Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Dr. Patsy Robles-Goodwin
Woven baskets, small figurines and a picture of smiling students on Machu Picchu cover the walls and bookshelves of Dr. Patsy Robles-Goodwin's office. The trinkets displayed not only showcase all the places she’s traveled, but also mirror her warm and inviting personality. Walking into her office is like walking into your best friend's house — you feel right at home.
Dr. Robles-Goodwin is a professor of education who focuses on empowering bilingual education students not only at Texas Wesleyan University, but throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth community. She’s the kind of professor that goes beyond the walls of the classroom – both figuratively and literally.
Robles-Goodwin has applied grant money towards building the Parent Academies, which educates parents of underrepresented communities in Fort Worth, Everman, Burleson, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw, Mansfield and White Settlement ISDs. Her goal? To teach parents that come from different backgrounds, educations and speak different languages that they can be a big part of educating future generations – starting with their own students.
The schools also get to choose their programming, like providing English as a second language courses for parents, mental health support or physical education classes.
"This is an effort to bring parents of underrepresented groups, such as Latinos, to really invite them to come to the school and to learn about how best to support their students because many of them just don’t understand the culture of them volunteering,” Robles-Goodwin said. “[There] is invaluable mentoring in bringing in parents, having them see schools in a different light. I'm really proud of our Parent Academics because I feel the parents that have been involved have really gained a lot but so have the schools."
And this is a concept she teaches in her own classroom, too. She tells her students about the hardships many minority communities face when sending their students to school — like language barriers and having limited access to resources.
She also educates her students on the law and history of American education, so they can learn to break down barriers and provide the best help to their own students and families.
"I don’t think students really understand the history of education in terms of how it impacted minorities, especially Latino students, and the struggles that educators and school districts went through to get the quality education we have today,” she said. “I want to make sure they understand the history because we talk about how if you don’t know your history, you’re apt to repeat it. And if they’re going to be not only educators, but advocates, they have to know the history and the laws."
Robles-Goodwin also wants her students to understand the different cultures behind the Hispanic and Latino communities, so they can better relate to their students.
She’s traveled with her students to several Latin countries, including Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Spain. It helps teach students that just because the countries may share a similar language, each one has a rich and unique culture.
“The best way to learn about diversity is to travel,” she said. “You meet different people, and even if they speak your language, the cultures are different. By traveling, it just amplifies your thinking, and it confronts some of your stereotypes and biases because you’re interacting with real people.”
Her inspiration to help her students' become agents of change in the community is sparked by her own educational experiences. She first thought she’d be a secretary — but with support and mentoring through a high school teacher and college professors, she ended up going to college and getting her degrees. And it’s something she wants to pass on to her students.
“I'm really big about mentoring,” she said. “I worked with professors, and I got mentored by faculty while I was an undergraduate. And when I graduated, I thought, I need to do this for other students because if those people had not invested in me, I wouldn’t be here.”
One of her favorite things about working at Texas Wesleyan is the opportunity to help mentor students one-on-one and provide a more personal service.
Dr. Robles-Goodwin is a great example of what makes Texas Wesleyan Smaller. Smarter. — she puts her students and community first. And you can see that simply by just walking into her office.