ANITA FERNANDEZ, Ph.D.

WHO IS XITO?

Anita Fernández is a scholar activist at Prescott College (Arizona) and teaches in both the undergraduate Education program and the graduate program in Social Justice and Human Rights.  Anita’s work in education began as a high school English teacher in Tucson, Arizona which later influenced her research to focus on preparing activist teachers who are both compassionate and critically conscious.  Anita is locally and nationally involved with organizations that focus on Latinx access to education, social justice activism, critical pedagogy and transformative teacher education.  Anita has worked closely with the now banned Mexican American Studies program in Tucson, and in that work she created a structure for the eliminated classes to continue on in a non-formal setting for college credit from Prescott College.  Anita co-founded La Tierra Community School, a K-8 Expeditionary Learning school in Prescott, AZ, and is also the co-founder and Director of XITO.

SEAN ARCE, Ph.D.

Sean Arce, co-founder and former director of the nationally renowned and now banned K-12 Mexican American Studies Department in Tucson, Arizona, received the first Myles Horton Award for Teaching People’s History from the Zinn Education Project (ZEP) in 2012. ZEP honored Arce "for his instrumental role in nurturing one of the most significant and successful public school initiatives on the teaching of history in the United States." His work has been highlighted on PBS, Democracy Now and National Public Radio. As an activist urban educator who has worked in public schools for nearly 20 years, Arce believes that what made his colleagues and himself effective the was the implementation and continuous development of a “Barrio Pedagogy.” Within this innovative and transformative pedagogy, indigenous epistemologies and social justice based frameworks were utilized where students and teachers in collaboration co-constructed an educational experience that fostered an academic identity and the development of a strong cultural identity. Arce received his Bachelor’s of Arts in Mexican American Studies from the University of Arizona and his Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Arce is currently teaching high school Xicana/o Studies classes in Azusa Unified School District which fulfill the University of California "A-G" course requirements. He is currently working towards his doctorate in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona.

NORMA GONZALEZ, M.A.

Norma Gonzalez has been an Indigenous Studies Critical Educator for over 20 years focusing her work with students utilizing and Culturally Humanizing Pedagogy. Professionally Norma was a curriculum specialist with the K-12 Mexican American Department for ten years where Norma wrote curriculum that is culturally relevant and implements it with all students utilizing critical pedagogy from an indigenous epistemology. Another curricular focus for Norma centers on ecology, environmental justice and Indigenous Traditional Earth Knowledge. Currently Norma is the program coordinator for the department of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Instruction in Tucson Unified School District.  

JOSE GONZALEZ, M.A.

José Gonzalez is in his twenty-sixth year of teaching and currently works for Tucson Unified School District teaching the Culturally Relevant (CR) American History: Mexican American Perspective and CR American Government Social Justice Perspectives classes at Tucson High Magnet School. As a practitioner and a student advocate, José anchors his instruction by implementing a Xicanx Critical Race Theory, simultaneously interweaving a humanizing pedagogy, which at its core is grounded in an indigenous epistemology.  He operationalizes this indigenous epistemology to foster and facilitate within his student’s a strong sense of identity (ancestral and academic) and student's voice while infusing a self-discipline approach to life.  José received his bachelor’s from Emporia State University; a master’s from Northern Arizona University and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Arizona.

CURTIS ACOSTA, Ph.D.

Curtis Acosta has been a public high school teacher in Tucson for nearly 20 years where he developed and taught Chican@/Latin@ Literature classes for the renowned Mexican American Studies program in Tucson - the largest public school ethnic studies program in the nation before being dismantled in January of 2012. MAS classes were centered on student empowerment and agency through critical pedagogy, as well as culturally responsive and socially relevant curriculum.

 

Curtis is an award-winning educator that has been featured in the documentary Precious Knowledge, The Daily Show with John Stewart, and his classes were subject of multiple profiles by CNN, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times amongst many other media outlets. Curtis received his Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and later obtained a Master’s of Arts degree and Ph.D. in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Language, Cultural, and Education at the University of Arizona South.