LatinX Heritage Month
Northern Light School honors and celebrates the countless contributions, powerful influence, and critical impact the LatinX community has had on American history, culture, and achievements. We have put together an exciting month of LatinX presenters, vibrant performances, school art projects, classroom curriculum, and more! Check out our dynamic line up of LatinX speakers and presenters below!
Danny Sandoval was born in Oakland CA. His parents immigrated to this country in the 1960’s and worked hard to open a Mexican restaurant inside the historical Swan’s Market where Danny helped out and would spend his summer days. Danny’s love for music started ever since he was a little boy. Later as a teenager he discovered a place at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, CA where he explored his passion and dream of becoming a professional jazz saxophonist.
By the age of 16, Danny was playing up to 5 nights a week in San Francisco. At age 17, he played with Dizzy Gillespie, one of the Jazz musicians he has always admired. Danny continued playing music throughout the Bay Area in order to pay his way through college. Over the course of his training, Danny has had the honor of studying with Tony Archimedes, Frank Sumares, and Mel Martin. He started playing semi-professionally when he was sixteen, and continues to perform all over the nation and even abroad in places like France. He has shared the stage with well known artists such as Sista Monica, Pete Escovedo, Jerry Rivera , Arturo Sandocal and many more.
Danny is an example of how you can pursue your dreams without limiting your career or yourself. Aside from his success in music, Danny has navigated the political scene as well. He was the personal assistant to the treasurer of Chile, held positions in The Health Department at the State Capital and currently works as Program Associate and Office Manager at the California Health Care Foundation in Sacramento. He is also a volunteer chairperson at the Intergenerational Service commission of the West Sacramento Parks and Recreation.
The article on the Inside paper of the city of Sacramento featured a special day for Danny Sandoval where he was honored by a muralist who painted Danny’s image on a building in downtown Sacramento.
In addition to his many accomplishments, He is also a husband and the proud father of two teenagers. You may read more about Danny here:
Martha Ochoa was born in Mexico and raised in Oakland, CA after her family immigrated in the 1970s. While Martha’s parents worked long hours, she helped take care of her siblings by turning their living room into a classroom where she would play being the “teacher” at the young age of 8 years old. Martha loved school as a little girl and she eventually won many honors and awards. She was the first one to graduate from High School in her family and her dream was to go to college. Later she applied to colleges and was accepted to all her choice schools.Though she was accepted into UCLA and was given a full scholarship, she gave it up to stay home and help her family financially.
She may have given up the scholarship and attending UCLA, but she did not give up on her dream. She continued to work and go to school full time and eventually in 1991, she became the kindergarten teacher at Northern Light school and was there until 2007. She has been in education for 30 years. She completed three teaching credentials: her lower and upper elementary Montessori credentials, a California Public school credential, a masters in Montessori education.
After 26 years as a Montessori teacher, Martha embarked on a mission to mentor and support schools and teachers through her consulting services. She is the founder of AWE (Another Way to Educate), which is her personal education consultant project. The mission of AWE is to address inequity and social injustice in the curriculum through teacher mentorship, training and organizational guidance. She is involved in grassroots community efforts with organizations such as Homies Empowerment in Oakland, California and projects ranging from addressing the school-to prison pipeline, gender & race inequality, systemic racism and poverty.
This year at the age of 50, Martha was accepted into a Doctorate program. She is an example of how to never give up on your goals and dreams. She is also an advocate for children with food allergies and who have special needs and disabilities.
Aside from her academic accomplishments, she is the proud mother of two sons Anthony Perez (age 14) and Gabriel Perez (age 11).
Santa Teresa Ramirez
Santa Teresa is a strong, resilient and persevering Guatemalan woman born in a small town called Todos Santos. She is of Mayan descendant and is very much rooted in her Mayan culture. In the 1980s, the Guatemalan government threatened Mayan culture and conducted inhumane attacks against indigenous families. Rigoberta Menchu has written about the personal attacks on the Guatemalan Indigenous people and Santa Teresa’s family had to immigrate around that time to escape the attempts of Genocide and the poverty induced by the colonizing government during that time.
