Posted on June 1, 2021 by Christopher Reichert


While summer is traditionally a time for students to relax, for many teachers it’s a time to head back to school themselves. One such opportunity is the Mexican American Studies Teacher’s Academy, which will run virtually this summer from June 21 to 25.  

According to co-director Gloria Gonzáles, Ph.D., the Academy was founded in 2014 in response to the state board of education’s approval of a special topics course in ethnic studies.  

“It was mainly to prepare the teachers,” Gonzáles said. “We’d been fighting for this legislation and now what? … It was the next step that needed to be taken.”  

With the proliferation of Mexican American Studies since 2014, the Academy has seen its share of growth as well.  

“When I look at the academy, I see it as always growing with the movement for ethnic studies in the state,” said Academy co-director Liliana Saldaña, Ph.D.  

Indeed, just in San Antonio, the number of MAS teachers has increased from four to over twenty, Saldaña says.   

2021 will mark the eighth year of the Academy, and its second being virtual. While Gonzáles says they had planned to cancel in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, popular demand from San Antonio schools prompted them to transition to a virtual platform. While this transition presented a variety of new organizational challenges, an unintended side effect was a marked increase in participation.  

“In the past, we started really small,” Saldaña said. “the academy went from three or four and then last year to sixty teachers from across the state.”  

The virtual format has attracted participants from all over the country who might not otherwise have traveled to an in-person event.  

“For teachers from California and…from New Hampshire and Massachusetts to come and be interested in our academy, I think speaks for the work that we’ve been doing,” Gonzáles said. 

“For teachers from California and…from New Hampshire and Massachusetts to come and be interested in our academy, I think speaks for the work that we’ve been doing,” Gonzáles said.  

Although the MAS Teacher’s Academy generally attracts current and future MAS teachers, the directors encourage participants from other fields to attend.  

“It’s also open to K-12 teachers who teach math, who might teach language arts,” Saldaña said, “because we believe that MAS should be embedded in all subject areas, all content areas, and across all grade-levels and program models.”  

Beyond teachers, Gonzáles says that the Academy also offers a chance for school administrators to explore MAS content before bringing it into their schools and educates community members about MAS so they can become better advocates. Previous attendees are also encouraged to return to take advantage of new speakers and content.   

This year’s theme is “Mexican Americans in Texas: Land, Labor, and Political rights,” and those who attend will have the opportunity to hear guest speakers, participate in workshops, and learn how to apply MAS content to the specific subjects they teach. Each day’s virtual session will last from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Gonzáles and Saldaña recognize that 15 hours over one week can only scratch the surface of Mexican American Studies.  

“What we can do in a week is introduce the teachers to the history of Mexican American Studies, the philosophy, and the pedagogy,” Gonzáles said.   

Some of these limitations are inspiring the directors to plan for a future which sees the Academy expand, running longer than a week, and inviting even more speakers to present.   

“I would like to see the academy grow,” Saldaña said. “I would like to see it well-funded so that we can continue to do this work. I would like to see the academy remain rooted in our communities because it is a community-powered academy – it’s very much organized by teachers, by scholars, by community partners and allies in the movement for ethnic studies.”  

In the meantime, one of the keys to making the MAS Teacher’s Academy a sustainable and renewable project in the future is involvement from the San Antonio and UTSA communities in the present. For this reason, and for the benefit of MAS in area schools, Saldaña and Gonzáles strongly encourage all UTSA and other local teacher candidates to attend the MAS Teacher’s Academy.  

“Even if you don’t think you’re going to be an ethnic studies teacher, I think ethnic studies is going to be not only beneficial for our students but to our teachers who will gain access to transformative approaches to teaching and learning,” Saldaña said.  


To learn more about the MAS Teacher’s Academy, visit .   


— Christopher Reichert