Great news! We had such a productive meeting today at UT involving leaders from the Austin Independent School District (AISD), Austin Community College (ACC), and our own College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin (UT).
We took the first step in exploring possibilities in forming a partnership to Grow our Own (GYO) educators in order to address teacher shortage areas in our district and in so doing, to help forge a national model that could get replicated elsewhere. Among other things, we are envisioning pathways for bilingual/dual language teachers from both high schools and paraprofessional ranks to ACC and UT.
|Photo Credit: Claire Bush|
Pictured here from left to right in the front is Dr. Nora Comstock, ACC Trustee; Dr. Lorna Hermosura, who recently earned her doctorate from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP); yours truly, Angela Valenzuela; Delina Zapata, second-year doctoral student in ELP; Norma A. Castillo, Director of Talent Acquisition in AISD; Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm, Executive Vice President of Campus Operations and Public Affairs at ACC; and ACC Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Charles M. Cook. Standing in the back are UT College of Education Dean Charles Martinez and ACC President Richard Rhodes.
A very special shout out to all the folks in NLERAP (pronounced "nel-rap"), namely, the National Latino Education Research and Policy Project where I serve as director of a consortium that involves universities and GYO efforts throughout the country. Dr. Barbara Flores, Cal State San Bernardino, and Dr. Margarita Machado-Casas, at San Diego State University, serve as chair and vice-chair of our NLERAP non-profit. It makes a difference to have GYO as our singular initiative and to lead nationally in this regard.
NLERAP's vision for growing our own equity-based, critically conscious educators is what has motivated so much of our work at Academia Cuauhtli (Nahuatl for "Eagle Academy"), our Saturday school, in Austin, Texas. Our school is located at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) and is itself a formal-legal partnership, involving AISD, the City of Austin's ESB-MACC, and Nuestro Grupo, our community-based organization that operates it.
Unless we hear otherwise, Academia Cuauhtli is the only Mexican American Studies program at the elementary school level in the state of Texas, with mostly UT graduate students from the College of Education donating their time and efforts to it—primarily on a volunteer basis. Thanks to AISD's Dr. David Kauffman, Executive Director of Multilingual Education, and Superintendent Paul Cruz for their many years of support of this initiative.
Special thanks to Nora Comstock, Dean Charles Martinez, and Dr. Victor Saenz for their unflagging support and shared vision. Thanks, as well, to AISD's Norma Castillo for her excellent grasp of what we can do locally that is promising of great success. Our colleagues at ACC were equally welcoming and excited about working as partners to create educator pathways for high school students and paraprofessionals.
Delina Zapata also merits recognition for her hard work in pulling materials together in preparation for this meeting. Finally, none of this would have gotten done without Claire Bush, Dean Martinez’ Senior Administrative Associate, who pulled off this mid-Summer convening of very busy people together while making it all seem so effortless.
This long-awaited meeting was nothing short of historic in what already has the earmarks of a veritable dream team. Now the real work begins! I’ll keep everybody posted as things progress.