Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Singing Principal Of The Alamo

By Nathalie Nance
For the Mountain Mail

Before you have even had a chance to get a glimpse of the man, you will probably have heard him sing, because Dr. James Garcia, the new principal of the Alamo Navajo School, is not shy to let his baritone be heard, be it in the church choir in Socorro, in the corridor at work or on the phone with a reporter. Just like in a musical, as soon as he talks about something which reminds him of a song - off he goes.
Ever since Garcia was raised by his likewise musical mother in the little, but multicultural (the neighbor was Italian, the store keeper Polish etc), coal mining town of Trinidad, Colorado, music, languages and a curiosity for different cultures have played an essential part in his life.
“If you learn the language, you learn the heart of a culture” says Garcia, and adds that he sees himself just as much as a learner as a teacher. Consequently, as soon as he started working at the Alamo in early November, Garcia also started taking classes in Diné.
“It is very musical and a beautiful language.” says Garcia enthusiastically.
His academic achievements include a doctor’s degree in Administration and he is a senior professor of English. He is a Master Teacher from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in English, social studies, modern classical languages and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). During his career he has worked with students from all over the world, but he spent many years teaching in Pecos, Española and Gallina, and he considers himself a native of the Hispanic culture of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Even so, he thinks that the Navajo and the Hispanic cultures are very closely intertwined. Besides academic leadership for the Alamo, Garcia would like to promote cultural awareness.
“I want all our kids to learn to read, to do mathematics and to learn about the world”, says Garcia, “but also to maintain their Diné self and be proud of it.”

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