EDINBURG, Texas – Francisco Guajardo, CEO of the Museum of South Texas History, says there is plenty of data to show that working families do not have enough exposure to museums.

“Not only our museum, but with museums across the board, families, especially working families, working-class families, just do not have enough exposure to the museum,” Guajardo told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

“I don’t think it’s an issue of access because the museum is very accessible. But it’s more an issue of awareness, of awareness of what that place is, an awareness of how that plays can enhance your life.”

The Guardian interviewed Guajardo (pictured above) at an open day at the museum, held by Vanguard Academy for the families of its students. The museum was packed with students and parents. In the interview, Guajardo said both Vanguard and Edinburg CISD are utilizing the museum’s assets in an excellent way. 

Francisco Guajardo

And, he said, his museum can comfortably ramp up capacity to partner with any and all other school districts in the region.

“What Vanguard (through the) GEAR UP (program) is saying is… we want to nurture the cultural being. The student who is culturally competent, the student who has a sense of identity, the student who is culturally-minded,” Guajardo said.

“And so we were able to convince Vanguard that one very strategic way of reaching that goal was by bringing the families to the museum.”

Regarding Vanguard, Guajardo added: “Our argument is that this place, the museum, can actually help your kid become more college-ready.”

As for Edinburg CISD, Guajardo said it is utilizing the Museum of South Texas History in a very different way.

“Edinburg CISD is very close partner with the museum. For example, we have a an eight-part workshop series with the Edinburg CISD on letter writing by using the letters of Freddy Gonzalez, that he sent to his mother from Vietnam during his two tours of duty between 1965 and 1968,” Guajardo explained.

Sergeant Alfredo “Freddy” Gonzalez is one of Edinburg’s most famous sons, having posthumously won a Congressional Medal of Honor for his gallantry and heroism in Vietnam.

“A letter dated January 24, 1968. Freddy says Mother. Tone. Salutation. Mother. He doesn’t say, Hi, Mom, as he did in other letters. ‘Mother, I was shocked to hear that Victor got killed. But it’s things like this that happen in a war.’ Tone. 

“There’s so much to learn from Freddy’s letters, that teachers can develop skills or perhaps sharpen skills so that as they teach their students how to become letter writers, which is a lost art in many ways, Steve, as you know, and then being forced to read incursive, as Freddy wrote incursive to his mother.”

Guajardo added: “And so the point here is that Edinburg has been a very willing participant in using the archives of the Museum to enhance their teaching and learning process. We can do that with just about any school district because we have letters written by a soldier in 1846; we have such a treasure trove of historical gifts in this history museum, that I think there’s ample opportunity for any school district really to participate in one way or another. 

“Vanguard happens to participate in this by hosting a family day. It’s a beautiful idea. Edinburg participates by using the letters of Freddy Gonzalez to build deeper skills around literacy, literature, letter writing, language arts. That’s a beautiful thing. We can do any number of things.”


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