Good Night


In an age where everyone is looking for a quick fix, individuals forget that many times problems can be solved by focusing on simple solutions. I always compare education issues to my past experiences as a heavy equipment mechanic. For example, many times a 200 ton haul truck came to the shop with symptoms of low-power. Immediately shop supervision would change out a $100,000 engine and install the new engine only to find that the same problem existed.
I would then be sent to troubleshoot the problem only to find a broken electrical connection that was repaired using a two dollar and fifty cent connector. In education, I see the same scenario where students are struggling academically and engine swaps such as: changing curriculum, teacher instruction, RTI, AIMS, and Common Core are regular practice without first looking for a simple solution.

So, just as I would troubleshoot heavy equipment starting with the basic systems, I have started troubleshooting the performance of my students and I have discovered that many of my students are sleep deprived. They are sleep deprived due to the fact that both parents work out-of-town since the mine ceased production and parents must wake up at 4:30 A.M. to get ready for an hour to an hour and a half commute to their place of employment. As a result of the parents leaving home early in the morning, children are awakening before dawn and taken to grandma’s house to resume sleeping and to be cared for.

Po Bronson writes in his book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

“Around the world children get an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago. The cost: IQ points, emotional well-being, ADHD, and obesity.

One of the symptoms that I have observed in my sleep deprived students is the inability to retain information. Bronson states, “this is why I goods night sleep is so important for long-term learning of vocabulary words, timetables, historical dates and other factual minutiae.”
The research in Bronson’s book states that for every 15 minutes of extra sleep test scores increased by 10 points. However, parents and students must realize that adjusting to a different sleep pattern; an hour extra preferably, is not for one night only it should be maintained throughout the students’ school years.

What do you have to lose? Not sleep.


Manuel Chavez

Manuel Chavez

San Manuel, AZ

My name is Manuel Michael Chavez Jr. My greatest contribution to education is being able to relate my 20 years of work experience to my students, which I obtained while working for Magma/BHP Copper, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. My intentions had been to work for Magma Copper Company for the summer and return to school the following fall to pursue my dream of becoming an educator. Twenty years later, I was still employed with Magma Copper and had held various underground mining positions with the last position being a heavy equipment mechanic. In 1999, the mine announced complete closure and I had been forced and given a second opportunity to pursue my dream. What a bittersweet life-changing event in my life. I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from NAU and have been teaching for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District in Southwest Arizona for nine years and am pursuing National Board Certification. In 2009, I was selected as an Ambassador for Excellence for the Arizona Educational Foundation and currently sit on the Board of Directors for Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization. It is my belief that by intertwining my classroom lessons with my own life experiences and providing my students real world life scenarios, students become engaged in the lessons and develop a desire to learn.

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