Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Robbie Dean, '12

Teach for America, Dallas, TX

During Robbie’s senior year at Tulane, he was recruited by Teach for America to teach 5th grade Bilingual Education in Dallas, Texas. Teach for America recruits, trains, and supports recent college graduates and other young professionals to make an impact and provide leadership in predominantly low-income schools. TFA’s vision is centered on the ideal that all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, will receive a quality education.

As a second year TFA corps member, Robbie currently teaches over forty 5th grade students Spanish Reading & Language Arts, United States History and Science in the Dallas Independent School District. He serves a school of 1000 elementary students of Mexican and Central American background, many of whom are first and second-generation migrants. All of Robbie’s students are categorized as Limited English Proficient (LEP) and receive the majority of their core instruction in Spanish. Robbie was recently appointed by the administration as the campus’s Data Analysis Team Chair, in which he analyzes his school’s achievement data to vertically and horizontally align interventions across grade levels. This summer, Robbie was contracted by the Latino Cultural Center of Dallas to research and cultivate the center’s 2013-2014 educational curriculum. This curriculum is available for free to all Dallas public school teachers so that they may further introduce Latin American Studies and the arts in their classrooms.

He reflects on his time at Tulane…

Why did you choose to major in Latin American Studies?
During my freshman year at Tulane, I explored several different majors related to economics, public policy and Spanish language and literature. My array of academic interests did not fit one sole discipline. After meeting with advisors and academic counselors, I learned of Tulane’s reputable Stone Center for Latin American Studies. By becoming a Latin American Studies major, I knew that I could explore my interests in economic policy, cultural studies, and Spanish language without following a strict and rigid course of study.

This sensation of academic freedom allowed me to investigate Latin American economic reform in authentic ways my first year as an undergrad. As a participant in the Stone Center’s Summer Abroad program in Valparaíso, Chile, I researched and presented a comparison study of Chilean and Argentine educational reform. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to be able to engage in a research project abroad before becoming a Latin American Studies major.

Throughout my academic career at Tulane, the Stone Center consistently provided me exposure to careers in public policy and opportunities to develop my organizational and leadership skills. As a two-time Model of the Organization of American States participant, I was able to meet and learn from policy leaders at the World Bank, the IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank. Furthermore, I was able to collaborate with students throughout the Americas to prescribe and review policies to catalyze the region’s development.

How has your background in LAST helped you since graduation
Since graduation, employers and professionals have been most impressed by the quantity and quality of research required of LAST majors at Tulane. As a LAST major, I researched extensively different ways to affect economic change that would benefit Latin America‘€™s most marginalized and impoverished communities. One of the most important economic truths that I learned in my studies is that the main source of poverty is inequality in education. By augmenting this understanding with documented research projects and conference presentations, I was able to become a competitive candidate for Teach For America.

Additionally, employers are seeking bilingual and bicultural talent to accommodate an emerging Spanish-speaking market. The LAST major requires students to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole. Both my cultural and language experience in the region make me a more competitive candidate for positions not only in education but also in public, non-profit, and private sector administration.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently as an LAST major?
Personally, I would have used the interdisciplinary freedom of the Latin American Studies major to develop my quantitative and organizational skills more than I did while at Tulane. I now realize that leading organizations and graduate programs in policy and governance are seeking talent who demonstrate competency in organizational management with advanced knowledge in statistics, econometrics, and data analysis. Therefore, I would have used the flexibility of the program to take courses in other disciplines in order to develop said skills.

Any words of wisdom for LAST undergraduates?
I believe that the more specific the academic focus, the more valuable the Latin American Studies degree. In my brief experience, it seems that employers are seeking individuals who demonstrate passion and knowledge of a singular and complex issue rather than a general and broad focus of study.

Explore all of your interests but ultimately hone in on the issues that are most meaningful to you and most pertinent to the your potential career. Find as many ways to engage in research projects and conference presentations that explore these interests. Utilize both Tulane‘€™s and the Stone Center‘€™s abundant resources such as the Dean‘€™s Grant and other scholarships for research to help you fund these projects. Live and travel through Latin America in order to contextualize your studies and develop your foreign language ability. And ultimately, capitalize on the Senior Capstone to help you articulate your academic focus to potential employers.

