About the SuperRico Project
What does a Puerto Rican tree frog Superhero have to do with the
World Trade Center tragedy? Ms. Nina Anastacia, a teacher at the
Adolescent Day Treatment program, PS 721M, created this project
for the 19 sixth and seventh-graders in her class as a way to work
out the lingering fears and anxieties they experienced after September
11th, while also learning more about writing and working together.
Children are referred to PS 721M because they have behavior problems:
they may be easily frustrated in their attempts at learning and
have trouble working cooperatively. Through the collaboration between
the New York City Board of Education and the Puerto Rican Family
Institute, a family oriented health and human services agency, the
mostly Latino students receive diagnoses and theraputic treatments
in addition to standards-based curriculum.
The SuperRico project allowed them to build on their fascination
with superheros while providing a safe place to talk about difficult
things. They transformed something from their own culture
the loud tree frog native to Puerto Rico into a way to explore
different strengths and challenges. "Like all good superheroes,
Super Rico can fly, or jump, into any situation to save the day.
He will knowingly put himself in danger to help somebody else, just
like the firefighters of Sept. 11 who entered the twin towers,"
explained Mellissa Figueroa, 13." (Jennifer Medina, New York
Times, 6/12/08, B-8) Writing and illustrating this story also
allowed the children to write their own ending, gaining a measure
of control over their own difficulties and the conflicts which remain
in the world.