Thursday, August 14, 2014

Backstory

The small university where I supervise and mentor beginning teachers is hiring a new teacher.  A professor, if you will.  It's a process that invites all members of the Ed. Dept. to participate by attending a formal presentation of the candidate's research, followed by an informal interview type discussion.  I'm not sure who makes the final decision, but I know I can provide feedback from my perceptions and that it will be considered by the dept. head and the other faculty.
There were three candidates, and I only attended one of the presentations because of schedule demands.  No matter.  I don't really work all that closely with the profs and I may not do this very much longer.  Of course, I say that every year and then go back for another round.
So, I decided to attend the presentation/interview for a candidate who attended two branches of the University of California, like me, and then lived and worked in and near the Bay Area.
I was not disappointed.  I say this because this woman had a backstory I found most unusual.
Before the reveal, let me just say that we endured the Power Point about her research, asked pertinent questions, calmed her nerves a bit, and then proceeded to have a concluding discussion that included feedback from everyone from current grad students to other profs and even the much qualified Dept. Secretary.  (She's the one who holds everything together.)

OK, here comes the real story.  This woman, whose research concerns the non-traditional support systems in a Latino community elementary school, was herself a member of a similar community.  In short, she was a white woman, adopted by a family of Latino migrants after receiving foster care in their home.
Ever heard of that?
She is also a first generation college student, as far as she knows.
People assume all sorts of things about migrant workers and their sub-culture.  This woman's life, in my view, has the potential to inspire and inform on a whole other level.  If it hasn't been done already, it should be.

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