A ‘Comunidad del Valle’ report by Damian Trujillo, producer, NBC TV 3, informed all about transformations being planned for the soon to be defunct Laureate International Universities program at National Hispanic University (NHU). This community needs to be very involved, informed, and supportive of the future programs at this facility, which are managed by the NHU Foundation, Inc. (nonprofit).
This is positive news since it builds on what exists in the East Side community, especially the future use of the Sobrato Building, funded years ago by the local Sobrato Family Foundation, Inc.
What was communicated by Santa Clara University’s Nicholas Ladany, Ph.D., Dean, School of Education and Counseling Psychology and Arcadio Morales, Director of External Relations, was that a satellite campus will be established and a teacher education program will be developed at the site.
Future programs include two charter schools (K-12) and a Latino/a education research institute. Dr. Ladany said, “We have a culturally sensitive mission. We honor bilingualism. It is a strength we want to embrace; we do not want to run from bilingualism.
DT: “We are back here talking about the former campus of NHU. Santa Clara University (SCU) is undertaking some wonderful programs there. Let’s talk about the two charter schools there….What’s happening? Who qualifies? What is the premise?
Dean Ladany, School of Education, SCU: “The Latino College Preparatory Academy and the [Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy] …will be there along with a SCU Teacher Training Program. The third program will be the Latino Education Research Institute, which will be looking into policy, practice and research. This is a very unique situation. Questions are ‘What are the best practices for teachers [of] Latino students from this community? What are the best methods to be used by teachers dealing with Latino students? This will be headed by Dr. David Lopez (former President, NHU), who really understands what the community is looking for in terms of education for their kids. He is able to make that link between K-12 education and higher education.”
DT: What impact will SCU be making in Silicon Valley by branching out like this? Arcadio Morales responded, “A significant one because of the two charter schools, a practical Teacher Training Program, and a Research Institute working together at one site. Future teachers will more than likely be trained at these charter schools. The effectiveness of the methodologies will be evaluated; improvements will be made; and a cadre of potential teachers will be trained who are knowledgeable in these latest improved methodologies. They will go back into the community to teach.”
DT: Then this is a great opportunity for SCU to get into that campus and that community.”
Dean Ladany: “Absolutely! This is a huge opportunity to show our commitment. We are not here to fail. Failure is not an option. We are going to continue to show our commitment to educate in that community. We are going to take culturally sensitive approaches, modify them until we get it right. This venture is like a ‘start-up company’.
DT: What do you see in your crystal ball 10 years from now?
Arcadio Morales: “Two basic things: An educated Latino community which will be a significant contributor to this Silicon Valley society and its economy. In this process the vicious cycle of poverty that exists in this community will be broken.”
DT: “That is the key component of your project’s social justice objective that is one of your program’s mission.”
Dean Ladany: “Correct. One of the challenging things is to understand what is happening in the community. We cannot come in and say ‘This is how you do it.’ One has to engage the community, especially family, who will tell us what are the best practices to educate their children. How can we best educate them to get them to college? Then to graduate schools (followed by service in this community). Those are the expectation we have today.”
DT: We were talking about the achievement gap. Do you see something we could tweak? Or do a little bit better?
Arcadio Morales: This is a ‘work in progress’. We will identify some key factors that can be improved to make education of Latino students more effective. We have to train culturally sensitive teachers who understand that socio-economic status may have to do with some of the learning obstacles being faced today. Cultural sensitivity means using material that helps the student relate; give him/her a voice; feel accepted and engaged in the learning process. It makes them feel alive… Kids will say ‘Wow…someone has experienced what I have gone through and it will make a difference in my life.”
Dean Ladany: One thing I want to add: There are 13,500 teachers in this region. Only 10% are Latino’; only 50% are bilingual. So there is a huge gap regarding what is available for students and what we can provide today in terms of our teacher preparation program.”
DT: Is it important for students to see a principal or teacher that they can identify with socially and culturally?
Arcadio Morales: “That is absolutely important. We need models who look like the student and who resonate with them. Even more important are teachers who have sensitivities for cultural nuances and the pedagogy in the way these students learn. You do not nave to be ‘brown’ to teach in a classroom of Latinos, but you do have to understand where they have been and come from. And what it takes to connect with them in the learning process.”
Dean Ladany: Let’s go back to the main objective and purpose. We need to be training culturally sensitive and responsive teachers. To have an impact and to meet our social justice mission. To be different from what other schools have done and to do it well. That is what this is all about.
DT: “What a great opportunity for all of us! Thank you for coming here to clarify matters and let us know what is being planned for that education facility. Now we know what is happening.”