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Ancient Civilizations K-16 Series for Social Studies Educators

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Ancient Civilizations
K-16 Educator Workshop Series
Spring 2020

For educators of grade levels: K-12

Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute (MARI), Stone Center for Latin American Studies (SCLAS), S.S. NOLA, and AfterCLASS will host a professional development workshop series open to all K-16 school professionals. These workshops will challenge educators to learn about the unexpected impact and connections of Ancient civilizations from Central America to the Gulf South. In particular, the workshops will foster a deeper comprehension of how to incorporate art, language and food across the disciplines. Participants will learn unique ways to incorporate the Tunica, Maya and Aztec cultures into the classroom in a variety of subjects. Registration for each workshop is $5 and includes light snacks, teaching resources, and a certificate of completion.

The workshop series will prepare teachers:

  • To utilize digital humanities resources in the classroom;
  • To design culturally appropriate primary and secondary research projects;
  • To teach about Pre-Columbian and ancient civilizations, language, geography and foods;
  • To encourage student self-determination through meaningful and relevant cultural projects.

Saturday, January 25, 2020
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
The Tunica of the Lower Mississippi River Valley
Middle American Research Institute – Seminar Room
6823 St. Charles Avenue
This workshop will introduce participants with little or no prior knowledge to ancient Tunica history, art, and language, with special focus on the role of food and native foods of this region. Participants will explore the physical, cultural and linguistic characteristics of the region. Representatives of the Tunica community will introduce their language and culture and the work they do to preserve their language.

Friday, March 6, 2020
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Understanding Maya Fare: Beyond Tamales and Cacao
AfterCLASS – Taylor Education Center
612 Andrew Higgins Blvd. #4003
In collaboration with the Annual Tulane Maya Symposium, this workshop focuses on foods of the Maya. Participants will explore the foods of the Maya focusing on the role of food over time. Join us as we hear from chocolate specialists and our Kaqchikel language scholar will discuss the importance of corn. REGISTER HERE.

Thursday, April 29, 2020
7:00 – 8:30 PM
Teaching Aztec History through Art
Participants in this workshop will explore the art and culture of the Aztec community. This workshop has moved online and will consist of a 60 minute online webinar that includes an introduction to teaching Aztec history, a discussion of different art objects that the Aztecs created which reveal insights into their history, and a discussion of new online resources to incorporate into your teaching.

The webinar is free an open to educators of all grade levels. In order to access the session, please register here.

Global Read Webinar Series 2020

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Diverse Books for the K-12 Classroom
February – June 2020 – All webinars are 6 PM CST
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Once a month, the World Area Book Awards (Américas Award, Africana Book Award, Freeman Book Award, Middle East Book Award, and the South Asia Book Award) will sponsor a 60-minute webinar on a book recognized by one of the awards. Each webinar features a presentation by an award-winning author with discussion on how to incorporate multicultural literature into the classroom. Please read along with us this spring as we explore the world through these award-winning books. We encourage all readers to join in on the conversations each month and ask the author your own questions live.

Be sure to join the conversation with our webinar hashtag #2020ReadingAcrossCultures. Visit www.internationalizingsocialstudies.blog for more information and to register for free.

  • AFRICAFEBRUARY 26, 2020 Africana Book Award
    Grandpa Cacao, A Tale of Chocolate from Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon
  • MIDDLE EASTMARCH 18, 2020 Middle East Book Award
    Darius the Great is Not OKAY by Adib Khorram
  • SOUTH ASIAAPRIL 14, 2020 – South Asia Book Award
    The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock
  • LATIN AMERICAMAY 11, 2020 – Américas Award
    Auntie Luce‘€™s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour
  • ASIAJUNE 23, 2020 – Freeman Book Award
    Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

All sessions are free and open to the public. Register by visiting internationalizingsocialstudies.org. Sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, the South Asia National Outreach Consortium, the Middle East Outreach Council, the African Studies Outreach Council, and The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.

Online Summer Book Group for K-12 Educators

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For pre-service, early career and veteran teachers who love reading and learning through literature who want to explore award-winning books for the middle and early high school classrooms. Join us as we read four books that explore stories of coming-of-age from multiple perspectives. Participants will receive a copy of each book and participate in an open discussion with other K-12 educators. We will launch the book group with The Other Half of Happy. The group will meet online and explore the real story behind this award-winning book with the author Rebecca Balrcárcel. Join us this summer as we discover new stories and books for your classroom.

Register here for $15 (includes all 4 books).

All online Zoom meetings are at 7:00 PM CST.

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Sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and AfterCLASS at Tulane University. For more information, please email crcrts@tulane.edu.