Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Hispanic enrichment program to teach students about their roots

Check out this fantastic story on us in the Austin American Statesman by Anjanette Gautier titled, "Program will teach Hispanic Students about their Roots"  Here are all the pertinent links:
Facebook page:

Map to AISD Performing Arts Center:

AISD Website:

Many thanks to our inauguration sponsors:
• Center for Mexican American Studies, University of Texas at Austin

• Austin Area Association for Bilingual Education

• Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, University of Texas at Austin

• Tejano History Curriculum Project

• Texas Center for Education Policy

• National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project

                                                  PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT*

We are happy to announce the inauguration of Academia Cuauhtli / Cuauhtli Academy—a language and culture revitalization project—at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESBMACC).  Students from three nearby east Austin elementary schools—Metz, Sanchez, and Zavala—get taught in Spanish a Mexican American and Tejano history curriculum on Saturdays throughout the Spring, 2015 semester.  We are very grateful to our partipcating principals, Ms. Azucena Garcia (Sanchez Elementary School), Ms. Martha Castillo (Metz Elementary), and Mr. Sean Fox (Zavala Elementary) and their parent liaisons and support specialists for agreeing to do this.

This effort is born out of a partnership involving Nuestro Grupo (our community based organization organized by the Texas Center for Education Policy and the Tejano History Curriculum Initiative [that grew out of the Tejano Monument inititive], both at the University of Texas at Austin and NLERAP, our fiscal agent), the Austin Independent School District (AISD), and the City of Austin Parks and Recreation ESBMACC.  (Note: We are not a charter school.)

University faculty have been invested in this effort for some time now, including Dr. Cinthia Salinas and former UT Professor and current University of Utah College of Education Dean Dr. María Franquiz when they—together with UT History Department Dr. Emilio Zamora—focused on curriculum development with a grant that Dr. Zamora secured from WalMart that was in turn related to the development of curriculum as part of the unveiling of the Tejano Monument itself on Texas State Capitol grounds.  Thanks to the efforts of this collective effort, called the "Tejano History Curriculum Project," curricula are already accessible at this website: 

With a new grant from Humanities Texas, the curriculum will expand from it current focus on civil rights, migration and local history to indigenous heritage, women, and the cultural arts.  Even if so many of us individually—or as small families or collectivities—similarly held just such a dream, the expressed dream for a Saturday academy in the Austin community—according to its originating documents—goes back to the years leading up to the founding of the ESBMACC (see

Thanks, as well, to the fantastic AISD team of curriculum writers as part of the Curriculum Writers Cadre, and most especially to our committed AISD dual language teachers who because of their efforts, the curriculum is TEKS-aligned (i.e., adapted to state standards) and is currently available in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 11 district wide.  Also worthy of mention is that this has involved the participation of faculty from the following five universities: The University of Texas at Austin, Huston Tillotson University, St. Edwards University, South University, and Texas State University.

AISD's Chief Academic Officer Dr. Pauline Dow and ESB-MACC staff, especially Tiffany Moreno, and Laura Esparza from the Parks and Recreation Department have been awesome partners, as well.

This has been a labor of love. Our team is so talented and passionate about the whole initiative. It is quite a beautiful thing.  Here is who we are:  Dr. Angela Valenzuela, Dr. Pauline Dow, Martha Cotera, Oralia Garza de Cortes, Dr. Emilio Zamora, Brenda Rubio, Laura Esparza, Tiffany Moreno, Brenda Ayala, Noreen Rodriguez, Martha Sanchez, Olivia C. Hernandez, Dr. Isabel A. Millán, Larissa Davila, Alonzo René Mendoza, Anthony Martinez, Modesta Trevino, Dr. Christopher Milk, Gina Tillis, Patricia Núñez, Dr. Manuel Xavier Zamarripa, Jessica Ochoa Zamarripa, Julia Hernandez, Kristina Gutierrez, Jesse Gainer, Nancy Valdez-Gainer, Randy Bell, Juan Ramirez, Dr. Ramon Martinez, Dr. Luis Urrieta, Dr. Arcelia Hernandez, Belinda Jiménez, Manuel Martinez, Luis Ramirez, Julia Hernandez, Yvette Cardenas, Fernando Rios, Joanna Sanchez, Juan Oyervides, Kathy Mariscal, Maria Vaso, Dr. Beatriz Gutierrez, Dr. Deb Palmer, Dr. Delia Montecinos, Paola Ferate, Dr. Haydee Rodriguez, A.J. Hope, Jennifer Ross, Beatriz Hernandez, and Clarissa Riojas.

