Arcadia Hernandez Lopez
Arcadia Hernandez Lopez

'Barrio teacher' remembers UTSA with gift

By James Benavides
Public Affairs Specialist

(Oct. 4, 2007)--After more than 40 years in the classrooms of the Navarro Academy and the San Antonio Independent School District, educator Arcadia Hernandez Lopez created a legacy that never will be forgotten. Lopez bequeathed nearly $700,000 to establish the UTSA Arcadia Lopez Endowed Scholarship fund for students pursuing degrees in bilingual education. The former teacher died in January at age 98.

At an Oct. 4 reception honoring the life of Lopez and her contributions to bilingual education, UTSA President Ricardo Romo announced the creation of the UTSA Arcadia Lopez Endowed Scholarship fund. Dignitaries at the event included former Mayor Henry Cisneros, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Joe Bernal of the Texas Board of Education, who took a few moments at the Texas Association of Bilingual Educators general session to attend the reception and recognize Lopez' legacy.

"Dr. Lopez was a dedicated teacher and an advocate for all children, but in particular bilingual children," said Bertha Perez, professor and associate dean for research in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development. "This gift will ensure, regardless of the political climate around language policies and immigration issues, that there will always be support at UTSA for students preparing to become bilingual teachers."

Lopez was a pioneer in education, not only because of the bilingual programs she helped establish, but also because of her uncommon achievements as a minority female student in the 1930s. Lopez graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University in 1934 with a degree in mathematics and education. She earned a master's in education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1938 and a doctorate from Nova University in Florida.

Lopez' memoir, "Barrio Teacher," tells her story of escaping revolution in Mexico, coping with the confusion of immigration and living through the Great Depression. Having experienced difficulties brought on by language barriers in the classroom, Lopez dedicated her life to bilingual education. Her legacy touched hundreds of bilingual education teachers through the development of curriculum models and lesson plans as far back as the 1960s when such resources were scarce.

Over three decades, the UTSA Division of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies became a leader in preparing researchers, educators and community leaders. The department is committed to the educational needs of traditionally underserved populations. UTSA's bicultural-bilingual studies faculty and students study, design and participate in bilingual and second-language teaching, Mexican-American studies, and multicultural functions of society, migration, transnationalism and ethnic studies.