When people see my unusual name, they naturally try to make sense of it. When they meet me, they are often surprised. My first name is French, from my grandmother. My last name is Filipino, from my husband. My middle name (Donnelly) is Irish from my father’s family. The ethnic and cultural complexity of my name is reflected in my ever more multicultural family. My two sons, one who self-identifies as Filipino and one who self-identifies as American or Other, have married women whose families came to the West Coast from Ecuador and the Bronx! I was actually born in South Philadelphia. I have lived in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Pennsylvania, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Spain, and Colorado. My father worked for the Navy and my husband served in the Navy, so along with my diverse ethno-linguistic cultural connections, I have experienced military culture as a dependent and spouse. In addition, I am fluent in Spanish. I used to teach Spanish, and like many of my colleagues in the field of modern languages the members of my nuclear and extended families have lived and worked with people from multiple cultures and languages. It was as a teacher of Spanish at San Diego State University that I became interested in the question that has driven my research, teaching, and professional service since that time: How do diverse people come together to make sense with one another and build collaboration and community? In seeking to understand the processes involved, I recognize myself as a person from the dominant culture who lives and learns in the borderlands of cultural contact zones.
As I earned my doctorate in Communication, specializing in the social, cultural, and historical basis of learning and development, I had the opportunity to work with many wonderful teachers, researchers, and scholars at the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, at the University of California, San Diego. My work there with the development of technology based learning environments offered me the opportunity to work with many colleagues and community members in California, Colorado, across the US, and in Mexico, Sweden, Denmark, and Spain. As you might have guessed, I have a broad view of culture that assumes that we each participate in many cultures and we all have a great deal to learn from one another.
My students at University of Colorado Denver:
While my doctoral students at CU Denver have been a pretty diverse bunch, my teacher education students and M.A. students in Linguistically Diverse Education have most often been from the dominant culture and a number have been challenged to think about themselves as having culture. Regardless of their cultural, ethno-linguistic, or professional backgrounds, I have found my students to be overwhelmingly open to new ideas, ready to question and reflect, and deeply concerned about the students they themselves teach. It has been a pleasure to co-construct our learning together, in person or on-line.
Classes I teach at the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development:
- Techniques of ESL - LLC 4825/5820
- Multicultural Education - LLC 5140
- Culture of the Classroom - LLC 5150
- Historical and Legal Foundations of Bilingual Education - LLC 5160
- Seminar on Learning and Learners - EDLI 7712
My research interests:
- Development of collaboration and community among diverse constituents
- Acquisition of languages and academic content by diverse learners
- Design and development of learning environments
When not working diligently for my university and students, I enjoy yoga and weight training, reading fiction and watching and discussing movies, cooking and socializing with family and friends, near and far.
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