Citation
Josefina Sanchez-Pando: interview with a former teacher

Material Information

Title:
Josefina Sanchez-Pando: interview with a former teacher
Creator:
Pando-Sanchez, Josefina ( Interviewee )
Ruiz, Richard ( Interviewer )
Publisher:
University of Arizona
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
2008
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 Volume
Measurements:
102:22 minutes
Transcript: 37 pages

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Bilingual education ( University of Arizona )
Two way immersion programs ( University of Arizona )
Spanish speaking ( University of Arizona )
English (second langauge) ( University of Arizona )
Education, Bilingual--Study and teaching (Elementary) ( fast )
Genre:
Oral histories ( fast )
Spatial Coverage:
USA -- Florida -- Dade County -- Miami

Notes

Abstract:
Oral history interview with former Coral Way teacher Josefina Sanchez-Pando with transcription. ( en )

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Source Institution:
University of Arizona
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Digital reproduction of this item is made available under an assertion of fair use (17 U.S.C. 107) for noncommercial educational and research purposes only. The University of Florida Libraries respects the intellectual property rights of others and does not claim any copyright interest in these materials. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of this item that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. The Libraries would like to learn more about these materials, and welcomes individuals or organizations to contact Digital Support Services (ufdc@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.

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Coral Way

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Coral Way Elementary School Bilingual Program Josefina Sanchez-Pando March 13, 2008 UAL_080313_SanchezPando, 102:22 minutes Interviewed by Richard Ruiz Recorded by Bess DeFarber in Miami, Florida For University of Arizona, Louise Greenfield Special Collections and Archives Tucson, Arizona Transcribed by Jardee Transcription, Tucson, Arizona Ruiz: This is an interview at the home of Dr. Josefina Sanchez-Pando. Its March 13, 2008. My name is Richard Ruiz, from the Univ ersity of Arizona. Bess DeFarber is here also in the interview. So Ill ask you to go ahead and state your name for the record, and then well just go ahead and proceed. Sanchez-Pando: All right. My name is Josefina Sanchez-Pando. I use that Pando at the end which you missed because at the time in which I was at Coral Way, and I was Bess teacher, I was just Miss Sanchez. Once, when I was teaching a sixth-grade group, I had a policeman come to my door and knock and say, Youre under arrest. Is your name Josefina Sanchez? Yes. Born in Havana, the 27th of August, 1927? And I said, Yes. Youre under arrest. And I sai d, Officer, what did I do? You had an accident, you left the scene of the accident, and there were people that were very badly hurt. And I said, And when was that? That was Wednesday, March so and so, 1964, lets say, for example. And I said, W ell, officer, you have the wrong Josefina. I have all those characteristics, but at that time, I promise you, I have thirty-five witnesses that I was teaching arithmetic at Coral Way Elementary. What do you mean? Im a teacher there, I was there, I was teaching, you can check. I was not the person in the accident, even if the name and birth and place of birth coincide. I called one of the pupils fathers, who was an attorney, and I to ld him what was happening, and he talked to Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 1

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the policeman. Next Monday, I went to court, and the judge told me to add another name to Sanchez. He said, You Cubans have so many names. Dont you have another one? I said, What do you mean, dont I have anothe r one? Sanchez is my fathers name, and Pando is my mothers name. It behooves you to put it together, because from now on, youre Sanchez-Pando, lady, so you dont ge t into trouble. A nd the other lady was Sanchez because of marriage. Her name was Jo sefina Gonzalez. So from that day on at Coral Way, Im Josefina Sanchez-Pando. Ruiz: So actually Coral Way saved you from jail. Sanchez-Pando: Absolutely! And thirty-five kids, who were my alibi, that I was really there. Ruiz: You were at Coral Way. The bilingual program at Coral Way started in ? Sanchez-Pando: September Ruiz: But you were there before that? Sanchez-Pando: Yes, I was there since as a Cuban aide. When we came over from Cuba, the teachers had no status hereeven if I came over as being a professor at the University of Havana. I started here with no credentials, because they did not allow you to take any papers from Cuba. You we re just examined, questioned, and Ford Foundation decided to place some money at the University of Miami for thirty persons who statedsome had their papers, I didntth at they were teachers in Cuba, and that they had to get their certificate here. Then we went through all sorts. I was very lucky to get into the first group, because I knew English, I taught English in Cuba, I taught English here. While my other companions were just as much a doctor as I was, a Ph.D., a chemist, but they did not speak English, and English was the barrier for them, as much as Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 2

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it was a barrier for the children. But they lear ned. I was very lucky to get among the first thirty. Ruiz: You can tell us something about th e difference between Coral Way, once it became a bilingual program, and beforehand. There was a big transition? Was it a big difference? Sanchez-Pando: It was a big transition. I got to Coral Way the 28th of October 1961. When I got there, there were some teachers as aides. There was Miss Pieiro, and oh, what was the other ladys name? Another lady who worked w ith Miss Pieiro. I got to Coral Way in a very cute way. I went to en roll my child, because I had just arrived from Cuba. She had been here a week or two befo re I came, because we were separated at the airport, and I could not take the flight, and I told her to come over alone. I had friends here, I called them, and somebody picked he r up. And when I came, like about two weeks afterwards, I went to enroll her in school. When I got there, the office was pandemonium. There were two women, Mrs. Swarmer [phonetic], and what was the other ladys name? I dont remember. The counter was full of Spanish-speaking persons, kids crying, nobody knew English, and I went over and I took over. I said, May I help you? May I help you? May I help you? And I enrolled every kid, solved all their problems, and in an hour or tw o, Mrs. Swarmer was kissing me! She said, [unclear, 06:09]. Why are you here? I said, I came to enroll my child. And it was the wrong school, because the boundary line was just across the street from where I was living. And she said, No, no, she cannot come here, she has to go to Shenandoah. But you can. I said, What do you mean, you can ? She said, Would you come and help me every morning, please? Theres going to be a position open, and Im going to talk to Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 3

