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Looking for Latinx in Social Studies: Santiago Honored for Research, Mentorship

Looking for Latinx in social studies: Santiago honored for research, mentorship

Maribel Santiago, assistant professor of teacher education, has been honored with two awards that acknowledge her career, research, and leadership.

In May 2019, Santiago was awarded a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, which will support her continued study on teaching the history and culture of Latinx* communities. She is part of a cohort of 30 early career scholars who are working in “critical areas of education research.” Santiago’s one-year term begins in September 2019.

“I’m very humbled,” Santiago said. “I think [receiving the honor] speaks to the importance and the need to do the type of research I am focusing on. The field understands the importance of teaching Latinx history in school.”

The NAEd/Spencer Fellowship comes with a $70,000 stipend, which Santiago will use to fund a national comparative study of 12 teachers in four school districts. Specifically, the stipend will allow Santiago to travel to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Orange County, Fla. to analyze how educators integrate Latinx social studies topics into the classroom.

The research began in 2018 and is the first large-scale comparative study on Latinx social studies with an aim to inform practice at a national level. Santiago hopes to uncover the nuances of teaching about Latinx history, examining what is and isn’t taught. It’s important, she says, because including these narratives can help validate racial, ethnic and cultural identities of Latinx youth, and expand understanding of the differences across Latinx experiences and communities.

“Latinx communities are the largest ethnic minoritized group in the country. But there is little research on how we teach their histories,” Santiago said.

Outstanding Mentorship

Santiago was also recognized by the MSU Graduate School for her work as a mentor to students and with organizations. She received the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award in May.

“Mentorship is the way that we diversify the pipeline,” Santiago said. “It is a way we can bring in more faculty to do more of this research on the teaching and learning of racial and ethnic history so that we can learn more. It’s a huge part of academia—teaching future faculty members who will go on to teach their own students.”

She leads History TALLER (pronounced tah-yer) at MSU, a professional development group comprised of scholars with related interests. The group explores Teaching And Learning of Language, Ethnicity, and Race (TALLER—also Spanish for “workshop”), and allows opportunities for the scholars to workshop, develop and edit their research in its early phases.

“She actively mentors a diverse group of graduate students, and mentors all students about sensitive issues pertaining to race, diversity, and inclusion,” said a congratulatory letter from Thomas D. Jeitschko, dean of the Graduate School and associate provost for graduate education. “This is a challenging task that, by all accounts, she engages in with great poise. She seems to go ‘above-and-beyond the call of duty’ in her commitment to mentoring.”

As part of the award, Santiago was presented with $1,500 to continue support of her mentoring activities.

Santiago will join the College of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle as an assistant professor of justice and education in January 2020.

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