Manuel Martinez

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Second grade dual language teacher at Houston Elementary School, Austin, Texas


Proyecto Maestría BBE Master’s Graduate, 2013


My time at UT Austin was one of the most amazing and compelling times in my life and teaching experience. I was able to build strong relationships with my professors, who to this day are still my friends and mentors.  I am grateful for their mentorship, leadership, and ideas. Dr. Luis Urrieta’s approach to culture and its integration as part of the classroom has influenced me tremendously. Dr. Deborah Palmer’s approach to dual language and leadership as well as Dr. Haydée Rodriguez’s approach to learning a second language has also influenced me. In addition to these incredible professors, I would like to mention that the impact of Dr. María Franquiz’ approach to biliteracy has left a seal on my teaching experience.  Thanks to their ideas and practices I have been able to transform my teaching and myself.

Why UT?

Because UT has been ranked as one the top universities in the US as well as worldwide, it can be difficult to gain admission to graduate programs. However, The Bilingual/Bicultural Education Program made it possible for me and for many students to gain admission to UT because besides test scores and GPA, the faculty who handled admissions took into consideration other factors, considering each candidate as a whole.  I wasn’t sure I would be successful in graduate school, but the professors’ dedication and support and the support of my cohort classmates helped ensure my success.

Life After UT

My education at UT in the Proyecto Maestría cohort master’s degree program helped me to understand how becoming bicultural, biliterate, and bilingual are essential in my students’ educational process. Thus, integrating students’ language, culture, and life experiences into the classroom curriculum has become a common practice in my daily teaching. I believe that a culturally relevant curriculum and integrating parents into the classroom, contributes to enhancing my students’ biliteracy and biculturalism.

My success in integrating students’ life experiences into the classroom curriculum can be attributed to my education at UT Austin. My professors at UT instilled in me the importance of integrating such experiences as well as their parents’ experiences in the classroom. I have been able to present successes made by students as a consequence of this approach at my school’s meetings and Professional Learning Communities as well as at several professional and academic conferences such as NABE, TABE, Adelante, and LRA. My education at UT has made possible for me to experience the words of Francis Bacon: “knowledge is power”.

Advice for students

My advice for students who are thinking about seeking a Master’s degree at UT, is to encourage yourself to accomplish your degree. Since most classes are scheduled in the afternoon, it is possible to incorporate your education to your daily life even if you are a full time teacher. You will be grateful that you made the wise decision to push yourself – it is such a tremendous growing opportunity that will benefit you as well as your students.