DALLAS — People across North Texas are taking time to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
In addition to special events happening in Dallas Independent School District from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, some teachers and students are dedicating the entire school year to Mexican American Studies.
“What is heritage,” teacher Luis Macias asked his students at Trini Garza Early College High School.
“I think heritage is basically your culture, your tradition,” student Blanca Juarez responded.
Macias is among instructors guiding students through the Mexican American studies course this year. The class is being offered virtually, in light of COVID-19.
“Mexican American history is American history,” Macias told his students. ”A lot of this is culture that they are familiar with, but they don’t necessarily understand how it is that we got here.”
The elective course explores the complexities of the Mexican American experience. It allows students to dive into topics about life, language, arts, culture, politics, and much more.
”I wanted to learn more about my culture, because I learned all of these things about U.S. history, and no one’s ever taught me about my own culture,” said student Maureen Morales.
This is the second year Dallas ISD is offering the course.
The District’s Director of Social Studies, Shalon Bond, said the course is picking up momentum. The Mexican American studies class has grown from being offered across 23 campuses last year to 33 schools this year.
”The energy around the course really gives students the excitement needed to continue learning, even outside of that course in other courses. Because they have a better understanding of who they are and their voice and why it matters,” Bond explained.
The student population in Dallas ISD is 70% Hispanic. However, instructors say all students are encouraged to take Mexican American studies, no matter their ethnicity or background.
”Taking these classes makes you well-rounded. Ready for society. Because knowledge is power,” student Nelson Mancia said.
The teacher believes the course is allowing students to become more engaged in exploring the course work, themselves, and the dynamics of other communities.
To learn more about Dallas ISD’s Mexican American studies and African American studies courses, you can visit the district's website.