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the principal. Just a moment. (raises voi ce, as if calling to someone) Mr. Logan, may I ask you a question? Can this lady come in? Look, sir, this is a woman who knows how to handle everything. Do you s ee that counter? There isnt a person left. She enrolled everybody. All the kids got quiet Everything went. I need her as the next teacher in this school! So I got the job!, through the secretary. And he said, Well, I dont have one here, lady, but I am due to get some money in fifteen days. Please, Ill call you. Fifteen days passed, and he hadnt called me. So I went over and said, Mr. Logan, you told me in fifteen days you would have the position. I need the money, so Im going to take a position at Saints Peter and Paul Schoolwhich was not true. That was a substitute position for a friend of mine who wa s going to get maternity leave. It was not a full position for me, but it was something to start working. He said, No, no, no! dont take it! Ill call downtown! He called dow ntown, he got the money, and I started at Coral Way, November 7, Ruiz: So your being at Coral Way also was a bit of an accident. You made the mistake of going to the wrong school. Sanchez-Pando: Yes, to take my child to the wrong school! My life has always been full of accidents and mistakes, but they have been, 95% of the time, very fortunate. Ruiz: Let me ask you a little more about this transition between Coral Way before, and Coral Way after. Bess has told me a little bit about the issue of the whole Peter Pan experience. Can you say something about that, and just explain it a little bit more so people can understand what that means. Sanchez-Pando: In Cuba, in 1961, Fidel passed a la w, closing all the religious schools, and expelling the nuns and the priests. And he took over education, Communist style. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 4

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That made the parents want to just throw their kids out of Cuba. I dont mind where they go, theyve gotta get out of here. A nd through Monsignor Walsh, we got a bridge to send the children over, and the Catholic Services would pick em up here, and send them to schools where they could board. And if there werent any, they were going to be made. Here in Miami, the experience wa s very. I remember it clearly, it was heartbreaking. The community around Coral Way Elementary made themselves giants. They went to the police station, they got cl earance from the police that they were good parents, and they would go at three oclock and at five oclock every afternoon to the airport to pick up children. They would sit on benches on one side of that room, and there would be another bench on the opposite sidelong, long benches, the parents sitting on one side, and the child ren on the other. And then th ere were persons there from Immigration calling the names of the children and the status, if they came alone or if they came with a brother and sisterthi s was a cluster of three, thats a cluster of five, this is a one-child deal. And the one good thing that they did, they ne ver separated kids. So if you went and you offered your home to board a child, and to help them out until their parents camewhich could be tw o weeks, two years, seven ye arsthat child was yours. The government helped you. You got a check, you got food stamps fo r the children. If there was an emergency of health, there was Ch ildrens Variety Hospital, as it was called at that time, that would take the child and wouldnt charge you. And those children remained in your home with Mrs. Smith or Dr. McCall, until their parents came. And they went to Coral Way Elementary. They also went to other sc hools in the surrounding neighborhood. And thats where the Cuban ai des went to help. A Cuban aide was a teacher from Cuba who could speak Englishbe tter or worsebut could make herself or Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 5

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himself understoodwho was placed in a room w ith an American teacher, with a bunch of American children, and here was this angel person who camebecause they werent teachers, they were angelsto help Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Roberts with these creatures that had landed in her room, to be with her children, who came from nowhere spoke a different language, behaved differently, did not like the food, hated the environment, were lonely or sad, and were afraid. That was a very different child from any other children that they had ever touched. And both the teachers and the whole system went berserk, because for a school district to ab sorb, in a year and a half, seventy-six thousand [76,000] children, you needed 76,000 desks, rooms to put those desks in. You needed a teacher for that room. You needed books which were nonexistent, books which they could not read. How could th ey get along in that classroom ?! They were bothering the teacher and the other children, and sometimes they were not. Most of the time I would say 80% of the time they were highly, highl y accepted by the othe r children, and by the teachers themselves. But there were cases in which they were not, and that made it very sad. When the children kept on coming, those Cuban aides became teachers in quotations, because they were no longer servin g Mrs. Smith in her room, translating for the kids, pulling them to a little group, interpre ting for them what was going on, teaching them in Spanish what the teacher was saying in English, giving them some sort of background. At the same time that they were learning English, they had to learn subject matter. If they were talking about the stars and the planets, they had the vehicle, there was no language to communicate what was going on. And at that time, very intelligent principalsnot allbut very intelligent principals gave the power to those Cuban Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 6

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teachers who came over, and they had a room of their own. I never taught in anybodys room. I had a room of my own the minute I stepped in Coral Way, because the principal thought that I was capable enough to do it in bo th languages, and to help others move around and get to the organization of the deal. At that time, before the bilingual pr oject startedand it st arted only in Coral Way, and believe me that was a hard delivery! You really had to push to get that going. There were rooms in which a Cuban teacher who was called a Cuban aide, because she wasnt a teacher, she had no papers here, and thats where the University of Miami saw a bridge. They saw a little hole, and they said, Wow, look whats coming here! And I tell you this because I belonged to the first group, and we were called the Marines at the university. We were called, There comes a group of the Marines, because we were opening space for others to come behind us. We had a very rough time at the University of Miami: the roughest, the meanest, the most denigrating time that anybodythose first two groups of teacherswe sweated it out, we were Marines. Our corps paved the way for all the rest of the teachers of all th e programs of all the bilingual things. We paid for it. We paid for it immensely, because in that groupin which we happened to have been thirty-three. Ford Foundation only placed m oney for thirty people. And when everybody took their tests and all the papers were clea r, and, What is your point? What is your category? There were three persons at the end of the line [beyond] the thirtieth position, that had everything the same. So they cal led and said, What do we do? How do we break the tie? Alphabetically? Eenie, m eenie, miney, mo? Pull a string? And Ford Foundation said, No, take the other three. So we were thirty-three Marines. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 7

