Wednesday, October 26, 2022
  Community, Around Campus

By News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV’s Center for Bilingual Studies (CBS), in collaboration with RGV Parents United for Excellent Dual Education (RGV PUEDE), on Oct. 21 held the fourth annual parent conference, “El bilingüismo como identidad.”

The one-day conference was conducted in Spanish and offered a space where parents and district leaders could support each other and network.

Of the 100 participants, about 40 were bilingual directors and other leaders from 12 Rio Grande Valley school districts and charters that offer Dual Language Education. Dual Language Education is a model of bilingual education that fosters bilingualism, biculturalism and biliteracy (B3), enhanced awareness of cultural diversity, and the highest levels of academic achievement in both English and Spanish from Pre-K to 12th grade.

The other 60 participants included parents from school districts and charters: PSJA, La Joya, McAllen, Rio Grande City Grulla, Mission, Donna, San Benito, Los Fresnos, Edcouch-Elsa, Weslaco, Vanguard Academy and Brillante Academy.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, participants gathered in the UTRGV Ballroom on the Edinburg Campus. The conference spotlighted PSJA, because the district has the longest-running Dual Language Education program in the Valley, offers Dual Language at every campus (PK-12), and has an official school board policy that supports the program.

Speakers included Dual Language Coordinator Rosalva Silva, who was part of the team that launched the program in 1998. She spoke about how dual language education took root thanks to the support of the community and parent advocacy. Olivia Martinez (Dual Language director) explained how the program provides a B3 education that honors and develops student identities, cultures, roots and values.

Parent-speakers included Dr. Stephanie Alvarez, director of UTRGV’s Center for Mexican American Studies; and Oliva Ortega, Virginia Santana and Eva Carranza, all members of ARISE Adelante, who gave testimonios about watching their children grow bilingual, bicultural and biliterate through dual language and organizing other community members to advocate for the program.

Other speakers included Dr. Joy Esquierdo, UTRGV professor of Bilingual & Literacy Studies and director of CBS; Dr. Mariana Alessandri, UTRGV associate professor of Philosophy and cofounder of RGV PUEDE; Dr. Alex Stehn, UTRGV professor of Philosophy, associate director of CBS, and cofounder of RGV PUEDE; and Karina Chapa, director of Language Proficiency, Biliteracy and Cultural Diversity at Region One ESC.

Participants developed collaborative plans to strengthen and extend dual language programs from Pre-K to 12 across the Valley.



CBS is an interdisciplinary research center that brings together faculty from colleges across the university to collaborate on research and other learning initiatives that advocate for bilingual families and engage communities across the region. School districts and principals interested in knowing more about the center can contact CBS Program Manager Samantha Lopez at, or visit the CBS website.



RGV PUEDE’s mission is to educate and organize parents, families, and communities to support, improve and extend dual language bilingual education programs from Pre-K to 12th across the Valley. Anyone interested in RGV PUEDE should contact Alex Stehn at, or visit the website at


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.