Our Academia Cuauhtli (Cuauhtli Academy) inauguration takes place at the new AISD Performing Arts Center located at 1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd., Austin, TX 78723 (see map here) on Saturday, January 17, 2015 from 11:00AM-3:15PM. Tamales and pan dulce will be served with performances by Tejano music master Joel Guzman, McCallum High School Ballet Folklórico, Crockett High School Mariachi, Martin Middle School Ballet Folklórico, Bedichek Middle School Mariachi, and El Grupo de Danza Mexica Xochipilli.

All are welcome to attend this joyful and historic celebration of a broad-based community effort that is also a dream come true here in Austin, Texas! 


Dr. Angela Valenzuela

*Do note that this event was originally scheduled for January 10th but was postponed until the 17th because of a bad weather forecast.

New Hispanic enrichment program to teach students about their roots

By Anjanette Gautier

¡Ahora Sí!

What started as a dream 40 years ago will finally become a reality: The Emma
S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on Saturday will launch
Cuauhtli Academy, weekly sessions on Mexican-American and Tejano history
for Austin elementary school students.

The program offers free language, cultural, history and art instruction to fourth-graders. It
was first proposed in 1974 as a way to celebrate and preserve local Hispanic culture and historical roots.

their roots and language,” said Martha Cotera, one of the organizers of
the academy.

Cuauhtli means eagle in Náhuatl, the language of
central Mexico’s indigenous Aztecs, and organizers say it reflects the
spirit and mission of the project. Nuestro Grupo, the primary organizer
of this effort, was started by members of the Texas Center for Education
Policy and the Tejano Monument Curriculum Initiative, both based at the
University of Texas.

Cuauhtli “connotes strength, grace and spirituality, as well as a mental and physical capacity,” said co-founder and UT professor Ángela Valenzuela. Cuauhtli seeks to “honor our community’s cultural heritage, foster a social justice consciousness and reclaim our collective identities in pursuit of educational freedom.”

UT professor Emilio Zamora, an organizer of the Tejano
History Curriculum Project and Valenzuela’s husband, devised the
program’s curriculum. With help from Austin school district
administrators and language teachers, Zamora aligned it with the Texas
curriculum standards, so it could be easily replicated by other groups
in other school districts, Cotera said.

“This has been a true community effort,” said Larissa Dávila, a volunteer who will be teaching parents in parallel courses.

“The Austin school district has even made buses available, so we can take
the children on field trips to learn about the history of their
ancestors in Texas,” Cotera said. The district also will provide
teachers and administrative assistance for the program.

The academy begins with 35 students nominated by dual language teachers from
Metz, Sanchez and Zavala elementary schools. They will participate for
three hours every Saturday until May. Classes will be in Spanish and
will include topics not often taught in depth at the elementary level,
such as the various indigenous groups of Texas, the role of Tejanos in
the Texas revolution, the Chicano art movement, and the traditions and
cultural heritage of their ancestors.

“We want them to understand their mestizaje,” said Cotera, referring to the process in which
indigenous and Western cultures and people mixed to produce what many
now refer to as Mexican-American, Chicano or Tejano culture.

The idea, organizers say, is for students to develop a strong vision of where they come from and where they are headed.

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