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When we got certifiedand believe me, teachers nowadays gripein six months we went through the graduate record examin ation in education, and in everything else that you said you knew in Cuba and you had st udied and you had it to your avail. After taking the graduate record, we took the na tional teachers examination, which doesnt exist now. Then we took the Florida teachers examination. Those three big monsters, in six months of training. Nobody at the universit y expected us to pass it. The day before the big, big test, I will never forget it. Dr. Vesponik [phonetic], who was the provost of the university at that time, and who was one of our four teachers, came in and said, A pep rally! Now ladieshe addressed th e ladiesI know how emotional all you Cuban ladies are, but tomorrow youre going to go through a great experience in your life, that nobody else has done, and this is a group of thir ty-three persons. If they were North Americans, who had undergone all the learning n eeded to pass those tests here, out of the group of thirty-three, we would be ve ry happy if twenty passed. But since you have not gone through the learning, and a ll of your experience is very empirical, we do not expect more than seven to pass, out of thirty-three. So when we get the grades back, I dont want any crying, I dont want any bickering, you just take what comes to you. Wow, that was a gallon of very, very cold water. That was the wrong pep rally. I was always very outspoken in my group, so I stood up and said, Dr. Vesponik, Im ashamed of you. You know why? Because for the first time in your life, you have had the privilege of having si tting on the other side of the table, thirty-three doctors just as much as you are. And in my case, doctor, I have two doctorates, and I speak four languages, so I think I am four times better than you in languages, and twice better than you in knowledge. And you dare. Like I am here, every one of these persons has one Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 8

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or two doctorates from a university, that has been teaching for 250 years, like the University of Havana. I wish this University of Miami ever grew to be just a third of what we came from. You know what? Dont worry about us. We are going to surprise you. Ladies and gentlemen, todays class is over let us go. We left. We took the test the next day, and the grades didnt come, a nd the grades didnt come, and the grades didnt come. We were just about to flip. There was a girl working at the office, her name was Rita, who was a friend of ours from Cuba. She also had a doctorate. She was a secretary. We had asked Rita, when the grades come in, youve got to see them. Please call anybody who got flunked, so that we dont have to go. So that Vesponik cant say (in sing-song) Hey, you didnt make it, you didnt make it! And Rita never called. One day we were all in class, and here comes Dr. Vesponik ag ain, with tiny little pieces of transparent paper, like copy paper, the paper that you used to put in typewriters with carbon paperthat second piece of paper. I wish I had mine at handI have it someplace. Well, little strips, like that, ve ry denigrating, that was all you were gonna get for those tests, a little piece of transparent pa per, which said whether you made it or not. When he came in, everybody froze, and I told everybody, He s gonna call out the names, and hes gonna flunk you. So don t you cry, dont you movenothing. Dont anybody look at what you get. Let the pe rson next to you look, and you just knock and say, You made it, you didnt make it. If you didnt make it, get out. He starts, Soand-So, So-and-So, So-and-So. And you could hear the buddy next to you, You made it! (gasp) You made it! (gasp) You ma de it! Out of thirty-three, thirty-three passed. And the professors from the university up north came to see if the test had been Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 9

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tampered with, or if they had thirty-three geniuses there. That was the beginning of bilingual education at the University of Miami. We ma de it, thirty-three out of thirtythree. Everybody got scholarships, up to a doctoral position, in a ll the universities up north. Princeton was the uni versity that made the test s, and Yale, Harvardanybody would take em, for the outstanding grades that thirty-three made out of thirty-three English not being their native language. Out of those thirty-three, I would say twenty had the command of English that I could tell you was the fifth grade, and no more than that. You know why we made it? Because the hard words in English, the educated words in English, are derived from Greek and Latin, and so is Spanish. And because of the derivations of the words, and going back to Greek or to Lati n, everybody could make it. Now, it was horrible when you got a five-l etter word that was really pure Anglo. There you knew it or you didnt know it. Th ere was no way you could put that word. But nevertheless, we all made it. Ruiz: Do you know where those teachers went, and do you know any of them still? Sanchez-Pando: Very few left Miami. I reme mber Magdalena Garcia went to Princeton. She had a doctorate in mathematics. She was a wizard in mathematics. There were two persons who went up north. But the rest of them remained here, because their families were here, or part of the family was here, and part of the family was in Cuba. Everybody felt they were near home, being here: the temperature, the trees, the wild birds, the animals. Everywhere you went out of the city, you could say you were in Cuba. If you drove down to Homestead a nd you sat on the ground and you just looked around, you could have been in any province of Cuba. It was near home. In that situation, we were all expecting to go back as soon as possible. This was a transitory part Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 10

