How does anyone bring significant contributions of uniqueness and innovation to a community that emerged out of a millenary history where cultures, languages, and diverse peoples blended into a modern community?
Las Cruces, the largest town in Doña Ana County, has its origins in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 when Native American refugees from that war with Spain founded Tortugas Pueblo, now a Las Cruces neighborhood just to the west of Interstate 10. Tiguas, Piros, and Manzos survived Spanish, Mexican, and American colonization as residents of what eventually became Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.A. When the descendants of these indigenous groups see the sunrise against the backdrop of the Organ Mountains, they refer to this national monument as “La Sierra (mountain range) de los Manzos.”
Located less than an hour’s drive from the U.S.-Mexico border and the Texas Stateline, this community celebrates Native American, Mexican, and American cultural heritage while facing the challenges of a global economy emerging in this new century. This is the social background of Las Cruces Public Schools, serving a student population that is 75.1% Hispanic in a city where Hispanics comprise 60.5% of the population (https://datausa.io/profile/geo/las-cruces-nm#demographics).
An effective and Challenging Bilingual Education Model
Crucial to the success of the 90:10 model of a two-way language immersion approach is a bilingual/biliterate school culture where the value of Spanish and English is evident in all aspects of school life. When anyone walks in Raíces del Saber Xinachtli Community School they know that this is an institution where both languages are readily used and valued. It is also be a place where children whose native language is English is as welcome as Spanish Language Learners thus enriching our goal of biliteracy.
Xinachtli (Sheen-ach-tlee), Cultural Responsiveness and Academic Enhancement
Xinachtli, an Aztec word meaning “germinating seed,” is an enrichment program supported by a curriculum that utilizes a process to enrich student learning in all content areas and fosters a positive personal identity and is a culturally responsive approach that focuses on an aspect of Hispanic (Mexican American) culture that is rarely addressed, its indigenous roots. The way we incorporate this into the curriculum is not merely by providing children information about a Mesoamerican heritage but involving them in a Mesoamerican-rooted process that includes self-expression, introspection, mathematics, science, history, and literature.
It uses Nahuatl (Aztec) as an enrichment language through development of a Nahuatl vocabulary, simple phrases, and words of common use in Spanish of Nahuatl origin. Xinachtli offers a diverse way of looking at the world and provides content relevant to the historic, linguistic, cultural roots of Mexican American heritage.
Community Lead – Community School
The Raíces leadership team in collaboration with parents, students, faculty members, school board, community partners, the support from Community Schools NMPED, NACA Inspired Schools Network, W.W. Kellogg Foundation, and community at large, are creating an open school environment within a U.S.-Mexico Border cultural context. As part of the Success Partnership, we are having the opportunity to expand our contribution across sector on education. Thanks to this partnership, our community are building a strong collaborative leadership going beyond wraparound services and great isolated programs.
Raíces del Saber Xinachtli Community School is itself a unique, innovative idea working towards being actualized as a positive, contributing entity to our community. We bring to public education an enthusiastic effort to be inclusive of the rich diversity that has contributed to the making of a modern community out of ancient experience and modern history. We are continually looking for those who are willing to contribute to the social and personal development of our students. We are eager to create space for the descendants of the Tigua and Piro who came to this area 400 years ago, the Manzo who inhabited these land centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. Raíces del Saber (Roots of Knowing) Xinachtli Community goes beyond a curriculum that is facts, information, and academic goals. We want to be a “living, growing” contributing institution to a population at the crossroads of history.
Visit our website at www.raicesdelsaber.org, for more information you can reach out to Raices Director of Operations and Community Engagement, Lucia Carmona at (575) 571-2177 or email at email@example.com
By Carlos Aceves, Bilingual Teacher and Lucia V. Carmona.
Co-founders of Raíces