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Luis Poza

Assistant Professor, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education


My story:

I was born in Costa Rica and grew up bouncing around Central and South America (as well as a couple years in Portugal) as the son of Cuban exiles in the U.S. Foreign Service. Through my friendships, schooling and travels, I learned a lot about openness to multiple perspectives and how experience and community shape our language, our beliefs and our practices. Growing up this way also taught me a lot about privilege, power and inequality.

These early notions were refined when I moved to the U.S. at age 16 and then when I completed a BA in Latin American Studies at Yale University. Again, I had to reflect on my own privilege of class, color, education and gender identity, and decided to try my hand as a classroom teacher believing schools to be a viable locus for change.

My years teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area and Harlem, New York alternately exhausted and inspired me. I strove for equitable, high achieving classrooms that operated democratically and empowered students, but never quite felt that my classrooms got far enough. I took my curiosity and frustration to Stanford's Graduate School of Education to study ideologies about language, learning and teaching, and completed my PhD in 2014. I look forward to further work in the service of diverse and historically marginalized students and their families as part of the CU Denver faculty.

My students at CU Denver:

I work with current and aspiring teachers dedicated to making schools and society more equitable for culturally and linguistically diverse students. With remarkable variety in their own upbringings and educational and professional experiences, my students bring a great deal of insight and curiosity with them. My role as an educator is to respect, value and incorporate these perspectives as shared foundations for all of us to strengthen our understandings of how to optimize diversity and democracy in our learning environments. I hope each student leaves my classes with greater theoretical and practical understanding of the challenges to equity in schools and strategies to surpass them, particularly with regard to the ideologies and stereotypes confronting emergent bilingual students. As the Zapatista militants stated in their Fourth Declaration from the Lacandón Jungle in 1996, El mundo que queremos es uno donde quepan muchos mundos. La Patria que construimos es una donde quepan todos los pueblos y sus lenguas, que todos los pasos la caminen, que todos la rían, que la amanezcan todos. [The world we seek is one in which many worlds fit. The nation we build is one with space for all peoples and their languages, that all may walk upon, where all may laugh, to which all may awaken.]

Classes I teach:

  • Multicultural Education – CLDE 5140
  • Methods and Materials of Language Teaching – CLDE 5825 (taught bilingually in Spanish and English)
  • Equity, Rights, and Education – EDFN 1000 (starting Fall 2015)

My research interests:

My research interests are language ideologies and language practices in multilingual schooling contexts, bilingual education and education for social justice.

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