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of your life, which would be a couple of years, but we would go back, and it would be easier to go back from here. The minute I got here, the very same minute I got here, before I even went to Coral Way, and I went to the refugee center, th e person in charge of it was Steven Renfro [phonetic], and I had b een Stevens teacherhis two boys had been my pupils in Cuba, and his wife was Cuban and she was a friend of mine. We had gone to elementary school together. And when I went there and I said, Steven! what are you doing here? Josephine! I just came in! Lets go, lets go! I had immediately there five or six jobs I coul d have taken at a university, up north, teaching at a university, and not having had to have gone through the de nigration that we had to go [through] at the University of Miami. Miami was a little southern town that was a beach resort. And people here did not have the cosmopolitan know -how that exists up north. And we were strangers. Not all of us were blond and blue -eyed, or green-eyed like I am. Some were darker, and it was the enemy coming in. Let the last American that leaves Miami carry the flag. And that was the slogan on big billboards. It was a time insulting. What you hear now of discrimination and the Mexican migrants coming over and everything, it was applied to us. First, at the very beginni ng, we were taken in with love, and Oh, what comes here? What is this? because Americans had a big, big heart. They can take in a lot of misery and help the persons when theyre down. Theres an earthquake in Timbuktu. A hundred thousand people. There we go! Help them! They have always been helpers, they have been a paternalizing society. But at the same time, in the bottom of their hearts, they have been a group of pe ople that are fearful of others that might do, or might know, more than them. And when they realized that here comes a Cuban man who gets a job parking cars at a hotel in Mi ami Beach, and in ten weeks hes not parking Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 11

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cars anymore, he is doing this, and in a y ear, hes the vice-president of the hotel. That is scary. That is frightening, the way that we took over, and the way we built this town. And the way we help culture, museums, the philharmonic, the symphony, the opera. They existed, but they were dwindling. Yes, lets say they were just dwindling. When we came over, we came over with a lot of know ledge, because the first people that came from Cuba, from 1959 to 1962, which was the problem of Kennedy and Khrushchev and all the things, the ammunition they had in C uba, those three years the elite of a very cultured country came over. They were not the peasants, they were the elite. And even so, a peasant from Cuba would not be comp arable to a peasant from Guatemala or Mexico, because our standards of educati on were much, much, much higher than any other South or Central American country. We were a combination of a piece of the best of Europe and the Creole, which would be the criollo that had come out of the mixture and the acculturation of 200-300 years of excellent education in Cuba. I was a teacher in Cuba, and were here at the same time th at in Miami nobody would be teaching Spanish, the centro especiales de ingls special English centers existe d in Havana in every other school in which English was taught to the popul ation. The only thing you had to be able to be or to have to go into one of those, you would have to be at le ast a fifth-grader and know how to read and write in Spanish. But if you werent, I had in my room with the English Center, number 5, in Havana, I had la wyers, I had doctors, I had persons who wanted to learn another languagejust as much as the little black Joe who just came out of fourth grade, and his mommy who was somebodys maid or somebodys cook, wanted the kid to learn another language. That was the idea that the population in Cuba had. There was the Alliance Franaise in which you could go and learn French, and you Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 12

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wouldnt even have to pay. The government of France had all those schools in Havana. So it was a cultured population that came ove r, and very humbly went to work doing whatever. I had doctors, friends of mine, magnificent surgeons, picking up tomatoes in Homestead. And I met them there and sai d, Doctor, your hands! How are you doing that to your hands?! Josefina, Ive got to eat. But there ar e things that you cant hide. You cant hide coffee, because it smells a lot. You cannot hide perfume, because you can smell it. And you cannot hide education, because it comes up. And they came up, and we all came up, and we made this city what it is now. Ruiz: I was interested in not just whether th ey stayed in the area its actually a very interesting reason for staying in the areabut also if you know if they went into schools, or if they went to schools some other place. Sanchez-Pando: I lost them. One of us went to Alaska. Ruiz: So they scattered? Sanchez-Pando: A couple of them scattered, bu t I would say 80% stayed here. Ruiz: Do you have any kinds of material s of the experience that you had at the University of Miami in that programwhether its the materials that they used, or rosters of the teachers, the thirty-threeanything like that? Sanchez-Pando: I had every little b it of it. (sigh) And Hurricane Andrew destroyed them. There were no books in Spanish at th e time, and we had to teach the kids the Spanish. Ruiz: But I mean at the University of Miami. Perhaps at the University of Miami they might have records of that program. Sanchez-Pando: Im sure they do. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 13

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Ruiz: Was it called anything sp ecific, any special name? Sanchez-Pando: It was called. Wait. Retr ainingthat was the first word. Retraining Program for Cuban Professionals and Teacherssomething of the kind. Ruiz: We can try to find that. Sanchez-Pando: It was housed at thewhats th e name of the building, the first building as you come into the parking lot? We had a special office and everything. Look, at that time, the University of Miami wa s in great debt. They were bankrupt. And Dade County Public Schools made some sort of a treaty with them that Dade County Public Schools wanted the teachers here in Dade County to better themselves. Dade County Public Schools would pay the University of [Miami] half of what it cost to put a teacher through special courses to get them from a bachelor, to a masters, to get them to a doctoral program. They paidbecause I went through that pr ogramthey would pay you the first six credits. Da de County Public Schools w ould pay. Josefina SanchezPando didnt have to pay a penny. They paid the first six credits if you got a B or better in the six credits, you automatically have the next six also free. If there was a C there, you would have to pay for half of it. The Dade County Public Schools would pay for it, you would pay for it. But if not. I went through my masters and my doctorates free because believe me, I worked for those As like there was no tomorrow, because I didnt have the money to pay. Had I not been fortunate enough to have been able to have made it, I wouldnt have done it, because I had no money to go through. And since we were so desperate, the whole group was so desperate for money, we worked like beasts. One of the things that pulled me through, I didn t type, I didnt know how to type. Ha! Who would do my papers for me? I had b eautiful handwriting. My calligraphy was out Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 14

