Education Prof Merryl Kravitz Wins Award, Will Teach Workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico
New Mexico Highlands University School of Education professor Merryl Kravitz was awarded a Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning award she will use to present a workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico about preserving indigenous language.
Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society.
Kravitz, whose Ph.D. is in sociolinguistics, is an expert in Spanish bilingual education, educational linguistics, and secondary education.
She was named a Fulbright scholar in 2001 and taught English as a foreign language at the Vilnius Pedagogical University, a teachers’ college in Lithuania.
Kravitz will use Spanish to present the intensive weeklong workshop in November to Oaxaca teachers who work in indigenous schools. Spanish is the common language in Oaxaca, a southern state in Mexico where an estimated 16 distinct indigenous languages are spoken.
“My passion is language, and my work focuses on language revitalization and preservation,” Kravitz said. “When a language is lost, whole pieces of the culture are lost.”
Kravitz said that at the end of the workshop, the Oaxaca teachers will have developed materials they can take back and use in their classrooms.
“Another goal is for the teachers to use the training to take leadership roles in preserving indigenous languages in their communities,” Kravitz said.
Since 2005, Kravitz has worked with education professor Loretta Salazar and language professor Sara Harris in the Highlands University Oaxaca Immersion Program, a collaboration with the Instituto Estatal de Educacion Publica de Oaxaca, the equivalent of the NM Department of Education.
The three Highlands University professors have lead four groups of School of Education students and local teachers to the summer study abroad program in Oaxaca, where they honed their Spanish skills for the classroom.
“It’s important for the mission of Highlands that we have education faculty like Dr. Kravitz who are committed to bilingual education and language preservation,” said Michael Anderson, dean of the School of Education. “The Oaxaca program has been instrumental in providing opportunities for our students to explore language in an authentic educational setting.”
During spring semester 2011, Kravitz was awarded a Pino Endowment at Highlands University, which funded her participation in the national Conference on the Endangered Languages and Cultures of Native America.
Kravitz joined the School of Education faculty in 1994, teaching secondary education and language. During her tenure at Highlands, she has coordinated field experience for teachers in training and also coordinated the secondary education program.
Kravitz taught middle school for 14 years in public schools in Albuquerque and Grants, N.M.