UHV aims new Spanish program at educators

The University of Houston-Victoria will help area teachers be better prepared to work with the growing number of Hispanic students in their classrooms through a new program in collaboration with the Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Mexico.


“We want to have teachers see how the Hispanic culture is distinct and learn how to relate to their students better,” said Vic Padelford, UHV director of international programs.


The new Spanish Language and Culture Program for Educators will kick off June 14 when elementary and secondary school teachers from schools in 11 Texas counties will spend two weeks taking classes at the Universidad Internacional, also known as Uninter, after completing a weeklong online orientation.


The program will continue in July when Victoria Independent School District will send about eight teachers through the program. Teachers also can choose any start date that works for them as long as they register 30 days in advance of their trip.


Similar programs are planned in the future for area residents working in nursing, law enforcement and the legal profession, Padelford said.


Participants in the teachers’ program will go to six hours of class Monday through Friday to develop their Spanish oral, written, reading and listening skills. They will attend conversational workshops about the Mexican education system and conferences about Hispanic traditions, folklore, politics, society and art. The teachers will participate in guided field trips to urban and rural schools, and excursions to historical and archaeological sites.


They can receive three UHV or continuing education credits for completing the program. Teachers also will begin a Spanish for Professionals Certificate with their enrollment in the program.


Padelford said teachers do not have to teach English as a Second Language to go through the program. It is for any teacher, or student studying to be a teacher, who wants to improve their skills working with Hispanic students. This is becoming increasingly important as the numbers of Hispanic students increase.


In Victoria Independent School District, for example, 57 percent of the student population is Hispanic. At Profit Magnet High School in Victoria, 61 percent of students are Hispanic.


“We really need to get teachers more comfortable dealing with the diversity that exists at Profit and in many other schools,” said Fernando Mesa, principal of Profit Magnet High School and a UHV graduate. “I hope my teachers who go through the program will bond as a team, have a better understanding of Mexican culture and be able to communicate in Spanish with students at school.”


The cost is $1,634 to participate, although everyone will get at least a $500 scholarship to lower the price, Padelford said. The fee includes all costs except air fare and excursions. The cost is being kept low because UHV invested $10,500 in the summer program as part of its partnership with Uninter to develop programs that will increase the international skills of students, faculty and staff at both universities.


Padelford is working with Salome Chavarria, who will coordinate the program at Uninter. Chavarria, who teaches linguistics and methods for teaching English as a Second Language at Uninter, is an exchange professor this semester at UHV but will go home for the summer.


For more information about the Spanish Language and Culture Program for Educators, contact Padelford at (361) 570-4186 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paula Cobler