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La Familia and Other Secret Ingredients to Latinx Student Success

Jennifer M. Matos

Almost like a well-kept family recipe, there exists in education secret ingredients into what makes Latinx students successful. La Familia and Other Secret Ingredients to Latinx Student Success demonstrates how Latinx parents, a well-kept secret ingredient, assist with the academic success of Latinx students at all educational levels. Understanding the power of this secret ingredient—and how to use it—can have a profound impact on success for Latinxs students and can be used as a model for how to work with and support students from all marginalized groups. La Familia and Other Secret Ingredients to Latinx Student Success is suitable for educators at all levels. This book can be used in general education and teacher preparation courses, ethnic studies courses, training for individuals in helping professions, or to launch exciting new dialogue.

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Chapter 1. Introduction

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Introduction

My educational trajectory started, as many of life’s beginnings do, with a Mother. In this case, my life-long career in education started with my Mother. A native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Mom wasn’t able to complete her education when she came to the mainland United States in the 1950’s. The story of my family is the typical immigrant story with the exception that legally, Puerto Ricans are also United States citizens. However, when a Puerto Rican moves to the mainland U.S., it’s not the same as when someone on the mainland moves from Pennsylvania to Florida. Having the greatest grasp of the English language, my ten-year-old Mother had to accompany my grandmother from apartment building to apartment building in search of affordable housing for four people. As my Mom was the one doing the translating, she was also the one bearing the brunt of racist epithets that potential landlords lobbed at her as they slammed the door in her face. She learned quickly that she and her family weren’t ever to receive a warm welcome in this country and as she fumed, my grandmother urged her to calm down, not understanding what her young daughter was learning. While she completed a GED, she always seemed to live vicariously through my education. When I was a small child, she would say “Jennifer, you’re going to go to school until you have gray hair!” I remember thinking I would be very old by the time I...

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