Several professors at UTRGV have secured funding to take local history, including culture and traditions into local classrooms.
Dr. Joy Esquierdo and Dr. Stephanie Alvarez are both professors and directors for two important centers at UTRGV.
“Most educators are hesitant to use a word like Chicano for younger children,” said Esquierdo.
They are now committing to a project that will equip elementary school teachers with knowledge on implementing local history into classrooms.
“Sometimes there’s limited resources especially if you want to infuse Mexican-American Studies, some local history.” continued Esquierdo.
They’ve received a national grant of nearly $100,000 that will provide resources for teachers from kindergarten to fifth grade in PSJA ISD and Harlingen CISD.
“For approximately 30 teachers, for two years and so it’s going to be a four-day workshop one year and then another four-day workshop. What it will help us do is build up materials,” said Dr. Stephanie Alvarez.
Alvarez says that as a mother of three, she would personally like her children to grow with their language, culture, and identity affirmed.
“I went through all my schooling in elementary, high school, and even college never reading anything by a Latino author or a Mexican-American author and, you know, when you don’t see yourself represented in the curriculum it’s as though you don’t exist in the society.” said Alvarez.
Esquierdo tells us the long term goal for this project would be to have this curriculum available in both English and Spanish for all elementary school teachers of the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.
“And then begin to share that with students, so they don’t have to wait until they’re in high school or college. That they see it very relevant in kinder through fifth grade.”
The professors overseeing the project say the ultimate goal is to have a unique and culturally relevant spin on the social studies being taught in the elementary schools.