Cultural Diversity Institute: The Hispanic Learner
By Sydni Walker
COMMERCE, TX—The Texas A&M University-Commerce Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa has been awarded a project grant entitled Cultural Diversity Institute: The Hispanic Learner. The project will begin November 13 at 6 p.m. at the Texas A&M Mesquite Metroplex Center.
“School personnel will leave this Institute with a concrete idea of modifications needed to create a culturally responsive learning environment which reflects the Hispanic culture,” said Dr. Joyce Miller, secondary education program director at A&M-Commerce.
This project will determine who the Hispanic learner is, what factors need to be addressed for the Hispanic learner to succeed, what educators need to know about the learner’s family, home language and culture, and what educators need to know about the development and learning styles of the Hispanic learner. This Institute will help educators find out how a school can become culturally responsive to a Hispanic student, what schools have already been successful in embracing the Hispanic culture, and what strategies these schools have implemented that can be used by others.
“There is a need for on-going professional development opportunities to equip our teachers and prospective teachers in becoming culturally competent educators,” said Miller. “School districts in North Texas have traditionally had fewer Hispanic students than other parts of Texas. However, recently, the number and percentage of Hispanic students have grown significantly.”
The Institute will begin with a PDK meeting featuring Dr. Sheryl Santos-Hatchett, former A&M-Commerce elementary education faculty member who is now Dean of the Division of Education and Human Services at the University of North Texas at Dallas. Dr. Santos-Hatchett and a panel consisting of Zabdi Gonzalez, principal of Caldwell Elementary School, Garland ISD; Diana Hopes, Region X Consultant and Dr. Reyna Sotelo, principal of Botello Elementary School, Dallas ISD will answer questions about key issues related to the Hispanic learner.
“Teachers, administrators and staff members remain largely Anglo and know little of the language or culture of their students,” said Miller. “Many schools have recognized the need to make changes in school curriculum and instruction, professional development, and family/community involvement. However, many continue to only have time to address the day-to-day problems and issues of schooling.”
The second part of the grant involves Dr. Chis Green, assistant professor of bilingual education at A&M-Commerce. Green will train approximately 100 Ready, Set, Teach students to develop lesson plans that are appropriate for the Hispanic learner. The future teachers will teach a lesson to Hispanic elementary school students using selected books that will be purchased with the grant funds. At the end of the lessons, the books will be awarded to participating elementary schools. High school students who are enrolled in the Ready, Set, Teach program from Mesquite ISD have agreed to participate, and Dr. Linda Henrie, Mesquite ISD superintendent, has agreed to join Phi Delta Kappa as a co-sponser.
For more information regarding this program and how other future teachers may benefit from this program, contact Dr. Joyce Miller, project director and PDK vice president at Joyce.Miller@tamuc.edu, Dr. Wade Fish, PDK president at Wade.Fish@tamuc.edu or Susan Williams, membership chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the A&M-Commerce Phi Delta Kappa Chapter, go to http://tamuc.orgsync.com.