Las Vegas, N.M – María Villarreal Haase said it’s a dream come true to be teaching bilingual education and Spanish at New Mexico Highlands University.
Villarreal Haase, a veteran college bilingual education professor who started her career as an educator teaching kindergarten through high school Spanish and bilingual education, joined the Highlands faculty spring semester 2019.
“Bilingual education opens so many doors,” Villarreal Haase said. “It’s not just about teaching a language, it’s about teaching content, cultures, and developing a better global understanding of people in the world. The beauty of being an American is that in this country one can adopt elements of other cultures that one likes and make that part of who one is, from cuisine to décor to dress.”
Villarreal Haase said for her, teaching both Spanish and bilingual education is a big plus because they’re both so closely interconnected, particularly in New Mexico.
“My goal is to be a positive role model for pre-service and in-service teachers, particularly those in the bilingual education track. I absolutely love my profession and the Spanish language. Spanish is so beautiful, melodious and expressive. I always share this with my students,” said Villarreal Haase, whose earliest memories involve speaking both Spanish and English.
She said she is excited to be teaching Basic Spanish for the Bilingual Classroom, Theories and Principles of Bilingual Education, Teaching English as a Second Language, and Beginning Spanish I at Highlands.
“Dr. Haase brings a wealth of experience in bilingual education, and a deep commitment to diversity and the preparation of culturally competent and responsive teachers who are able to support the success of all students,” said Virginia Padilla-Vigil, Highlands School of Education dean. “Her passion, commitment and enthusiasm for bilingual teacher preparation is invigorating.”
Most recently, she was an adjunct faculty member at Eastern New Mexico University teaching Spanish. Prior to that, Villarreal Haase was adjunct faculty at Texas A & M University-Kingsville teaching courses in bilingual education and Spanish. She also taught on the faculty at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Villarreal Haase earned her doctorate degree in bilingual education from Texas A & M University – Kingsville and her master’s degree in secondary education from Eastern New Mexico University.
“Before teaching at the college level, I first taught in Tucumcari and I’m happy to be back in rural New Mexico. I’ve been on the inside of many K-12 classrooms and can share the experience and knowledge I gained with my Highlands University students. We teachers need to be ready from day one to address the needs of students academically and culturally. Compassion is an important component of being a good teacher,” Villarreal Haase said.
She also taught Spanish and bilingual education in schools in Texas and Nevada.
Villarreal Haase is a leader in bilingual education organizations. She served as president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary for A Doctoral Organization for Bilingual Education (ADOBE). She is also an active member of the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Language and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, among other organizations.
She received Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship in 2003.
Villarreal Haase, who was born and raised in Rio Grande City in South Texas, said she traces her passion for teaching back to third grade.
“When I was eight for my birthday, I asked my father for a chalkboard, a box of chalk, and erasers so I could play school with neighborhood children. This was the highlight of my summers when I was a child,” Villarreal Haase said.