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AFT-Maryland goes to Hamilton Elementary-Middle School to Open the World

Reading is a tool that opens every world. The state federation's deep integration into the community leads other organizations to partner with us when schools and community groups want to expand literacy among their students. AFT-Maryland has done this consistently over the past year with the Reading Opens the World events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (video) and Black History Month. During these events AFT-Maryland engages with students as well as faculty and staff as we distribute books for students to use to develop their home libraries. 

Things were no different at Hamilton Elementary-Middle School. Students received books focused on characters and stories celebrating Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage. The books are empowering for students of AAPI heritage but are equally educational for students of all backgrounds. The event was developed with the cooperation of Hamilton EMS teacher and Rogie Legaspi. Legaspi, who was featured by AFT at the onset of AAPI Heritage month, has been a leader in the field of diversity and inclusion for AAPI teachers and union members. He is a member of the AFT International Committee, who helped make this Reading Opens the World event possible. 

“The unwavering support of the union and state federation is truly a teacher’s greatest blessing. Throughout my years of active involvement with the union, I have witnessed firsthand the remarkable benefits that arise from advocacy and active participation, benefitting teachers across the board. Presently, I am privileged to utilIze my position to foster the growth of younger educators and amplify the recognition and representation of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders educators” said Legaspi, commenting on his experience with AFT, AFT-Maryland, and affiliated unions. Reflecting on the event at Hamilton EMS Legaspi exclaimed “this magnificent occasion not only allows our students to expand their personal libraries but also provides a gateway to explore the remarkable histories, vibrant cultures, and incredible diversity that defines Asian-Americans and those with Pacific Island heritage. It fills me with immense pride to be a part of a state federation that remains deeply committed to fostering inclusivity and celebrating our diverse tapestry of voices.”

AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell enjoys being in schools with members and students. She spoke with members discussing best practices in education. She reiterated past comments on the importance of the Reading Opens the World program, saying “I am filled with joy every time we enter a school and distribute books to students across the city. We are able to teach Baltimore city students about diverse cultures and we are able to build home libraries. Home libraries go far beyond the student who takes the book home. Parents, siblings, relatives, and other family and friends have access to the books we give to students. Books have a great multiplier effect.”

The state federation was well received by faculty and staff as well as students.  Administrators and educators at Hamilton EMS applauded the AFT-Maryland partnering with members to deliver texts to students. They were thankful of the support from the state federation and excited for young people to dive into their new books. 

Read more about the Reading Opens the World program at

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