Silva Retires, Impact Remains
Dr. Cecilia Silva received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar last year, and the Dean’s Teaching Award in 2014, solidifying what many in the College of Education already know. Students, fellow faculty and those she’s worked with in the community return to the same theme when describing Silva — her passion.
“She’s very passionate; her passion has translated to me,” alumni Sam Moseley said in a TCU 360 article. “She has made me a more culturally aware teacher and individual.”
Silva was born in Colombia, South America and grew up speaking Spanish and English, yet coming to the U.S. for college was a shock. It became her passion to help culturally diverse students learn.
“As an emigre, every year you understand more. You gradually move from outsider to insider,” Silva said in a TCU Endeavors article.
She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies at Ohio State University, and began teaching bilingual students in California public schools in 1976. She earned her master and doctoral degrees, teaching during the day and attending classes at night.
Silva came to TCU in 1995, reluctant to leave her position at Chico State. Dr. Doug Simpson served as Dean of the College at the time, and remembers the impact she made during her interview.
“We were excited about getting to know Cecilia as a person and observe her enthusiasm. Her instant rapport with students and faculty set her apart from other finalists,” Simpson said.
TCU and the College of Education made an impact on her too. She made the move, and quickly built relationships with College of Education centers and institutes, Fort Worth ISD and community organizations to support English language learners.
Silva has transformed her passion into practice time and again, collaborating with Dr. Molly Weinburgh and the Andrews Institute to lead summer professional development workshops and prepare FWISD biology teachers to engage language learners. She established a relationship with International Newcomer Academy and Catholic Charities to support refugee students and their families.
“Dr. Silva has many times driven door to door to invite families to meals and programs,” INA Home School Program Coordinator Faiha Al-Atrash said in a TCU Endeavors article.
While Silva led the Center for Urban Education, now the Center for Public Education, the program received the Exemplary Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparation Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Her contributions with Dr. Jan Lacina and other faculty earned TCU’s Early Childhood Education program the prestigious International Reading Association (IRA) Certificate of Distinction, from 2009-2016. The IRA commended the program on its “highly effective” practicum, and requirement for future teachers to specialize in English as a Second Language, Bilingual Education or Special Education.
“Cecilia’s impact on future educators is remarkable,” College of Education Dean Mary M. Patton said. “Her research and curriculum initiatives are recognized throughout the U.S. She is a trailblazer in ESL and Bilingual Education and her many contributions will be missed.”
After 20 years at TCU, she won’t travel far — not yet. She’ll continue to teach, write, research and mentor and prepare teachers for an increasingly global society.
“Teaching has been a central part of my life. I know I have made a difference in students’ lives just as they have made a difference in mine,” Silva said. “To them, I wish their teaching careers be as as rewarding as my time in class with them has been.”