Once Santa Teresa arrived in the United States, she made her home in Oakland,California. Many more people from her town in Todos Santos also immigrated to this town. In time, Santa Teresa has helped with translations in her community as she speaks three languages: English, Spanish, and Mam. She is most proud of her work with an organization co-founded by Dr. Cesar Cruz called Homies Empowerment.
Santa Teresa arrived at the doors of Homies Empowerment after her home had caught on fire and she needed help with food. Eventually, Santa Teresa became an employee at Homies Empowerment, where she helps provide food for the community, keep the streets clean and prepares meals for the unhoused communities around deep East Oakland. Her passion is to serve the Oakland community with love and respect and to share the wisdom and beauty of her culture. She is an example of strength and perseverance, a proud wife, mother, and community supporter.
Marimba de Todos Santos:
Roberto Germinó, Santos Geronimo, and Jacobo Perez
Music runs through the veins of Roberto Geronimo whose father was a well known Marimba player in his Guatemalan town of Todos Santos. Like many Guatemalans in the 1980s, Roberto Geronimo, Santos Geronimo and Jacobo Perez immigrated to the United States in hope of a better life. The Marimba group came together after Roberto’s father passed away and Roberto decided that the art and cultural power of Marimba music must remain alive.. He built his own Marimba and started sharing his beautiful music with other people in Oakland who were there from his town in Todos Santos. Marimba music is deeply rooted in Maya culture and playing it today is an act of resistance to the colonization of Maya people and consequent governments that followed and for centuries prohibited the playing of Marimba or other Maya instruments.
Marimba music is an important part of Indigenous rituals and ceremonies, and while for many years the Indigenous Maya populations had to play it in secret or were shamed for expressing their culture publicly, today Geronimo, Santos and Jacobo carry the memory of those rituals and the pride of their culture through Marimba notes of resistance and resilience that fill up the spaces where they play their music with agency and pride.
Ruth Correa Hernandez
Ruth Correa was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. At the age of 3, her family moved to Guadalajara, Jalisco, where she started to dance ballet Folclorico at local festivals. At the age of 6, she began dancing with the Ballet Folclorico of the University of Guadalajara, in which she danced until the age of 19. While at BFUdG, she also danced with another group called, Ballet Huehuelcoyotl, in which she had the pleasure to dance in Colombia, in a carnival, in Mompox.
Ruth attended the University of the Atemajec Valley, where she joined their Ballet Folclorico, but as the amount of homework increased, she had to forgo BFUdG. Shortly after, Ruth migrated to Oakland CA and began dancing for many years with Ballet Costa De Oro.
Currently, Ruth is the Ballet Folclorico teacher in the Arts and Culture After-School Program at Melrose Leadership Academy (MLA), an Oakland TK-8th grade school. She has taught at MLA for 9 years, and during this time created a Ballet Folclorico group composed of teachers and adults, as well diverse mini-groups of children outside of school. When Ruth is not dancing, she enjoys spending time with her children, Jorge and Frida.
Ruth asistió a la Universidad del Valle de Atemajec, donde se unió a su Ballet Folclórico, pero a medida que aumentaba la cantidad de tareas, tuvo que renunciar a BFUdG. Poco después, Ruth emigró a Oakland CA y comenzó a bailar durante muchos años con Ballet Costa De Oro.
Calpulli Teokalli of Jefe/Chief
Alvaro Kepokamaztli Tellez and Jefa Irma Pineda of Teokalli traditional Aztec dance group from the Bay Area. Teokalli means 'House of Creation' in Nahuatl. Their purpose is to inform that indigenous people of the Anahuak are still here and share our cultural and traditions with all of our relatives from all four corners of Tonantzin Tlalli Coaltlicue, Mother Earth.