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of this world. I had a couple of very intelligent professors at the university. And I traded for points. The work that we did in Coral Wa y, everything that was going to be taught in Spanish we took out of those English books. We translated it into Spanishnot that any of the administrators could read it, becau se they didnt know Spanish. I could have written there go to hell in Spanish, and th ey wouldnt know the difference. But it was written in [pen?]. So when an American teacher would put in her daily plans, Arithmetic, Ginn and Company, Book 6, Pa ge 125-130, subtracting and regrouping, I would have to write all of what was going to be done in that book. And sometimes a subject matter would take fourteen pages out of written work, because you had to put there what the book said in English that I wa s going to say in Spanish, so that at the moment that I was delivering the lesson, I didn t have to hesitate, because I had it down there. So I traded all of that and I got grades for that, so th at I would go a little bit faster. Because the only, oooooooh I was forgetting this. We were not considered bright enough to take more than six credits per semest er, no matter what you did, no matter what you know, no matter how you proved yourself. Sometimes I had teachers in which, excuse me, I knew more than them, because that was the subject I taught at the University of Havana. I was a teacher at the university, and I had to re-take my same subjects. I talked to the dean once and said, Look, doctor, please, give me the test for this and for that and for the other. Ill take the tests right now. And if I make less than 90 points, make me go through the class agai n. But if I dont, dont let me sit there, listening, wasting my life away, when we are only given the opportunity of six credits pe r semester. We never got it. We went six credits per semester until we got 36, 40, 66 credits. You know how many semesters we had to sit there?! From 6:30 at night to 11:00, and then rush home, Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 15

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be a mother, a wife, a teacher; do the homewo rk for the university; do the translating for the school; correct the papers of the kids. Now come on, we proved ourselves great. Im very proud, very proud of having been part of that group. Ruiz: Do you remember when Coral Ways bilingual program first started, how it started, what your role was when it started? Can you remember the first kids who walked in the door? Any of that? Sanchez-Pando: Oh, that was forty-some years ago. I remember some of the kids, but not all of the kids. At that time, the progr am started in first, second, and third grades. Ruiz: This was in 1963? Sanchez-Pando: In 1963. With the promotion of the third graders from the course, we would then have a fourth grade the coming year, and it would be first, second, third, and fourth. And so on, until it got to sixt h. So the group that started in third grade went through third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. The group that started in second grade, went through five years. And the gr oup that started in first grade really, really took six years of Spanish. At that time, teachers were paired, one Cuban teacher to one North American teacher. Us having the privilege of speak ing both languages, and the North American teacher not having the privilege, because they could not speak Spanish. It was very hard, very hard, to work with them, to understand things. Spelling rule s in Spanish would not be true in English. Syntax cannot be comp ared, because adjectives in Spanish have gender and have number. It was not understandable. (rai sing voice) What is this that I have in front of me?! (resuming moderate vol ume) So we had to teach teachers, teach parents, and teach children that you can say the same thing in different ways in different languages. You can take the thought, you can te ach the principle, but its not the same Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 16

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the way it is done. One fat boy, one fat girl two fat boys, two fat girlswe only have fat in English. In Spanish we would have gordo, gorda, gordos, gordas Oh no, that was too much. (raising voice) What do you mean you have gordo, gorda ?! (raising voice even louder) Well it is, it exists. Sorry Sorry, but thats th e way it is, and thats the way weve got to teach the kids. (re suming moderate volume) The kids got it sooner than the parents and the teacher. Believe me, they just went like that (snaps fingers). I had such wonderful children, such wonderful children in Coral Wayvery intelligent American children. Ruiz: Was there some period before the program startedafter you knew you were going to have the program, but before it started? Sanchez-Pando: We had a summer. Ruiz: Where there was like traini ng or development or whatever? Sanchez-Pando: We had development, not training. We had the summer of a training and material-making in Coral Way, the whole day. We were to write the objectives, we were to write th e goals, we were to develop them, we were to develop the classes up to a class, a subject matter, a topic. We went and we wrote all of that. The North American teachers didnt go through th e whole summer, because they were going to keep on teaching the same curriculum in English, so they did not need that much training. The only training they would need, and needed tremendously, was the acculturation, that was not there, and it just wasnt there. There were some of the teachers who were magnificent, and some w ho were very stubborn, who, in spite of them, it was a success. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 17

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There was a reaction also from the commun ity. Most of our children came from the Bay Heights area, the near Coral Gables area, and the Shena ndoah area, in which it washere it was high socio-economic families. Persons who at that time, in those families, they had the best of the best. The Jewish community at Bay Heights did a lot for the program, a tremendous They were our backbones, because they knew of the importance of more than one language, becau se they taught their children Yiddish and they went to Hebrew school, and they knew more than one language, English plus A, B, or C. So if they c ould get English plus Spanish, mm, that was great, because they saw, they saw because they were merchants, their blood is full of work and commerce. They knew that the United States had to l ook to South America and Central America for markets. They knew that money would be coming up and down, and going up and down South America and Central America. And they also knew that if they could speak the language, they could sell better their products. They w ould understand the language of the enemy, and they could outwit them, outsell them, and win. And to do that, I had to know their language. I taught Spanish to about seven or eight coupl es at Bay Heights the parents of my children. And I have never, never had more interested persons. I used to teach adults in Cuba, so it was no problem changing from a thirdgrade teacher to. A parent I wasnt going to teach them the same things, but I went every afternoon from four to sixbecause at 6:30 I was due to go to the university to studyto one of the houses. Now well meet today in Mrs. Fein s house, and tomorrow in Mrs. So-and-Sos house, and [the day after]. And I woul d have Daddy and Mother sitting at those tables. I would have dinner served for me, a nd I ate right there in the middle of the class, so that I could have eaten something before I went to the university. And they learned Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 18

