never entered my mind as a possibility. But it's been a wonderful place to be. I was very excited when the President called and asked, "Would you be willing to be the Treasurer of the United States?" It's a really tremendous honor. But I'm still pretty young, so I don't know what comes next.

Q: What did you want to be?
Well like most young people, I had a few different ideas. I wanted to do something in international relations. I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a good mother, and I wanted to be a really good citizen. I think I'm working on all of those things.

Q: What's the difference between the Secretary of the Treasury and the Treasurer?
The treasurer's office is actually the third-oldest office in the federal government. It actually was created before the Department of the Treasury, and so it's a very old and noble office. As the Treasurer, I work directly with the Secretary on issues of coin and currency specifically. I also work on financial literacy. I help the Secretary with the President's economic agenda. But the Secretary, like all other Secretaries, really runs the department and is dedicated to working with the President to enforce his economic agenda.

Q: Do you believe in what Cesar Chavez stands for and do you think he was a good leader?
He was actually a phenomenal leader. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with him a number of times. When we grew up, my great-grandparents and parents worked in the fields of California. And Cesar Chavez was an amazing individual who saw a much-needed community and a need to really bring attention to the plight of that community. He did a wonderful job. He did it very peacefully and very thoughtfully. He was a man of extraordinary talent and capability. and unfortunately, I don't think enough people know about him.

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