Carlos Azcoitia, Ed.D. recently traded his NLU classroom for one at the University of Cantabria in Santander, Spain.
Officials there invited him to teach a two-day seminar on educational leadership to students who aspire to be teacher leaders or principals. They are pursuing their master’s degrees in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on social and emotional intelligence, in partnership with the Botin Foundation.
So how did a university in Spain happen to seek out an NLU professor in Chicago? Azcoitia had earned a reputation in U.S. education circles, particularly the community schools movement, when he served as principal of a community school in Chicago. It heavily involved parents and community members in its activities, and set high standards for students’ academic achievements. Azcoitia, who embraced school reform, also served as Deputy Chief of Education for the Chicago Public Schools, and later as a CPS board member.
Among the many educators he met and worked with in his career were those from the Center for Academic, Social and Emotional Intelligence (CASEL) in Chicago. CASEL provided the link between Chicago and Spain, suggesting to the University of Cantabria that Azcoitia’s credentials qualified him well to speak to Educational Leadership students.
And so, at the invitation of the university’s department chair and the foundation, Azcoitia last month taught “Leadership Practices for Effective Instruction” and “Success Factors for Effective Leaders” using the framework of social and emotional intelligence. Interestingly, even though Azcoitia speaks Spanish, he was asked to speak in English so students would be able to learn leadership terms in English.
After the seminar, Azcoitia stayed a few more days on my own in Spain, visiting the Basque country where his grandparents were born. Later, they emigrated to Cuba, Azcoitia’s own birthplace.
“The value of cultural identity, which we all have, shaped by backgrounds, roots and cultural experiences frames the way we see the world and how others perceive us,” he said. “It is never neutral. From our cultural identity we form our academic identity which is critical to our success as students and human beings.”
“The value of diversity is to develop an understanding and appreciation for the human potential of all persons and backgrounds based on ideals of freedom, equity, justice, prejudice reduction and equity pedagogy.”
The Botin Foundation, a partner of the University of Cantabria, asked Azcoitia to write an essay for its publication about how schools can develop community partnerships. Here is the essay, written in Spanish.