The Literacy Connection

Volume 1 Issue 4

Celebrating Women's History Month

As recent as the 1970s, women's history was virtually an unknown topic in K-12 education curriculum. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration for 1978. Women continued to mobilize this movement in an effort to gain recognition. In 1980, President Carter proclaimed the week of March 8th as National Women's History Week. By 1986, nearly 14 states had recognized the month of March as Women's History Month. Then, in 1987 congress proclaimed March as National Women's History Month. This month we reflect on women who are a powerful group of individuals in society today! In the last few months, we have witnessed the empowerment and unity of women as they speak out in support of many important causes including sexual assault (through the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements), the gender wage gap, maternal and infant healthcare, women in STEM fields, and human trafficking.

This issue of The Literacy Connection will honor A&M-SA President, Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson as she brings a strong vision to the university community which remains committed to student success.

Honoring our President, Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson

Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson is the second president at A&M-SA and an inspiration to our university and local community. In a recent interview, Dr. Rebekah Piper had an opportunity to learn from Dr. Matson and engage in an intimate conversation about education, mentorship, and being a successful woman in the academy.

RP: Growing up as a woman of Color, did you envision a career in higher education or in the academy?

CM: My parents expressed the importance of education, and I understood there was an expectation to go to college. I pursued my degrees in business and always figured I would be in the business community; working in areas of marketing and finance. However, I never had a dream of having a career in higher education. In fact, there are less than 2% of Latina Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). It was the network of people and individuals who mentored and believed in me and ultimately encouraged me to enter higher education as a finance professional. The best advice that I can give other women is, be the best at everything that you're doing and those doors will open for people who are willing to work hard and commit.

RP: What are three characteristics that you view as most valued in your leadership role as President of A&M - SA?

CM: I think it is really important to be visionary and innovative. I have to remember that my job is to consider what this university will be in 30 years. I drive those conversations with the leadership team. Building the relationships and being accessible and personable is important to make sure that we close the loop and do what we say we're going to do. Finally, being a strategic thinker to help create open minds and in turn open doors for everyone including students, faculty, and staff is important. Each of these characteristics is important.

RP: Having received various awards and honors, including the Top 40 under 40 by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, what advice would you give to scholars who strive to achieve such honors?

CM: Do your best work because when you're doing your best work your passion will shine through. When your passion shines through, people will notice. Remember it is never really about you, it's more about the impact that you're having in the community.

RP: In a place where women are often not seen at the forefront of leadership roles, how do you navigate your day to day interactions with others in leadership positions?

CM: Creating a network of leaders, faculty and students who believe in their successes. I go to bed at night and wake up in the morning thinking about student success! That is what drives and inspires me. My leadership lens is always on and the focus remains on ensuring our students are successful. I get a lot of energy from students, and I am motivated by their stories, their struggles, their successes, and their accolades. My leadership lens is all the time focusing on students, faculty, and the community. I was meant to be at the table helping make the critical decisions for our university.

RP: We are excited about your newly elected position as the president for San Antonio’s Tricentennial Commission. What exciting plans and events can we expect to see at A&M - SA?

CM: There are 700 events occurring with 500 partners. There are about 80 truly unique tricentennial events. Every class on campus should engage in learning about this important time. I will be putting a call out to faculty for class projects and presentations this semester, and I encourage everyone to visit the Presido Gallery during this historic time.

We honor Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson for her student centered mindset and vision for our San Antonio community.

For more information on the SA300 Tricentennial Events visit San Antonio 300.

A&M-SA Literacy Faculty Reflections

Introduce your students to American women who made history! Teach about Ruby Bridges, Tenley Albright, Gloria Steinem. To learn more about Women's History Month activities for students, visit Scholastic.

Second Annual Hot Topics in Literacy Series Kicks Off

On Tuesday, February 27th. Dr. Ramona Pittman presented, "Why do They Talk Like That: The Roots of African American English (AAE) and How it Affects Students' Reading, Writing, and Speaking Skills. Participants learned about the historical context of AAE and engaged in dialogue about various strategies that can be used to foster home language while increasing students' academic language.

Exploring West Texas through a Writing Project Write-A-Thon

On February 23rd, Reading graduate students explored West Texas during a special event at the Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE) annual conference in Canyon, TX.

Upon boarding the limousine, the group traveled across Route 66 to the first stop, Cadillac Ranch. Prior to approaching the cars, students reflected on the sights of the open space and the number of Cadillacs in sight. As they approached the cars, students explored the various images that had been created by other visitors using spray paint. They too were excited as the thought of creating their own art using spray paint became a reality, as visually representing is a form of language arts. For some, the idea of using spray paint on a Cadillac was unreal! The thoughts and sounds of creativity brought wonderful conversation pieces to Cadillac Ranch.