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Spanish. They learned Spanish. (raising volume) Mrs. Sanchez! Because when Wendy comes home, and Susie comes home, th ey speak in Spanish and we dont know what theyre saying. (volume returns to normal) Then I say, Thats fine. So then you know what theyre saying, lets learn the la nguage. And it started. And the spark came out from the school and the children into th e community. And they saw that the Cuban people were beginning to do things and ha ve things: opened drugstores, opened hospitals. The Pan-American Hospital was the first hospital here in Miami with fifty beds at that time, in which all of the doctors were Cubans; in which all of the nurses spoke Spanish. And this store and the othe r store, and this business and the other business. So if were going to be in busin ess, Im going to learn your language, so that we can be equals. They started feeling less. And all of that came from the kids in Coral Way. And all of that came because they sa w the magnificence of speaking more than one language. And afterwards, they understood that it was not only speaking a second language, it was living the second culture. And then we came into the American culture here, through foodas Cuban f ood is exquisite. They would like Cuban food, and they would eat Cuban food. Through music. Musi c is a universal language. And Spanish music is very pretty. And also the spirit that came with that music, that salsa, that chacha-cha, and all of the rest of the joie de vivre that th e Cuban community had, because it could alsowe were crying in our hearts, we were devastated when we could sing, we had enough heart to pull a joke, and to keep on going, and to laugh at ourselves and at our mistakes, and to learn from them. Ruiz: Let me ask you about that professional de velopment that you had in that summer. You said that you were given this professional development. Does that mean that there Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 19

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was some kind of staffing already for the bi lingual program? In other words, there was somebody in charge of it, there was a director of it, or somebody who was giving you that professional development, or how did that work? Sanchez-Pando: They werent giving us professional development, because we were professionally developed. We were trying to write in Spanish the curriculum that was going to be taught in September. What are we gonna do? Well, were gonna do this and this and that. And the echelon was Dr. Rojasshe was a Puerto Rican lady who was a teacher at some university in Puerto Ri co; there was Paul Bell; there was Roseanne Klein [phonetic]; and there was Manita Cantero; and there wa s Ralph Robinette. You got it. Those were the five legs in which the platform was. The five, being totally bilingual, the five of them spoke English and Spanish, equally well. Ruiz: Did that also translate in to eventually some kind of st ructure at Coral Way for the bilingual program? In other words, was the director or something like that? Sanchez-Pando: The principal at Coral Way was Joseph Lee Logan. Coral Way was chosen by chance: eenie, meenie, miney, mo, boom! Coral Way. And at the same time, I told you at the beginning that the North American families were picking the children that were coming from Cuba. This was a rich community in which a family could bring two or more kids to their house, because they we rent going to starve. Their houses were big enough to add another bed, to have another ch ild, and Coral Way was the school chosen. The parent school for the experiment was Auburndale. Auburndale Elementary would do the same thing to the children that were there, in English(rappi ng table for emphasis) English, English, English, Eng lish, English. Dump em into English, total immersion, sink or swim. Lets see, in three years, wh at has come out of those children, how much Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 20

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English have they learned, and how much subjec t matter? Do they know social studies? Do they know science? Do they know the cu rriculum of the fifth-grade science? Was the language barrier strong enough to prevent those children from learning? They learned nothing in science. They learned nothing in social studies, because of the lack of the language to get th e message through. Or Yeah! They swam! They didnt sink! But they did sink, because you cant do it any other way, if you dont know what they are saying. And I have the best Chinese teacher here, giving the most cultural lecture in Chinese, and I dont know Chinese, I cant get it, Im gonna lose it. I might learn Chinese in three yearswhich was the time s upposedly given to a child to be able to incorporate itself to the main streamthree years. Yeah, su re, I can speak English. But what do I know about science? Because in th e time I spent learning English, all the other kids were getting the subject matter and I wasn t getting it, so Im a fifth grader who doesnt know from atoms that there are nine planets. You know? And since I wasnt even taught in Spanish, que hay nueva planetas, then I didnt know. I plain was a dumb Spanish capable of speaking English at a fifth-grade level, but not knowing anything. And it worked. Coral Way, we spent In Ford Foundation was pouring money in to the University of Miami because we began with thirty-three, but the se cond group was sixty, and the third group was ninety. They were pouring money into that university, and Washington, Aiii! Hello! We need money! Florida cant feed these kids, teach these kids! Hello, were drowning! And they started pouring money, and I mean good money, into Florida. Thank God they earmarked it, because if not, it would have been disseminated to buy chalk and new blackboards. But it did go into the programs. It went into the training. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 21

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And then Dade County Public Schools founded its own training for the teachers. So you became a teacher at May Walters Elementary School. Fine! This year you have to go to enough workshops, provided free of charge, by Dade County Public Schools, with a teacher to teach you how to do this or that or the other. And at the same time that they were taking subject matter at the university, they were doing what a normal teacher from the normal school that Horace Mann, your ge niusI wish everybody knew in this United States who he is and what he didit s not knowing, its knowing to teach what you know. Its making it easy so that all of your knowledge, all of your experience, can be passed down to a child. How do you get to that person? Through love, through appreciation, character building, making them fe el theyre wonderful. And in the process of all of that, oh, we have this thing called subjects; and that thing called arithmetic. [unclear 58:07] for another. But for those thinkers, we can make it wonderful if we just turn it around. And teachers were taught how to deal with the teaching of a subject matter. How do you teach social studies in third gr ade? You might know a lot of it, but if you dont know how to pass it on, it stays in you, and th e only thing you do is you burden the kids with things they dont understand, and they will hate the subject at the end of the course. We dont care if they hate you, the teacher. Youre not important. They will hate math for the rest of their lives. And math is. No, no, no, no. Youve got to learn how to teach. And that is one thing that at the univ ersities here, in Dade County, I have not encountered good methods of teaching subject matter. Ruiz: You had mentioned that you spent a lot of your time translating materials. Sanchez-Pando: Uh-huh, that was [unclear 59:19]. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 22

