Census in schools: Meet Miami Teacher-Ambassador ‘Mr. M’


MIAMI — Why is the 2020 Census important to Globe-Miami schools?

Population results of the once-every-10-years nationwide census determine how much money communities receive for critical resources children and families will depend on over the next 10 years — basically, an entire childhood. Food assistance, HeadStart, child care, housing support, public schools, early intervention services for children with special needs, and children’s health insurance – these resources and more can be impacted by census data.

Knowing how many children live in Miami, how many in Globe, and communities throughout Gila County is essential to fair distribution of services and programs.

Surprisingly, kids under age five are often missed – for example, preschoolers who don’t live in the same home as both parents sometimes go uncounted. When newborn babies and young children aren’t counted in the census, support for programs such as health insurance, hospitals, child care, food assistance, schools, and early childhood development is impacted.

Numbers are important to Miami math teacher Sreevelmurugan Vamadevan, who moved from India to the United States in 2016 – helping alleviate our nationwide teacher shortage here. Despite a heavy course load, he volunteered this year to serve as a ‘Teacher Ambassador’ for the 2020 Census – helping raise awareness of the count, which begins next month when local residents can officially begin to log on to 2020census.gov and self-report; conveniently online for the first time in U.S. history. Watch your mailbox for a 2020 census postcard reminder with login instructions.

“Teaching is my passion, and here at Miami High school I am handling Pre-Algebra, Algebra, College Algebra, Robotics and Sliding Math – which is a credit recovery class designed by our dear Principal Mr. Lineberry. My grandfather was a renowned Sanskrit scholar and teacher; and I have followed his example as a teacher born, raised and educated in India. I am devoting my career and my life to education. My objective is to become an accomplished teacher, so that I can help construct the next generation in a fruitful way. During this past year I learned about the opportunity to volunteer as a Teacher Ambassador for the U.S. census; this is one way that I can be of service for this great nation -- and teaching about the census also offers a super tool for designing my lessons in mathematics, as well as lessons for other teachers who are collaborating with me -- and within our entire school.”

Any teacher (home schooling parents, too) can download curricular and lesson plan suggestions from the extensive website 2020census.gov; try a search using keywords “statistics in schools” and you find a range of activities designed for kids from pre-K all the way through soon-to-graduate seniors.

Creatively using numbers, words, song and animation - lessons help students understand the census and learn from it. Search online to find:

• take-home flyers for preschoolers to give to parents, explaining importance of the census

• sing along to the lyrics of ‘Everyone Counts!’ while the video plays online

• play games such as ‘I Count, You Count’ (find instructions online)

• Everyone Counts story and activity book

• preschool educator flyer

• Various animated videos explain why the census counts everyone in your home -- your neighborhood, and across the USA.

“I’m excited that ‘Mr. M’ has embraced ‘Statistics in Schools’ with such enthusiasm - SIS is one of the 2020 Census’s key programs,” said Havala Schumacher, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Partnership Specialist for Gila County.

“Teachers are often surprised to learn that these materials aren’t just for math teachers - they incorporate census data into additional subjects such as geography, history, sociology, and even language arts! We hope that teachers across the county explore these materials during ‘Statistics in Schools’ week March 2-6 - and throughout the school year.”

In Miami, math teacher Sreevelmurugan Vamadevan has already begun to engage his students.

“Before I introduced the concept of the census through different small activities, more than 95 percent of my students – almost all of them were completely unaware of it.

But once I explained the importance and the positive points of being counted, now these same kids are even speaking sometimes like a statistician -- I am impressed!”

“We studied data collection and analysis activities in class, and expanded to a more broad discussion within my classroom about the census and we have gradually spread the lessons and awareness by sharing information and handouts provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. I am also planning to conduct a ‘family night’ to build even more awareness about the Census 2020.”

Part of his job as an educator is to dispel myths about the census, and misinformation.

“Some people need to be reassured that this is a government policy, in fact the United States Constitution requires a new census every 10 year to keep track of America’s growing population: where there are more people, and what that means for future planning. With those who need to be convinced, I spend more time with them and make a teaching session with facts and figures likely to help their understanding of the census.”

Do you have a classroom or audience that would welcome a visit or talk by Gila County’s official Teacher Ambassador? Or questions about the 2020 Census?

Call Miami Unified School District 928-425-3271 (ask for “Mr. M”) or email [email protected]

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