Saturday, December 11, 2010

400 Tamales, Public Education and the PTO

Community sings when people work together. Community thrives when women work side by side, communicate in two languages and race against the clock to make over 400 tamales before the clock strikes 7:00 a.m. Women rock. We do. 

The PTO.... remember them? They used to be called the PTA until they went "independent" and formed their own group. Our two conscious women  PTO - Co-presidents at our local elementary school, Glacier Edge, make their own way in the world. They raise funds and a lot of funds I might add, by thinking outside the box and inviting the whole community to participate in the process. Their strength? Women power. Use your strengths to reach deep into the community - ask for resources - create - and birth amazing and inspiring activities that are not just your typical bake sales. 

It's all part of the process...... Do you know that song by Morcheeba? We all are looking for success. Looking for a way to make it happen, what ever that may be. We look at what we have and want to give it back, throw it at our children, have them catch it and ride the kite of success, high into the sky.  No matter our culture or language,  we want to succeed and want our children to have all the opportunities this world has to offer.

In a time of immense budget cuts in our educational system, the only way to help our public schools and our kiddos is through family. If we love our kids, we need to share some of that love with the schools. Public schools often get a bad rap, but guess what? Public school teachers rock. They are some of the hardest working people I know. The teachers that are with our children are full of love, full of amazing ideas and care deeply about your kids. Public schools need us to be involved. Whether it raising funds, reading to kids in the classroom or volunteering in the lunchroom. Our help is needed and appreciated.

I used to be a private school devotee. I had blinders on. I taught in a private school and naively avoided public schools like the plague. Public education was the evil kingdom of poorly behaved children and bad lunches. Private school was where it was at in my mind. Both my kids started off in private education.  They had excellent experiences and loving teachers. However, I just kept questioning myself,  how could there be any stellar teachers in public education?  Seriously? Here I was, some left wing liberal sending my kids to private schools, while the real democratic process was happening within our public schools. I shunned public schools, I felt that they were ruining our children and failing them. I was wrong. Private education excluded many, public was all-inclusive. Private education was for those with privilege. Public provided for everyone. Thank goodness someone took my blinders off!

What a novel thought. Education for everyone. 

Blessed be the mothers and fathers of all of our kiddos and blessed be the grandmothers and grandfathers of public education. Thank you for fighting the good battle and continuing to fight for the good cause. Education is a right and how good it feels to work side by side parents in the community to make goodness happen! Support Public Education.

On a cold winter night, on the eve of the first snow, seven women gathered in a warm home to make tamales for the local elementary schools first ever - Pancake and Tamale Breakfast. Wow. When I stated earlier this year that I would be collecting recipes from the Latino community, I never envisioned myself being at an all night tamale-a-thon. I love this stuff. This is what life is made of, these earthy moments of friendships and crossing cultures.   There we were at eight o'clock in the evening using our hands to wrap hundreds of pork and chicken tamales. Up to our elbows, literally, in masa, carne, hojas and wine. Who could make so many tamales with out a bit of wine. Bless that fabulous beverage and blessings on the corn plant that brought us the masa and the leaves in which we wrapped the tamales.

Seven laughing, smiling women, chatting in Spanish, chatting in English. Back and forth,  here and there. Some interpreting for others, all working hard, learning the ins and outs of tamale wrapping. Pork tamales, chicken tamales, soaking corn husks, music, wine, laughter, jokes about men, mistakes, fixes, more laughing, snow, and most importantly love. That is how tamales are made for a school fundraiser.

Three women showed us their specialty, tamale making. Making 400 tamales seemed like a difficult feat for me, but not for Reyna, Baudelia and  Gregoria. These women have done this before. This is their fund-raiser. We make pancakes, they make tamales. Together, a community of seven women, all mothers, doing what we love to do... cook with love!

The Tamale Mamas

The occasional phone call......

Coloring the masa with the broth of the guajillo pork.

Stacking the tamales... getting ready for the steaming.

Carrying the first pot to the garage.....

Loading them on for a slow 3 hour cook....

Tamales awaiting stacking

Help shape your child's education. Become involved in the process. Support public education. Public Education is not perfect. It is a dance. It has it's ups and downs, mistakes and successes.  Our children learn to be part of it. It is a breathing community of people, learning about life and all that comes with it.
All relationships are difficult, sometimes the ones we actually have to work at are the most rewarding.
No blinders, just life.


  1. beautiful article, Megan!

  2. 400 delicious tamales. Heck yeah, women rock!

  3. One of my favorite blog posts yet! I read every word. I majored in education hoping to make a difference in childrens lives. I wanted to work in an inner city school with hopes of letting know that there are people out there who genuinely cared about them and their future. Right now I still want to do something involving food and children.

    Amazing what you guys did, The tamales looks so delicious. I can feel the love and the sense of community. This post rocks!

  4. 400 TAMALES!! wow...that's lots of work and fun!

  5. What a wonderful way to fundraise - great fun!

  6. Megan, you are a gem. I love how much of yourself you put in your posts. I love that this post has a mission...and what a mission it is! And I love tamales, so that helps too ;)
    Our education system is broken, no question, but it has to be fixed from the ground up, like you and your PTO are doing, as opposed to us all sending our kids to private school instead - and this comes from a girl who went to private school for 7 years!

  7. Megan,
    Not only do you have an amazing blog but your heart and passion is always felt. Thank you for sharing what you and the parents did. Your pictures are so beautiful. Our PTO rocks!

  8. Hi Miss Megan,
    Love your site! Winter is certainly a wonderous time of year. My favorite in fact--so exhilaratingly breathtaking. The colder,windier and snowier,the better!
    Great recipes,photos and genuine love...
    Perry (Mr.G.)

  9. Megan,
    I have been a teacher in a middle class school, and a teacher's aide in a very low income school.
    Parental involvement is key to the public schools ans education for their children. It takes a village to "educate" children, and teachers alone can not do it. Thank you. I'll get off my soap box now. Kudos to you Megan, and the Tamale Mamas!

  10. Megan! What an amazing article. Love the teamwork. Great job.

  11. Una entrada de lujo, me hubiera gustado estar allí.

  12. Megan, I am so amazed! You ladies are really rock! I believe there's so much fun & laughter along. Btw, you guys just leave the other end of the wrapper open. I saw mostly are well wrap with both ends closed! Oh wel, whateverso! They look delicious. Great job, everyone!


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