Sep 21, 2022
Our guests today are Geoffrey Land, a Social Studies teacher at Paso Robles High School who has just been named the SLO County Teacher of the Year, and two of his students, Israel Perez and Ana Lopez, both seniors at Paso High.
A teacher and his students? What could be more ordinary, right? Not so…what makes this podcast special is the fact that Geoffrey Land is no ordinary teacher, and Ana and Israel are no ordinary high school seniors. Mr. Land has been busy teaching justice-making and activism at Paso Robles High School, and Israel and Ana have both been applying his lessons to real life as they ready themselves for a world that needs much more justice and many more activists. Listen in as we find out how Geoff Land teaches students to stand up for justice, and how Ana and Israel have rallied for representation and inclusivity in an environment that has not always been supportive of these goals.
MORE ABOUT OUR GUESTS
Geoffrey Land has been teaching Social Studies at Paso Robles High School since 1998. He holds degrees from UC Santa Barbara (B.A.) and UC San Diego (Master’s in Pacific International Affairs). He has lived and studied in Spain and Costa Rica. Land served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Caribbean (Grenada, 1984-86) and with San Diego’s Office of Binational Affairs, which coordinated the city’s relations with Mexico. Before becoming a teacher, he worked with nonprofit groups—Border Ecology Project and the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO). While working at ECOSLO, Land spearheaded local efforts to protect the coast from offshore oil and gas development and the county’s north coast from the proposed Hearst hotel and golf development at San Simeon Point. He also oversaw an environmental health project to educate local farmworkers about environmental and health risks associated with pesticides.
At PRHS, Land has led hundreds of students on field studies and backpacking trips, helping establish the Field Studies Collaborative. In 2005 he created and still teaches one of California’s only Modern World History classes conducted entirely in Spanish for bilingual students. In 2010, he was part of an effort to defend the teaching of Kaffir Boy at SLO High School and penned a Tribune viewpoint on the subject (“Don’t censor Kaffir Boy because it discomforts some”). In 2017, Land worked with students who had organized a school walkout to honor immigrants, encouraging them to put their reasons for the protest into a Viewpoint for the local paper (“Paso High protest aimed to support immigrants”) In 2018, Land helped organize a community forum in which nine undocumented students at PRHS shared their stories; he encouraged them to write a Viewpoint for the Tribune explaining why they decided to speak out. (“These Paso seniors are bound for college, if they’re allowed to stay in the U.S.”) His Viewpoint on racial conflict and local news coverageappeared in the SLO Tribune in August, 2020. He developed and teaches the Honors Ethnic Studies course at Paso Robles High School. He was recently named 2022 Teacher of the Year for San Luis Obispo County.
Israel Pérez is a senior at Paso Robles High School. Last year, Israel spoke out publicly during the “Coming Out Against Hate” forum, held at Paso High, when students stood up courageously against homophobic hate. More than 300 people attended. Israel is a member of many campus clubs and an officer for three of them. He is Co-President of the Activists’ Coalition for Tomorrow Club (ACT); the Events Coordinator for M.E.Ch.A.; and the Social Media Coordinator for the Black Student Union. He is also a member of these clubs: Conservative Club, Red Cross Club, Life Savers Club, Friday Night Live, Wilderness Club, Beach Beautification Club, and Equity Club member. Currently, Israel is applying for placement on the Paso Robles Youth Committee which advises the City Council on youth affairs. In college, Israel plans to major in International Relations and Environmental Law and hopes to become a staff member of the United Nations.
Ana López Isidro was born in Santa Barbara, CA and raised in Paso Robles, CA. Ana is a proud daughter of immigrants whose parents come from San Juan Nuevo, Michoacán, México. She is currently a senior at Paso Robles High School and Co-President of M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan), a club that she’s participated in since her freshman year. Ana helped organize numerous cultural events last year, most notably the first ever Baile, a Spanish language dance on campus. As a junior, Ana was also a member of PRHS’ Ethnic Studies class. She is currently the Carmesi Editor of PRHS’ Crimson News Magazine and President of the high school’s AVID program. Since her junior year she has been a member of the Diversity & Policy Committee with three other students and Paso Robles Joint Unified School District staff. Ana identifies as a student, a community member, and an activist. Ana believes in the importance of striving for equity among everyone in our society, creating healing & safe environments, and working for inclusiveness and representation within our schools.
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The People of Faith for Justice Podcast is produced and edited by Jeff Manildi
Music for the People of Faith for Justice Podcast is provided by Andrew Gorman