Every year I am blown over by the insightful essays produced by my Mother Tongue Project students at Capital High School. This small group of committed teen mothers choose individual topics of interest, engage in research, dig deep for their own stories, and write draft after draft after draft. They work hard, and it isn't easy. They want to quit, but they prevail, finishing personal research papers that address important issues from their unique perspectives.

In so doing, they reach people they know and don't know and teach them to see the world from different angles. For me as a teacher, mother, community member and American, this is some of the most critical work of our day.

As director of Mother Tongue Project (MTP), sharing these viewpoints is my work and motivation. Young people underrepresented in the dominant discourse need more chances to hear their own and each other's ideas. Those of us used to being heard need more chances to listen to their voices.

To this end, MTP creates relevant, relationship-based, academic literacy programming for young parents. Our combination of academic study, independent reading and mentorship builds these students' skills and confidence at a critical point.

This year's writers chose topics prominent in state and national dialogues: immigration, equitable divisions of labor, outdoor education, financial stress, reflective parenting and multigenerational awareness.

Come Out and Play
By Angelikue Bolaños Garcia

Unequal Parenting
By Melanie Jaime Cervantes

The Stressors Of Cohabiting
By Andrea Valencia