EDINBURG – At a news conference at the Museum of South Texas History, The UTRGV B3 Institute received a $2 million-grant from the U.S. Department of Education for their new program Historias Americanas: Engaging History and Citizenship in the Rio Grande Valley.
The place-based professional development program for K-12 teachers is being developed by UTRGV faculty in collaboration with Edinburg and Brownsville school districts.
The program will bring together 75 teachers each year over a three-year period so they can develop other methods of teaching other that what they already know in current and historical understandings of American history, civics, government and geography.
“We want teachers to be more conscience of issues that are in their own back yard,” Executive Director of the B3 Institute Dr. Francisco Guajardo said.
The Edinburg and Brownsville school districts were invited be the first districts to participate not only because of their size but also because UTRGV operates mainly within their territories.
Edinburg North High School history teacher Juan Ortega has been writing curriculum for Edinburg CISD for nine years. An advantage of writing curriculum Ortega has been able to utilize during the school year is knowing all the answers students have in class.
Ortega thinks this grant will afford teachers the opportunity to create resources and provide answers for students in the classroom in the unique history the Rio Grande Valley has to offer.
“I know teachers will be excited,” Ortega said. “We're passionate about history but it is hard as educators to infuse that passion for students as well.”
When receiving grants, most donors want create initiatives, not systemic change. The budget set for the grant was divided so educators can travel and spread the word of what they are doing in the classroom with Historias Americanas.
Part of that travel will be in the Region in hopes other school districts will be inspired on how they can see themselves using the curriculum.
The materials that will be created in the program will also be digitally archived so other educators throughout the region, state and nation can have access to the curriculum. The content will be in English and Spanish giving bilingual and dual language educators content.
“The importance of the grant is to transport social education so that the content can be inclusive, diverse and more accurate,” Project Director for Historias Americanas Dr. Maritza De La Trinidad said.