MM Students Learn About the Maya Tree of Life

Impossible Possibilities (IP) co-founder Joshua Hernandez presented to students on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, as part of the organization’s Maven’s Milestones Program (MM) about his summer travels to the Maya heartland of Belize and Guatemala.

MM Students Learn About the Maya Tree of Life

MM is an incentive-based reading achievement program with more than 1,700 students participating at five Fort Worth ISD elementary schools. The program rewards students for reaching each of “Maven the Raven’s Milestones:” Ascent, Afterburner, Approach and Call Sign Maven. Each milestone represents a specific number of points that the students earn by reading books and passing online quizzes.

Hernandez met with fourth and fifth graders at Cesar Chavez, I.M. Terrell, Washington Heights, Woodway and Van-Zandt Guinn elementary schools. He told them about his journey in search of the Maya Tree of Life known as the ceiba tree, an emergent tree of the tropical rainforest that can grow up to 250 feet in height.

Hernandez explained that the Maya believed that a ceiba tree stood at the center of the universe, and he also discussed the medicinal applications of its leaves, bark and roots that can help with a host of illnesses ranging from pink eye to asthma. He also talked about the important role of plants in modern-day medicines and gave examples of the healing properties of a few species of plants that the students could relate to, including marshmallow plant, licorice root and peppermint oil.

Hernandez took the 26-day trip to complete his first fiction novel, titled, Maven the Raven: Tree of Life, which features the main character for which the reading program was named. His field research included a visit to Tikal National Park in Guatemala, the ancient capital of the Maya civilization.