Students at one local elementary school will use murals created by fellow students as part of their lesson plan.

For students, these murals are more than what meets the eye. Behind each individual piece are images that represent personal experiences, struggles within the community and history lessons on issues like slavery and immigration.

The mural is located in the International District and La Mesa Elementary is a multilingual school.

Teachers say because of the many languages being spoken, there can be a language barrier. That’s why art projects like this are helping students better understand what they’re learning in class.

“It helps students deal and cope with things happening nowadays that affects their families sometimes negatively. It gives them an understanding that the events that happened back then are still happening in some way. They’re very similar to what is happening nowadays as well,” said Ana Escobar, fifth grade bilingual teacher.

Last year hundreds of students contributed to making these murals. However, this is the first year teachers at La Mesa will be able to incorporate these images into their lesson plans.

Escobar says she’ll use these murals as her kids read “Henry’s Freedom Box,” a story about slavery and freedom.

She says it allows her students to look at how others interpreted the story based off of the murals. She also says it will help spark conversation while teaching her students to read and reflect on the issue at hand. 

Elementary students benefiting are not the only ones benefiting from murals. Future educators are also getting a lesson.

The University of New Mexico’s College of Education partnered with the school to bring student teachers into the classrooms at La Mesa Elementary.

Student teachers will continue to work with the teachers and students at La Mesa Elementary this year as well.