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    la MAESTRA
A professional development opportunity for teachers working with Latino students

"Travel breaks down a kind of inner structure we have. Stripped of our props, deprived of our masks, we are completely on the surface of ourselves." --Albert Camus

The next scheduled La Maestra program will be offered in Alajuela, Costa Rica for three weeks in the Summer of 2012. Please contact Erin with any questions at 663-2249 or

The participant cost for three weeks of Spanish classes daily, homestay, activities, and 1 professional development credit is: $2675.  Flight and additional credit costs are additional.

Here is a link to a Powerpoint presentation from a former Alajuela, Costa Rica participant's experience.

Download an application here.

Download a 2012 flier here.

Program Summary
Program Components
Program Dates and Cost
Credit Options
Background on AmeriSpan
Comments from 2007 Participants
Contact Information

Links to Resources


Contact Erin at to register or for more information

Program Summary:                                                              
Participants in the MAESTRA program will have the opportunity to travel to Alajuela, Costa Rica for three weeks to learn about the culture and people, the education system, and the nuances of Mexican Spanish in order to facilitate effective communication in the classroom. This 1, 3, or 6 credit graduate level program offers a unique opportunity to learn about teacher-student and parent-teacher relationships in Latin America all in the context of learning Spanish. 
The program includes an orientation session and a follow up session at Edgewood College and is open to teachers in Wisconsin School Districts. This professional development opportunity can be included in a teachers' development plan or applied to a Masters Degree at Edgewood College. It addresses standards 3,5, 6, 9, and 10 of the Wisconsin Teacher Standards.

1. To increase personal understanding of Costa Rica and the education system in Latin America through a first-hand travel experience.
2. To examine the differences/similarities in the culture and education system of Latin America through classroom observations and interactions with teachers.
3. To improve Spanish speaking, reading and writing skills through immersion.
4. To recognize the challenges that face students from Latin America in the classroom due to differences in their homeland experience.
5. To integrate global understanding and awareness in the Wisconsin classroom and school at large.

Program Components:                                                          
    Pre-departure highlights:
•  Pre-departure themed orientation on Costa Rica, classroom differences, and cultural awareness. Credit registration will take place at this time.
•  Pre-departure logistics dinner with a discussion on culture-shock, cross-cultural sensitivity, what to pack, safety and security, finances.

    International experience highlights:
•  Spanish Classes: 50 hours of intensive Spanish instruction at your proficiency level.
•  Classroom Observations: Teachers will visit a variety of schools, observe classrooms, and talk with teachers and administrators.
•  Workshops and Lectures: A variety of workshops and lectures that will cover the Mexican educational system, relationships among teachers, parents and students, fossilization of errors, culture and curriculum in Mexico, and the effect of immigration on students.
•  Intercambio: work one to one with a native Spanish speaker on improving his/her English while you improve your Spanish.
•  Cultural visits: visits to local cultural points of interest
•  Excursions: 2 excursions to colonial cities and indigenous villages.
•  Homestay: lodging is with local Costa Rican families (private room/full board).
•  A reflective journal (with excerpts to be published in the TESOL program newsletter).

    Post-international experience highlights:
•  Weekend follow-up session (presentation of credit projects, journal discussion, and ways to use new knowledge in the classroom.)

Program Dates and Cost:  
The international component of the program dates will tentatively be: June 16 - July 7, 2012. Additional weeks at added costs are optional.

A pre and post-departure orientation will also take place, with dates TBA.

The current estimated cost is approximately $2675, which includes three weeks of room and board (2 meals a day), Spanish classes, excursions, activities, and one graduate credit. 

This price does not include airfare or additional credit cost.

Mail your application to:
ESL/Bilingual Education
Erin Teksten
1000 Edgewood College Dr.
Madison, WI  53711

Or, drop it off in DeRicci 109, or fax it to 608-663-6902.

Credit options:                                                                     
Additional credits are $200/each.  Participants have the option of enrolling in the 1, 3, or 6 credit options.
Discussion of these requirements and credit registration will take place at the pre-departure orientation session in April.

Background on AmeriSpan:                                                  
AmeriSpan specializes in language immersion programs, academic study abroad, volunteer/internship placements and other educational travel experiences. Since starting in 1993, AmeriSpan has grown tremendously sending more than 22,000 people abroad.

Comments from 2007 Participants:

"My family was wonderful. I kept telling them that I felt like they really were 'family'. My mom was about my age and her children were similar ages. It felt like I was staying with a cousin or a best friend. We really shared family stories and were able to compare family life with each other."

"I loved going to the rural school, La Colonia. All the school staff were informative and warm."

"I learned a tremendous amount from both of our excursions, as well as our city tour, about Mexican history - and they also provided me with a lot of food for thought about how to teach students in a more meaningful, hands-on way, about history and culture in general."

"I had a fabulous time and didn't want to come home!"

For more information on this program please contact:                     

Erin Teksten

Sheila Hopkins


In order to familiarize yourself with Mexico, language study, and traveling abroad, we have provided you with links to some informative books, articles and websites. The more time you dedicate to preparing yourself for this experience, the more you will be able to gain from the program itself.

Mexican history, culture and education:
Crossing Over by Ruben Martinez
Novels by Luis Alberto Urrea
The Latino Reader: An American Literary Tradition from 1542 to the Present
Harold Augenbraum (Editor), Margarite Fernández Olmos (Editor)
La Frontera / Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua and Sonia Saldivar-Hull
Barefoot Heart by Elva Trevino Hart
Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants by Jorge Castañeda

Education in Mexico (Wikipedia)
Preventing Violence and Lowering dropout rate in Mexico City Schools by Malcolm Linton
The Sights, Sounds, and People of Morelia, Mexico by David B. Wix
Living Like a Native in Morelia, Mexico by David Wix
Fond Memories and a Common Sense Approach by David Wix
Life in Limbo: Crossing the U.S.-Mexican Border
by Malia Politzer
Latino Youth: Immigration, Education and the Future
by Pedro A. Noguera
And What Will Become of Children Like Miguel Fernandez?
by Pedro A Noguera
Keeping La Llorona Alive in the Shadow of Cortes: What an Examination of Literacy in Two Mexican Schools Can Teach U.S. Educators
by Anne-Marie Hall

Pew Hispanic Center: Research on Latino experiences in a Changing America
Mexico Daily (newspaper)

    Spanish Language
Spanish tutorials to get you up to speed
Learn some phrases before you go!

The Four Secrets to Long Term Retention

    Traveling Abroad
Getting a Passport
Health and Safety in Mexico

Currency exchange
Weather Reports