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Ruiz: Was there a time in that early period when you then got Spanish materials, got books or whatever? Sanchez-Pando: Yes. I think, to the best of my knowledge, I think it was Ginn and Company that brought us down the first series of readers in Spanish that were used in the Puerto Rican schools. In Puerto Rico they were selling these books written in Spanish as readers. We started with readers, to get to a subject matter, to a social studies book or a science book, it took like about ei ght or ten years to get the publishing companies to feel that they had a market coming up, that there wa s going to be a need for this to be done, because you would be selling one million books! Oh, thats great! Because we ended being like around 170,000 kids. And thats some pretty money, 170,000 books. And in two years, theyd be destroyed, and you need another 175,000. And more kids are coming, more books are going to be sold. In the year 1968, I remember that they had built a pod, a ne w building at Coral Way, which is square. Its on the left side, in front of Room 115, which was divided by one big wall into two rectangular humongous rooms. There were three teachers who were going to be put on one side, and three teachers on the other side. I was always, remember, the Marines. And when anythi ng new came, Miss Sanchez, youre gonna go. So Miss Sanchez went there. And in that pod was Ethel Mike s, Josefina Sanchez, and Rosaura Sotolongo, Anita Sotolongo. We we nt in there, and each one of us had a desk and a group of children facing that des k, and a blackboardone to the right, one to the left, and one to the other corner. And there was a corner in which it was like a room for experiments. There were sinks and ther e were big tables where you could do things with plastic things. And we would all teach at the same time, 110 children in that room. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 23

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And we had to be keeping our voices to a point, pitch, and a tone, in which you wouldnt be bothering the other children, and they w ouldnt be paying atten tion to your teaching but what was being taught by the other teacher. The subject matters were being taught in two languages, because for example I could be teaching social studies in Spanish to my group, and Mrs. Mikes could be teaching math in English to her group. And Mrs. Sotolongo would be teaching health, in Spanis h, to her group. And we were all working like that. I raised my arms and was very mu ch against it, and I was. Mr. Gato was the person in charge, the director in charge of that. And I would tell him. He wasHis grandparents had been Cuban, and that is wh ere the name Gato came from. And I was telling him, You cannot. We are experiment ing with one medicine for one illness. You cannot put another experime nt into one experiment, and another experiment into that experiment. Youre feeding three medi cines to the kids. You might kill them, but you dont know which of the three killed them It can be a successbut you dont know which one of the three was the successful one. Was it 1? Was it 2 or 3? Was it the 3? Was it a combination of? Dont mix experiment s! But they did, and it worked. We had to make things work. In that year, in that pod, we were exposed from the very beginning, it was an open experimental school in whic h anybody could come in and obs erve a teacher, a lesson, a class. I had from the minister of education of South Africa, and the minister of education from France, sitting in my room, in the bac k, while I was teaching a class. They would come in, you wouldnt know who they were. They would come in with an aide or with a big [unclear 64:29], and they would come in and sit in the back, observe, take notes, come in. They only thing they couldnt do wa s interrupt the class a nd be part of it, or Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 24

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question the children or question the teacher s. But they could be there and tape everything. And here comes this gentleman. I was te aching a social studie s class through art, because that was the joke of teaching something through a method that is not the common method. You want to teach both th ingsand I was teaching social studies, it was the period of historyI was teaching Spain at the momentit was a period of history in which it was the Renaissance in Sp ain, and we were studyi ng the painters. And I was teaching El Greco and I was teaching Velasquez. I had gotten, through somebody who had this magnificent thing, who they loaned it to us, an old lantern. Then you had slides that were glass, and it projected the im age of what was in that glass. It was the most beautiful object that I had ever had in my life, and it had a collection of Greco paintings and Velasquez paintings. And it had a gadget in which you could close the vision and close the light so that you would get it to point just to one detail of the picture. I could make a picture go down to a hand, or to a flower in the pictureto a very little point. And I was teaching them the differences between the hands of Greco and Velasquez, the differences of the textures of the persons that they were painting. And I was over there teaching [unclear 66:50]. A nd I saw this gentleman writing [unclear]. And I kept on going. The class endedrri iinggg! Everybody goes to recess. And I picked up my things and I was on my way out He said, Excuse me, where did you get that? Wasnt it magnificent? Mr. So-and-So loaned it to us. How long have you had it? Oh, a couple of days, two, three, just for this week. How did you prepare? From what book or books did you. What are your sources for your class? Because I was teaching in Spanish. Where did you get that? And I said, Sir, youre looking at Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 25

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the book, I am the book. And he says, Youre hired. And I said, Im what ?! I was making, at that time, 5,500 dollars a year, t eachers pay. Of course I could go to the grocery store and buy a chicken for 25 cents. And a gallon of milk cost 40 cents, so its all proportionate. But I was making 5,500 dollars a year. That was my contract for a year, divided into ten, because they would pay us for ten months. There was no pay for the summer. And the gentleman right there and then offered me 25,000 to go to New York! He said, I want you to direct! to st art getting: Do this, do that! Ill get you a whole lot of things, because we need to write those books in Spanish. And I said, You most certainly do, but Im not going to be your teacher. Get yourself [unclear 68:40]. And then is when we started getting books of all the subject matter in Spanish. It started in -, we got the first books. And I dont rememberthey were math and science, to the best of my recollection, that came in Sp anish. Math was the first thing that came in Spanish. Because at the same time, it was the subject matter that needed less words. Ruiz: You dont happen to know if any of t hose books still exist there somewhere? Sanchez-Pando: Doctor, when things are good, unfort unately, in this country, they are replaced. They are bettere d, they areyou extrapolate fr om here. When you have a good thing, it lasts a couple of years. But somebody has to come and ruin it and make it better. And in that betterment, it ruins that. At the same time, there was a magnificent project going on at th e beach at [Fire? 69:53] in whichFire was a big school, and half of the school was empty, there were no children. Miami Beach at that time was a city of tourists and old retired persons. There were no young families, there were no children. So half the school was empty, and they gave us that half of the school to produce th e Miami Linguistic Readers. I have never in Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 26

