UTEP Educator Inspires Children at Groundbreaking
Published May 14, 2019
By Daniel E. Perez
The University of Texas at El Paso’s Josefina V. “Josie” Tinajero, Ed.D., shared words of wisdom and gratitude before turning over a shovel full of dirt on May 10, 2019, at Henderson Middle School, 5505 Robert Alva Ave., at a ceremonial groundbreaking for a school that would bear her name.
Tinajero, a professor of bilingual education and longtime UTEP administrator, told the crowd of about 250, which included family members, friends and colleagues, that she had many goals growing up, but she never dreamed that she would have a school named after her.
She spent much of her speech thanking those who had made her life happy and successful, but she also made a point to address the many schoolchildren in attendance from Henderson and nearby Clardy Elementary School, 5508 Delta Drive.
Tinajero, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, was one of nine children. Her family moved to El Paso and lived in government housing. She did not know how to speak English when she started school and has dedicated her professional career to enhancing educational opportunities for English Language Learners. The educator tried to inspire those children in the audience whose lives might mirror what hers used to be. Her message was “Dream it! Believe it! Achieve it!”
“You can make it,” the alumnus of Clardy and Henderson said behind a lectern that was between two columns of white and orange balloons. She also attended Burleson Elementary School and Jefferson High School before graduating from Father Yermo High School. “You can be successful in life.”
The El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees announced in May 2018 that it would name its new consolidated South-Central campus the Dr. Josefina Villamil Tinajero PK-8 School. Funds for the project, budgeted at more than $39 million, come from the district’s 2016 bond issue. The additions include a library, middle school classrooms, a fine arts room, administrative offices and a middle school gym. There also will be upgrades to existing buildings and infrastructure. Construction should start this spring. The new campus should open in fall 2021.
Tinajero, who was dean of UTEP’s College of Education from 2004 to 2013, is an award-winning educator and expert in the field of bilingual education and issues of cultural equity. She is a co-founder and director of the nationally recognized Mother-Daughter/Father-Son Program, which has benefitted Hispanic middle school students and their parents since 1986.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education and supervision and administration, respectively, from UTEP and her doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in bilingual education from Texas A&M University – Kingsville.
“I thank God,” Tinajero said after the ceremony about having a school named after her. “This is a blessing. I just wanted to be a teacher.”