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Alumni Q&A: Angeles Lehmann

Angie Lehmann, B.S. ’70 M.Ed. ’71

Angeles “Angie” Lehmann came to TCU in 1968, studying bilingual education at a time when the Bilingual Education Act had just been passed as a result of the efforts of Spanish speakers. The act provided opportunities to implement programs and train teachers to support English language learners. Lehmann earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1970 and her Master of Elementary Education in 1971. Since graduating from TCU she has worked as a teacher, teacher trainer, administrator and now provides professional development for service centers and school districts.

What was it like when you attended TCU?

“When I attended TCU in the late 60s, it was a small college with about 6,000 students. That size was a perfect match for me. It had a warm environment and lots of personal attention from my professors.  I really felt safe and comfortable there. I was excited walking through such a beautiful campus that had ‘state of the art’ facilities, such as the library and science labs. I also loved the small class size! I found the culture of the university to be everything I wanted it to be in promoting my academic development. Three of my professors in the College of Education, Dr. Rouse, Dr. Winters, and Dr. Galvan had a profound impact on me and inspired my love of teaching. I felt they were the kind of professors who cared about me as an individual.”

Why did you want to study elementary, reading and bilingual education at TCU?

“I wanted to study at TCU because as newlyweds my husband and I moved to Fort Worth to start our lives. We had heard that TCU had a national reputation as an academic university. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me living in that city. I had a good GPA and was excited about continuing my education there.

“The three areas of education that I specialized in were influenced by the area of Texas where I had grown up, at the southern border. I saw the great need for helping our students who were recent immigrants and those who were English language learners. I also loved working with children.”

TCU had a strong education program with a lab school for practicums and excellent professors in its College of Education.

I finished my classes early because I went to school year-round and I would take as many as 18 hours of credits each semester. I was happy to take advantage of a graduate assistantship which I was offered at the beginning of my Master’s Program.”

After earning your degrees, how did you career progress?

“I have to say that my career just blossomed! I ended up working 28 years in education, starting as a first grade teacher in the inner-city schools of Fort Worth. I experienced almost all grade levels beginning with elementary up to administration. I was an elementary classroom teacher, then a middle school chapter I reading specialist, then a high school special Education homebound teacher, followed by an elementary curriculum director for a 5-A school district and finally, a teacher trainer (education specialist) working for the Education Service Center, Region 1 and Region 20. As a retired educator now, I have the skills, the experience, the confidence and the knowledge to continue as an independent contractor providing professional development to service centers, as well as independent school districts.”

How has bilingual education changed during your career?

“Bilingual Education evolved in the mid-to-late 60s as part of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Federal legislation was enacted and federal monies were appropriated for the implementation of bilingual education programs. Its inception was moral and ethical; however, perhaps public education was not evolved to the point of accepting it – some districts didn’t want it because there were still segregated schools.

Its early existence was rather turbulent. During the next two decades many programs were expanded throughout the nation and many states, such as, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Louisiana implemented bilingual legislation which was required for students of limited English ability.

During the next thirty years, much changed in bilingual education. We had dual-language programs, total immersion programs and bilingual education was not exclusively for limited English ability students. In affluent neighborhoods, parents demanded bilingual education for their children because they saw the merits of learning more than one language. They saw their children progressing through life with second language skills and the impact that would have in their careers.

In the last three to four years, bilingual education has become synonymous with recent migrant education and is once again caught in the middle as a political football. It is neither funded, nor supported like it was during its inception.”

What advice do you have for aspiring educators?

“Be an advocate for ALL kids! Begin with good classroom management, establishing procedures and routines and continuing with good instruction. As Harry Wong says, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,’ so always be prepared. The beauty of our profession is that every year is a new year of renewal. You get a chance to right the wrongs! In other words, you get to correct mistakes from the past, thus making you a better and more effective teacher every year that you teach. Also, continue to grow professionally by investing in yourself – attend conferences, be open-minded, learn from others, ask for help, and listen. The most important advice I can give is ‘always have compassion as your touchstone.'”