I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, a town with a very multicultural environment, which I think prepared me for feeling comfortable in many different types of environments. My family has been in Texas since the 1840’s so I have deep roots there. I have two children, and one grandson.
My educational background is in instructional technology and social studies. My doctorate is in Instructional Technology from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. My other degrees include a bachelor’s in history, two Master’s degrees (one in the Masters of Arts of Teaching social studies, a second in cultural anthropology).
I have Texas Education Agency certification in both social studies and information processing technologies for grades 6-12 as well as social studies certification in the state of Ohio for grades 7-12. I have three years experience teaching at the middle school level, two years specifically teaching social studies subjects.
Here at the University of Texas at El Paso, I have had the opportunity to work in an educational environment that values field-based learning experiences, constructivist learning, cooperative learning, and authentic and alternative assessment. Although I have strong instructional technology skills, I cannot teach the “application” in isolation of an instructional philosophy of teaching and learning. Technology, in my view, is a tool we can utilize to increase both our personal productivity as well as our students’ learning, but without strong instructional strategies, technology is a dead end. Technology can be used as a lever to introduce change in teaching and learning roles in an educational environment. Since most of us are not technology experts, we are often learning as our students are learning or even from our students. Music, theater, debate, and sports all feature students learning and performing with the coaching of their instructors. I see myself as a facilitator of learning in an environment that features constructivist learning activities, authentic tasks and assessments.
While at University of Texas at Austin, I was the coordinator of the IDEA Studio (Innovation Design of Educational Activities), a faculty technology lab, supporting faculty in the College of Education in their efforts to integrate instructional technology into their classrooms and online teaching. I was the only outside person on the University’s Center for Instructional Technology planning team who designed a series of workshops for faculty. In addition, I was the program coordinator for the three-week University of Texas-Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) Summer Institutes on Cooperative and Collaborative Learning for three years, from 2000-2002.I was also webmaster for the College’s Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to use Technology grant.
One of the most significant events of my life occurred in 2001, when I traveled to Cairo, Egypt, to work with Elizabeth Fernea, who had a grant to produce Living with the Past, a film portrait of Darb Al-Ahmar, a neighborhood in the heart of the old city. I had known Mrs. Fernea and her husband for many years before they invited me along for their adventure. Dr. Robert Fernea was chairman of my masters thesis committee in anthropology. My job in Cairo was to photograph locations for the film crew in order to prepare the future website. I have included some of the most striking photographs here. Mrs. Fernea died in 2008 and her philanthropic organization closed down the website.
"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts." -- C. S. Lewis