WHO IS XITO?
ANITA FERNÁNDEZ, Ph.D
Anita Fernández is the co-founder and Director of XITO and the Chief Diversity Officer at Prescott College. Her teaching, scholarship, activism and organizing have been in the areas of racial justice, decolonizing pedagogies, and Ethnic Studies professional development, which have directly informed her work with XITO, now nationally recognized as a leader in K-20 Ethnic Studies training. Dr. Fernandez’s teaching includes courses across the curriculum yet all are linked with the common theme of a decolonizing pedagogy of love as a means for transformative education and liberation. Infusing her teaching with community responsive fieldwork has given her students the opportunity to work within movements and on the ground, bringing the theoretical aspect of her courses to the practical level. Dr. Fernández is based in Tucson where she oversees Prescott College’s K-20 Changemaker Campus, a social justice and urban environmental education project for a more just and sustainable future. Her publications include work in Equity and Excellence in Education, Journal of Praxis in Multicultural Education, Multicultural Education, Journal of Association of Mexican American Educators, Rethinking Ethnic Studies and “White” Washing American Education: The New Culture Wars in Ethnic Studies.
SEAN ARCE, Ph.D
Sean Arce, co-founder and former director of the nationally renowned and now banned K-12 Mexican American Studies Department in Tucson, Arizona, received the first Myles Horton Award for Teaching People’s History from the Zinn Education Project (ZEP) in 2012. ZEP honored Arce "for his instrumental role in nurturing one of the most significant and successful public school initiatives on the teaching of history in the United States." His work has been highlighted on PBS, Democracy Now and National Public Radio. As an activist urban educator who has worked in public schools for nearly 20 years, Dr. Arce believes that what made his colleagues and himself effective the was the implementation and continuous development of a “Barrio Pedagogy.” Within this innovative and transformative pedagogy, indigenous epistemologies and social justice based frameworks were utilized where students and teachers in collaboration co-constructed an educational experience that fostered an academic identity and the development of a strong cultural identity. Dr. Arce received his Bachelor’s of Arts in Mexican American Studies from the University of Arizona and his Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Arce is currently teaching high school Xicana/o Studies classes in Los Angeles Unified School District which fulfill the University of California "A-G" course requirements.
NORMA MICTLANI GONZALEZ, Ph.D
Dr. Norma “Mictlani” Gonzalez is a critical educator with 27 years of combined experience in teaching and teacher training in Ethnic Studies in public education at the K-12 level. Her approach to education is rooted in implementing decolonizing, asset-based pedagogies that center traditionally marginalized students’ lived experiences and history in curriculum and instruction. Her transformative approach seeks to maximize minoritized student academic achievement by emphasizing students’ sense of belonging, self, hope, and agency. Professionally Dr. Gonzalez is a school administrator with an equity lens toward the elimination of the achievement gap for minoritized students through the implementation of decolonizing and asset-based pedagogies and in developing teacher critical awareness. Dr. Gonzalez has extensive experience in the development of culturally relevant curriculum. She received her doctorate in the department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice, at the University of Arizona wherein her research focus centered in-service teacher professional development focused on race and educational equity for minoritized students. As an educational consultant, Dr. Gonzalez works with school districts around the nation to prepare teachers to teach a diverse student demographic emphasizing decolonizing learning spaces. She is a former K-12 teacher for the renowned Mexican-American/Raza Studies in Tucson-the largest public school ethnic studies program in the nation before it was dismantled in January of 2012.
JOSÉ GONZALEZ, Ph.D
José Gonzalez is in his twenty-sixth year of teaching and currently works for Tucson Unified School District teaching the Culturally Relevant (CR) American History: Mexican American Perspective and CR American Government Social Justice Perspectives classes at Tucson High Magnet School. As a practitioner and a student advocate, José anchors his instruction by implementing a Xicanx Critical Race Theory, simultaneously interweaving a humanizing pedagogy, which at its core is grounded in an indigenous epistemology. He operationalizes this indigenous epistemology to foster and facilitate within his student’s a strong sense of identity (ancestral and academic) and student's voice while infusing a self-discipline approach to life. José received his bachelor’s from Emporia State University; a master’s from Northern Arizona University and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Arizona.
CURTIS ACOSTA, Ph.D
Curtis Acosta has been a public high school teacher in Tucson for nearly 20 years where he developed and taught Chican@/Latin@ Literature classes for the renowned Mexican American Studies program in Tucson - the largest public school ethnic studies program in the nation before being dismantled in January of 2012. MAS classes were centered on student empowerment and agency through critical pedagogy, as well as culturally responsive and socially relevant curriculum.
Curtis is an award-winning educator that has been featured in the documentary Precious Knowledge, The Daily Show with John Stewart, and his classes were subject of multiple profiles by CNN, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times amongst many other media outlets. Curtis received his Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and later obtained a Master’s of Arts degree and Ph.D. in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Language, Cultural, and Education at the University of Arizona South.