Bilingual/Bicultural Education Joins the Arts & Humanities Department

A Conversation with Professor
Maria E. Torres-Guzman

Professor Maria E. Torres-Guzman, Bilingual/Bicultural Education Program Coordinator, sees her field as evolving. And this evolution includes the very natural move of the program to the Arts & Humanities Department.  “In the world, multilingualism is becoming more and more important.  With the spread of English comes the need for preserving the languages of the world…it’s not just about bilingualism, but actually multilingualism in many different communities.  I’m really excited about the field and all the possibilities there.”  She welcomes the move to Arts & Humanities, where she feels the Department will give BBE students valuable teacher education support and a variety of programs that students can access.  She adds that the support of the Department will “give our program the space to grow in a different way”.

What is the quintessential educational outlook that informs the BBE program? As Torres-Guzman describes it, “We are not a language program, per se, but an educational program in which language and culture become lenses…The essence of our work is related to the children and the ability to have them go through education where they can use more freely all the resources they bring into learning.  And that means their native language, their cultural background, as well as their cognitive development.”

The spotlight is on Torres-Guzman for another reason as well:  She recently received two awards from the elite American Educational Research Association (AERA).  The first was for Mentoring by Division G:  Social Context in Education, which is “very meaningful” because it was her students and colleagues who cast the vote.  And, since Torres-Guzman has spent most of her life working with teachers and helping them look into their classrooms “to think about what Bilingual Education can be,” it is most fitting that her second accolade was the AERA Bilingual SIG Lifetime Achievement Award.  When asked about her lifetime body of work, Torres-Guzman describes it as having “a lot of  ‘vertientes’, as you would say in Spanish, or ‘pathways.’” As she explains:  “I started with Bilingual Education like everyone else, but then I started focusing on dual-language education because I saw it from a democratic perspective.  This perspective spoke to some of the issues of being marginalized in a different way.”

Today Torres-Guzman sees the need for documenting the work of many New York City women in the field of bilingual education.  Saddened by the “invisibility of those who made it all happen,” she is working on a book that records their important historical legacy.

As BBE joins the Arts & Humanities Department, Torres-Guzman continues on the pathway that she describes as “lifelong and very personal,” and one that she is eager to share with TC students.

Introducing the Bilingual/Bicultural Faculty and Staff:

Dr. Patricia Martinez
Dr. Martinez is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the BBE program.  She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Education with a major in Instructional Technology and a minor in Multilingual Multicultural Education from George Mason University.  Her expertise lies in Bilingual Special Education and Instructional Technology, and has 15 years of experience in the field of bilingual special education in the United States and in Spain.

Dr. Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán
Associate Professor in the BBE program, Dr. Martínez-Roldán earned her Ph.D. in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona. Prior to her current position, she was Associate Professor of Bilingual Bicultural Education and Language and Literacy in the College of Education at The University of Texas. She is particularly concerned about how to create classroom contexts that offer quality learning experiences to young children, especially bilingual Spanish/English children.

Rebecca Solow
After a three years as the Academic Secretary for Social Studies Education, Rebecca is now the Secretary for BBE.
This part-time role allows her to work towards her MFA at Hartford Art School.  Her goals include illustrating children’s books, and her cv features such highlights as working at Egyptian dig sites on technical drawings of 4,000 year-old hieroglyphs.