Candidate Statement for Vice President

As a Latina born in Salineño, Texas and raised in Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas, México until the age of 8, I was fortunate to have been schooled until the third grade where I developed strong Spanish literacy and mathematics skills. My family moved to California for one year, where I was labeled English as a Second Language (ESL). Afterward, we settled in Rio Grande City, Texas, and this label followed me until ninth grade. As is common with many English learners, I was placed in lower-level courses. 

My passion for teaching and mentoring students was inspired by Ms. Osuna, an English teacher who changed my pathway from English as a Second Language to English college-prep coursework, and Mr. Osuna, a mathematics teacher who was explicit about what was needed to get from pre-algebra to calculus at Rio Grande City High School. I have carried this inspiration to support Latinx students, who were also second language learners of English and primarily low-income and from rural settings, in teaching mathematics four years at the same high school. Teaching at Rio Grande City gave me the opportunity to learn about the importance of empowering culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students in mathematics.

With guidance from mentors, I earned three degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (B.S. in Education with Secondary Mathematics and Spanish as teaching concentrations, 1990; Masters of Education in Mathematics Education, 1994; Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specializations in bilingual and mathematics education, 1998). My academic career started as an Assistant Professor at Washington State University, and I have been at the University of New Mexico 21 years. During this time, I have had the honor of serving in several leadership roles including Senior Associate Dean for Research and Community Engagement, Director of the Center for Collaborative Research and Community Engagement, and Interim Department Chair of Teacher Education, Educational Leadership and Policy. Currently, I returned to my role as Professor of Bilingual/Mathematics Education where I continue my passion for teaching and mentoring students. In these roles, I have focused on creating an open and transparent environment where faculty, teachers, students, professional staff, and parents can exchange ideas, knowledge, resources, and envision solutions that address the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities through equitable practices. Samples of this work include the creation of the Center for Collaborative Research and Community Engagement at UNM and  publications by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Beyond Good Teaching: Advancing Mathematics Education for ELLs and Access and Equity: Promoting High-Quality Mathematics in Grades PreK-2 and Grades 3-5.  

My research interests include linguistic and cultural influences on the teaching and learning of mathematics, especially with bilingual students; preparing teachers to work with CLD students; children’s mathematical thinking; equity issues in mathematics education; and, integration of mathematics education with other fields. I have led or co-led several funded projects that focus on turning language and culture into educational assets in teaching and learning mathematics such as the Center for the Mathematics Education for Latinos/as (CEMELA), an NSF-funded project that involved a collaboration among four universities with several school districts. A major part of CEMELA’s work included mentoring over 32 doctoral and postdoctoral fellows and increasing the number of teachers to have integrated knowledge in language, culture, and mathematics. Currently, I (co)lead and collaborate in interdisciplinary projects to integrate mathematics and computing in rural and urban bilingual middle schools through three NSF-funded projects. 

I have had the honor of serving TODOS as a Board of Director, Chair of the 2016 TODOS Conference Program Committee, Editorial Board Member of Teaching for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics and currently as Vice President. I have served as Chair of the NCTM Research Committee and as a National Advisory Board Member of several NSF-funded projects. I am also an Editorial Board Member of the Bilingual Research Journal, the Journal of Latinos and Education, and Teachers College Record

In closing, my personal experience as an English language learner, my experience teaching high school mathematics to Latinx students in Rio Grande City, Texas, and the interdisciplinary research collaborations that serve CLD students inform my strong commitment to equity and access for all learners. Collectively, the work I have conducted has drawn from asset-based approaches and has challenged the deficit views often voiced about these students. If elected as Vice President, I will continue to provide support to educators to advance the mathematics education of all students, in particular Latinx students.