Things That Matter

Fresno State Is Using A Grant To Get More Bilingual Latino Teachers In Classrooms

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) is taking initiative when it comes to putting more Latinos in and in front of the classroom. The college has received a $3.75 million grant toward programs for Latino students who want to become teachers at San Joaquin Valley area schools. Latino teachers represent 25 percent of public schools in Fresno County, while Latino students make up 65 percent of the population, according to the California Department of Education.

The goal of the new program is to increase the number of bilingual Latino teachers who will return to teach in their hometowns.

The historically Latino area is at a disparity when it comes to teacher-student ratio. There are currently 3.3 million Latinos attending California’s K-12 public school and with nearly 1.4 million English learners in the state. The gap is growing most noteably in Fresno County.

The program will start with recruiting early in local high schools, helping students through the community colleges then into Fresno State’s liberal studies and teacher credential program to earn a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. Patricia D. Lopez, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Fresno State, believes that the program comes at an important time in the history of the school district.

“As this population continue to grow that disconnect continues to stagger and it has gone up over the years,” Lopez said. “You can find a campus full of Latinos but only small handful of Latinos teachers. At the administrative level you are praying on this demographic to shoulder the responsibility and it plays into both the students and administration.”

Lopez says the disparity may have to do with retention rates. A recent study shows that Latino teachers are leaving the profession at higher rates than their peers.

Lopez says that district leaders must pay as much attention to understanding and creating the right culture to retain Latino teachers as they do to recruiting them. That starts with listening and learning from teachers and focusing on creating a culture where students and teachers are both set up to succeed.

“We really do need to do more when it comes to four year college graduates and retaining them,” Lopez says. “We can always do better and seeing so many Latino teachers leave the field is indicative of the lack of support they may have.”

Almost half of all undergraduate students at Fresno State are Latino and the percentage is higher at Fresno City and Reedley colleges where the Latino student population is 53 percent and 71 percent. This places an emphasis on having a sizable amount of teachers that reflect the population in the area.

The grant will also allow all three campuses to hire advisers and counselors dedicated to serving the would-be teachers.

“The grant is putting resources in advisers that will help students throughout the program,” Lopez says. “Having cultural understanding, breaking language barriers and understanding financial restraints are important and we think of them as holistic resources for our teachers.”

The teacher program will start in 2019 with 30 students who will take community college classes for two years before transferring to Fresno State. Each of the three campuses will have a designated resident counselor and director to support students throughout the program. Lopez hopes that by recruiting students from the Fresno community that will lead to them teaching locally. She has already seen a positive reaction from teachers, former students that are now teachers and students that want to be part of the program,

“This pipeline program is huge not only for the state at-large but for our community here where many are asking how can I be apart of this,” Lopez said. “People want to be a part of the conversation here in the central valley and hopefully that leads to having more Latinos leading classrooms.”


READ: Officials Have Made Voting In This Latino Kansas Town So Difficult And A Judge Ruled Against Making Things Easier

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The 2021 National Teacher of the Year Was Just Announced, and She’s Latina!

Fierce

The 2021 National Teacher of the Year Was Just Announced, and She’s Latina!

Photo via JulianaUrtubey3/Twitter

The coronavirus pandemic had challenged parents, students, and teachers in new ways that no one could even predict. But despite these challenges, many teachers have stepped up to the plate and have gone above-any-beyond to make sure their students get the best education ever. One of those teachers is Juliana Urtubey, the Las Vegas special education teacher who is the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.

Juliana Urtubey is the first Latino recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award since 2005.

The Council of Chief State School Officers chose Juliana Urtubey because she creates flexible curriculums in order to address each of her individual student’s needs. “Juliana Urtubey exemplifies the dedication, creativity and heart teachers bring to their students and communities,” said CEO of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Carissa Moffat Miller.

Urtubey holds a Bachelor’s and Masters degree in bilingual elementary education from the University of Arizona. She says she was attracted to teaching because “knew that I could be the kind of teacher that would just take it step by step, have a whole lot of celebration for kids, particularly kids with thinking and learning differences and really just make learning fun.”

Born in Colombia, Urtubey knows the importance of bilingual education for young students.

Urtubey herself went to a bilingual education magnet school before being moving to an area without a similar school. She says the experience made her realize how important it is for educators to think of their students’ background, culture, and identity.

Juliana Urtubey uses the Crestwood Elementary School’s community garden to teach her students. Urtubey started the community garden herself seven years ago, and since then, it has flourished into a vibrant outdoor classroom. Her students even formed a garden club called “Gnomies”. At her school, Ms. Urtubey is affectionately known as “Ms. Earth”.

In a special surprise, First Lady and fellow educator Dr. Jill Biden surprised Ms. Urtubey with a bouquet of flowers during her interview with CBS.

Ms. Urtubey was visibly shocked at the surprise visit, looking like she couldn’t believe that First Lady Biden was there. “Look at Juliana — I mean, she is just the epitome of a great teacher, a great educator,” said Dr. Biden. Urtubey, who has called Dr. Biden one of her “heroes” in the past, was equally honored to meet the First Lady.

Ms. Urtubey has these words of wisdom for what it means to be a great teacher: “It’s about connecting and making relationships. I’m advocating for students to have a joyous and just education, where they experience joy in every part of their school.”

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Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Entertainment

Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Dana Hutchings, 41, entered a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game in 2019. He choked and died during the contest and now his son has filed a lawsuit against the baseball team.

The son of a man who died from a taco eating contest is suing for wrongful death.

Dana Hutchings, 41, died after choking during a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game. His son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the event organizers were not equipped to host the event. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the organizers failed to provide a medical response team.

“People say all the time he knew what he was getting into, well clearly he didn’t,” Martin Taleisnik, an attorney representing Hutchings’ son, Marshall told CBS17.

Marshall and his attorney are pushing back at the notion that Dana should have known better.

People have sounded off on social media criticizing the family for filing the lawsuit. Yet, the family and their attorney are calling attention to the lack of information given to contestants.

“If you don’t know all the pitfalls, how can you truly be consenting and participating freely and voluntarily? It’s a risk that resulted in a major loss to Marshall,” Taleisnik told CBS17.

Dana’s family is seeking a monetary settlement from the Fresno Grizzlies owners.

The wrongful death lawsuit names Fresno Sports and Events as the responsible party. The lawsuit also notes that alcohol was made available to contestants and added to the likelihood of the tragedy.

“We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening’s game has passed away. The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings,” a statement from the Fresno Grizzlies read after the death in 2019. “The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority. We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.”

READ: Kobe Bryant’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Has Tragically Been Moved To Federal Court Despite Vanessa Bryant’s Pleas

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