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Fort Worth Library to Recognize FWISD Bilingual Education Program and Founding Educator

The Fort Worth Public Library is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting the 50th anniversary of Fort Worth ISD’s Bilingual Education Program and celebrating one of the program’s founding teachers, Dr. Rudy Rodriguez Sr. rudyrodriguez

The Fort Worth Modern Pioneer: Chicano Trailblazer event is being hosted from 6-8 p.m. today at the Fort Worth Central Library, 500 W. Third St. 

A performance by North Side High School's Mariachi Espuelas will open the event, followed by a panel discussion featuring past and present Fort Worth bilingual educators. The discussion is being moderated by local author Richard Gonzalez. A reception, featuring a performance by Ballet Folklorico, will follow the program. 

The Hispanic Heritage History Project will present Dr. Rodriguez with the Chicano Trailblazer award, which was co-founded by Jodi Valenciano and Rosalinda Martinez and co-sponsored by the Fort Worth Public Library. 

Dr. Rudy Rodriguez is an extraordinary leader who has committed his life’s work to education and equality.

In 1969, he helped create Fort Worth ISD’s first Bilingual Education Program in eight schools. Dr. Rodriguez remembers fondly that commitment put forth by his colleagues in those critical start-up years to design and build a program from scratch with no previous clear identity or defined curriculum.

FWISD’s first bilingual educators gave their energy, professional talent and unfailing commitment to make the impossible, possible. They focused on creating a well-organized, credible, culturally empowering learning experience for FWISD’s language-minority children. Bilingual teachers emphasized culturally relevant experiences for Mexican American students, such as the use of use of the children’s dominant language in instruction and dances common to different Mexican regions, while also encouraging cafeterias add traditional Mexican dishes to the lunch menus. 

Dr. Rodriguez served the children of the Fort Worth ISD from 1969-73 and continued working with the District for decades during his tenure as a professor at Texas Women’s University and the University of North Texas. His collaboration with the Fort Worth bilingual educator community made a perpetual mark on FWISD.

His values and world outlook were largely shaped by the Civil and Chicano Rights Movements of the 1960s. As a young educator, he was a target of bigotry and racism in public schools and throughout college. He aspired to make a difference in the lives of other minorities experiencing similar oppression. 

-FWISD- 

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