Sunday, September 15, 2019

Academia Cuauhtli [Eagle Academy], Austin, Texas, Recruitment Video 2019

Credit: Maria Unda, Academia Cuauhtli volunteer and NLERAP Fellow


I am happy to share our 2019 recruitment video for Academia Cuauhtli in Austin, Texas. Academia Cuauhtli is a Saturday School physically located at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Culture Center (ESB-MACC) in Austin, Texas. “Cuauhtli” means “eagle” in Nahuatl [a Uto-Aztecan language] so our name means “Eagle Academy.” Founded during the 2013-14 school year, we are now entering our sixth year of operation. We are not a charter school; we are a formal-legal partnership, involving the Austin Independent School District (AISD), the City of Austin's ESB-MACC, and our community-based organization (CBO) named Nuestro Grupo. We serve fourth-grade children from five East Austin schools, namely, Sanchez, Metz, Zavala, Houston, and Perez Elementary.*

Additional core partners are the Austin Area Association for Bilingual Education and the Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos, Texas.

Nuestro Grupo was formed after a September 20, 2013 meeting at the ESB-MACC to discuss literacy in East Austin. The ESB-MACC is located near our participating East Austin schools, and their eagerness to support us emanates from their desire to serve this same community. Nuestro Grupo is comprised of student volunteers, faculty from UT-Austin and Texas State University, community elders, parents, and AISD bilingual education teachers.

An amazing detail is that this work has resulted in pathways for undergraduates to graduate school, and from masters students to the doctoral program Since we began our work in the community—where we hold weekly meetings at the ESB-MACC—we have created pathways for at least 13 students into the masters and doctoral programs at UT in Educational Leadership and Policy, as well as into the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Hence, in addition to providing an enrichment opportunity for children, we are growing our own critically conscious, community-based, social justice-oriented, masters and doctoral students.
To the best of our knowledge, we are the only Ethnic Studies program at the elementary grade level in the state of Texas and one of only a few nationwide. The number gets smaller when taking into account that we also offer a curriculum in Spanish. We see ourselves as a culture and language revitalization project where we nurture a Spanish-speaking, Indigenous identity, and civil rights consciousness. Our curriculum is further place-based, social justice oriented, community-centered, and parent-engaged.

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-Angela Valenzuela, Co-Founder and Convener
Academia Cuauhtli

*Parts of this piece draw from a Tuesday, September 17, 2019 interview with me conducted by Kevin Welner and Holly Yettick of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) in a piece titled, "The Saturday School Where Mexican American Children Learn About their Heritage: A Q & A with NEPC Fellow Angela Valenzuela." also posted to this blog.


  1. Teresa Razo4:06 PM

    I'm so happy to say that my Sanchez ES 4th grade students Cohort 1 (2013-2014) were the first into the program to be served. Then, Cohort 2 (2014-2015) was so eager to attend. Getting buy in from the parents was easy because they were the ones bringing their son/daughter to the program. Yes, so happy to hear the program continues...~TR.

  2. Gracias, Teresa. As you know, we're a whole ecology with many individuals, organizations, community-based institutions, and Texas state policies and politics in perpetual orbit.

    Te queremos mucho! We miss you! Te extrañamos!