Dual language programs, in which classes are given in English and Spanish, have exploded in popularity within San Antonio. In the school districts of the historically Mexican American Westside, there are 23 dual language programs, ranging from early childhood to high school, and including Washington Irving Academy, an entirely dual language campus (EISD, 2019; SAISD, 2021).
Dual language programs seek to promote bilingualism, biliteracy, biculturalism, and high academic achievement, and to empower students by recognizing their cultural identity (e.g., Malik, 2019; SAISD, 2019). The idea of empowerment is essential, as U.S. Spanish speakers suffer from insecurity. While they believe their language is an important part of their identity, they also tend to see it as deficient, incorrect, and useless outside of the family (e.g., George & Peace, 2019; Villa, 2003; Zentella, 2007).
This project presents the story of Spanish on the Westside, its diminishing over time, how the school system historically limited its reach, and how schools today are fighting to give it a place of importance in society. Included are articles, statistics, and interviews with multiple generations of Westside residents and students. We showcase the great work that dual language programs do and encourage other educators to recognize their students’ culture, identity, and language.
To view the research above on a larger page, check out this link.
The Westside Stories documentary filmmaking project was completed in Spring 2019 to fulfill the requirements for the undergraduate course, Media Production II. The students in this course creating documentary films about business owners and employees on San Antonio’s Westside. The upper division course included eight students, seven of whom completed a Westside Stories documentary.
The project intended to teach students the practical skills of creating short documentary films such as interviewing, sound and video recording, and audio-visual editing; work with community partners to create narratives; grow the connection between St. Mary’s University and the immediate Westside San Antonio community; and help students hone their ability to listen for and to diverse stories, and create an understanding of the value of vernacular, everyday stories, and the specific stories of the people within this community.
St. Mary’s University presents a transformative theatre project capturing the spiritual and cultural realities of youth and young adults in Holy Rosary Catholic Parish located in San Antonio, Texas, telling their stories through performance using all theatrical elements — props, lighting, projection, sound, costumes, scenic units, and text/story.
The project was created by St. Mary’s University students Jorge Martinez, Rachel Huron, Gabriella Rivera, McKayala Rodriguez, and Vanessa Wheatly. A portion of the proceeds from tickets benefited Holy Rosary Catholic Parish.
Watch the full performance below.
Professor Bernadette Hamilton-Brady and students conducted interviews and surveys to develop the theatrical project. The interviews and surveys captured stories from the Youth at Holy Rosary Parish. Professor Bernadette Hamilton-Brady also interviewed parishioner Jerry Martinez, who recounts his past experiences at Holy Rosary and offers guiding wisdom to the Youth. You can access the transcript of the interview below.