On to the next stop, the students continued across West Texas to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The canyon which is also known as, "the Grand Canyon of Texas" is approximately 120 miles long and 20 miles wide. This stop provided an open and quiet space for students to reflect on the beauty of nature and focus on their own creative writing. Finally, the group ended the morning with a picnic lunch in Palo Duro Canyon. This time allowed for students to engage in conversation about their experiences and explore the canyon trails. Just as any Writing Project event comes to a close, the students were invited to share their writing with one another.

Representing A&M-SA at the Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE) Annual Conference

Reading Graduate students presented their research during the annual TALE conference. Conference leadership and attendees praised students for their commitment to literacy education! We invite you to learn more about the work that TALE is doing across Texas.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Ivett-Karla D. Salas is a junior at A&M - SA. She is majoring in the area of Interdisciplinary Studies. Specifically, Ivett-Karla has a concentration in Early Child-Grade 6 Generalist. Ivett is a real pleasure to have in class because she is very supportive of her classmates. She always has a smile on her face and is extremely uplifting to all of those around her. She loves to help others which is a real gift for an upcoming educator. During her presentations, she is well prepared for the task and delivers her lesson in a professional manner. I look forward to seeing her bloom into a classroom teacher. The children who will get the pleasure of having her as their teacher will love and adore her as she will them.

Submitted by Ms. Teresa Mata, Undergraduate Adjunct Faculty

Outstanding Graduate Student

Mark Gonzales became interested in obtaining his master's degree after learning about the SAISD partnership. Currently, Mark is in his first year as a graduate student in the Literacy Program at A&M - SA. Mark gains his inspiration from his sister Elizabeth, who years ago suffered a near fatal car accident and was told she would never walk again. Despite this set back, she continued her education and earned a master's degree from the University of the Incarnate Word. Mark looks forward to joining his sister upon the completion of his degree at A&M-SA. As for advice for future graduate students, Mark says, "This is a marathon, not a sprint." He strongly suggests that students maintain focus to set realistic goals and find a balance between your career, your education, and your personal life.

Submitted by Dr. Rebekah Piper, Assistant Professor of Literacy

Outstanding Alumni Student

Sarah Collins is an alumna who graduated in 2015 and has been teaching in LVISD as a reading and writing teacher as well as at A&M-SA as an adjunct faculty member of the College of Education and Human Development in the Department of Educator and Leadership Preparation. She has taught in three districts for grades 2-5. She has organized a GT program for her campus and is leading the fifth grade groups. Sarah spends most of her time collaborating with others on ideas to put into motion that will blow the minds of young readers and educators alike. She is currently runnin’ like a chicken to raise three teenage boys, differentiating multiple rotations of reading classes, managing a number of reading ability and interests groups, molding young educators, and finding time to develop a farm and homestead.

Submitted by Mary Kay Cooper, Director of Alumni Affiairs, Office of University Advancement

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A Slice of Learning

Tuesday, April 3rd, 11am-12:15pm

Vista Room

Students are invited to join Dr. Saundra McGuire for a pizza luncheon: A Slice of Learning. The first 50 students will receive a free copy of Dr. McGuire’s newest book for students, How I Can Teach Myself to Learn. This is a great opportunity to learn about metacognitive practices that will increase student learning and overall academic success. We look forward to seeing you there!

Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Dr. Ramona Pittman at in advance of the event.

Literacy Program Graduate Students Attend Critical Questions In Education Conference (CQIE)

Graduate students in the literacy program will attend the Critical Questions in Education Conference in Portland, Oregon. Marisa Barerra, Summer Garison, Eric Guerra, Ariana Martinez, Ari Moreno, and Angel Prado will present their graduate research projects on topics around early literacy, gifted education, and co-teaching. Visit CQIE for more information about the conference.

A&M-SA Graduate Students Recognized as Teachers of the Year for the 2017-2018 Year!

A&M - SA Faculty and Student Scholarship

Piper, R.E., Jozwiak, M. M., & Pittman, R. T. (2018). Exploring Praxis: Teachers' Attitudes
Towards the Incorporation of LGBTQ-Themed Multicultural Children's
Literature. American Psychological Association – Wayne F. Placek Grant.
($9,660). Pending.

Piper, R.E. & Pittman, R.T. (2018). Multicultural Children’s Literature and The Early

Childhood Classroom. San Antonio Regional PK-12 Education Forum. ($5,000).


Literacy Program Faculty

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