Ricardo Romo and Sarah Moten
UTSA President Ricardo Romo and USAID representative
Sarah Moten

Education college inspires two-way, dual-language program

By Marianne McBride Lewis
Director of Public Affairs

(May 15, 2006)--When Sarah Moten got off the plane in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago, she knew her timing couldn't be better.

Her work would include meetings with Misty Sailors, assistant professor of interdisciplinary learning, regarding a $2.5 million grant funded by her agency. The visit also would include a field trip to an SAISD elementary school to observe a two-way, dual language program that is up and running with great success.

And after work, Moten would save a little time for fun, particularly since her first visit to San Antonio was during the city's much heralded spring celebration, Fiesta. What she learned quickly is that during Fiesta, even work is fun.

The UTSA College of Education and Human Development hosted the April 22-26 visit from Moten, education division chief of the Africa Bureau Office of Sustainable Development for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and her colleague Joe Kitts, the agency's senior education adviser. For four days, they attended meetings, briefings and visits -- with some Fiesta medal collecting and a river parade thrown in for good measure.

The Fiesta spirit permeated everything, including the mood at Storm Elementary School on Wednesday morning. On her last day in festive San Antonio, Moten was welcomed in song by the colorfully attired Storm Lightnin' Choir, with dancing by the kindergarten folkloric dance troupe and with a gift -- a beautiful gold and red rebozo (shawl).

She was at Storm to meet with teachers of the two-way dual language program, observe teaching methods and talk with parents from the West Side school.

UTSA education professionals have worked with Storm Elementary since 1996 to help develop and monitor the results of their dual-language program that offers students bilingual proficiency within seven years.

In fall 2005, Sailors was awarded funding from the Textbook and Learning Materials Program (TLMP) through President Bush's Africa Education Initiative. The initiative funds African education programs for teacher training, working with marginalized populations and developing textbooks and other learning materials.

Under TLMP, UTSA and the South African Department of Education will collaborate to create at least 600,000 learning resources for children in South Africa -- a country with 11 official languages and an education policy calling for children to be proficient in at least two.

UTSA's expertise in bilingual-bicultural studies is demonstrated by the success of the dual-language program at Storm Elementary. As a result, Moten's impression of San Antonio included much more than Fiesta fun.

More than once Moten was heard telling youngsters, "I want to take all of you back with me."

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