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my life seen a better product at the end of everything. There was a team of writers there, a team of illustrators, and we used to go once a week on Mondays to check, move around the things that were being done, and draw n, and developed during a week. On Monday we would go and change it around. Robinette, Ralph Robinette was in charge of that development. And what came out of that series was the best series that I have seen for a non-North American-English-speaking person to learn how to read. Because you dont teach reading in Spanish as you teach read ing in English, because both languages are different. They dont work the same, so you cant teach it the same. And these books were written to attack the problems of heari ng, that the Spanish child has, that the North American child does not. Because in the de velopment of his language at home, he picks up the short I and the long I immediately, because my shoes dont fit on my feet. And those kids say it, fit a nd feet. And it is nothing for them, because its fit and feet. Oh! but dont give that to a Spanish child! Because hes going to have feet all the time, or fit all the time, because in Sp anish we have five wonderful, round, middle vowelsah, eh, ee, oh, oo [A-E-I-O-U]that do not exist in English. Our Spanish ah is not ay and its not ahh. Its ah. And theres no ah in English. And ee is eh. And its not the eh of egg. Its the ay of elephant. Ay, eh. And those books were done, those first fourteen or fifteen r eaders dealt with only one vowel sound in the whole reader. Nat the rat saw a fat cat. , the whole book! And there wasnt one word that was not an And the stories were very well developed. The drawings went in. Biff and Tiff. Biff is a dog, like. Let me see what he would be. Hes a mutt, who is the father of Tiff. And Tiff is a very mischie vous little dog that does all sorts of bad things that you can do in English with a short And theyd play along, Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 27

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and its just a tiny reader. Like a big book being little, with a great big picture and three or four lines of caption underneath, sixteen, twenty page s long. And you deal with And then the second bo ok is Nat the Rat, And the fourth book is Tuck Duck, Theres no in Spanish. But youve got to teach em. But you cant teach em with Dick and Jane. Run Jane, run! No, it doesn t! It comes into a North American child because he had heard the language five years at home before he goes to school and sits in front of that thing thats called a book, that has pictures and little googles down there, which are called letters. When you put them together, you make words. And then somebody tells you, Read! Well, the Miami Linguistic Readers, at th e end of. We printed them ourselves here. We went through. They were big books. There was music written for those. (hums) I try to remember one of those songs. A collection of everything that you need to teach reading: the big book, the tapes, the projection. It was all done here locally, by artists here. In those school s we duplicated, we drew, we did everything there. We got them out into the schools, it was working fine. Ginn and Company buys them, and then Ginn and Company adds color to the books, because they were black-and-white. We couldnt afford anything but black-and-white And they were very good black-and-white books. Added one dab of color to the book. I remember Nat the Rat had red. And Tuck Duck had brown. And you know what? The books disappeared and they went into oblivion. And that magnificent proj ect, that was done by people who knew the differences in the language, because they could speak both of them, and see where one carried on with the other, and knew that piggy-backed on that, and where one language Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 28

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fought the other one, and then ther e is where you taught those folks ; ; ; and you got em! Let me tell you, you can delete it from what were taping, if it turns out to be a little reddish. I was standing at my door, Room 115 one day, and Miss Marta Sierra was walking down the hall, passing, with her first graders. My door wa s the last down that hall, and as the children walked down the line a couple of them came back and told me, Miss Sanchez! Miss Sanchez! Cmere! Im gonna tell you how I know how to read! Then I said, What is it? Somebody had take n a crayon and on one of the walls of the little house where the equipment for P.E. was put away, somebody had scribbled, Tuck Duck can _uck. And the child decoded it beau tifully and turned to me and said, And what does this word mean? And I said, Ask Mrs. Richardson. Shes your English teacher. I dont know, but you certainly decoded it perfect The sun came up perfect. Ruiz: Well try to find some of those readers. Well see if we can find any of them somewhere. Sanchez-Pando: I dont know. I had some of them. But everything got soiled with the hurricane. Ruiz: Our time is quickly slipping away, so just let me ask you one more thing about parents and about community: what kind of relationship there was between the school and the community, especially the parents, if there were things that happened at the school? Sanchez-Pando: The Latin parents that came in, as they came in, little by little dwindle, coming through Mexico and through here and th rough there, and the Freedom Flights and what have you, were very, very, very coope rative with the project. And anything they Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 29

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had, they shared, because they saw the magnifi cent thing that they were doing for their children. Their children had not only learned English, they had not forgotten Spanish. They were fluent in the language of the gr andparents who came down with them. They could communicate. The relationship betw een the Spanish-speak ing parents and the school was magnificent. The relationship with the North American parentsdifferent. Those parents that came from the Bay Height area, those parents that were better off economically, that had more and knew more, were fascinated with the program. They backed it 10,000%. They themselves, as I told you, got involved in learning Spanish. Spanish was added to the curriculum of juni or college, to the curri culum of the English Center, to the curriculum of every high school here: Spanish for English speakers, Spanish 101, 102, and 103. There were Spanish lessons taught completely grammar, reading, writing, or they were just conversational Spanish: conversational Spanish for lawyers, conversational Spanish for this and th at. And Spanish came into the curricula of the higher educational centers. And a lot, I would say 95% of that community that came, we had, at that time, a very strong Greek community around here. Those Greeks were magnificent! the way the mothers came in and helped. We had the most wonderful PTA that any school had in the fi fty states of the United States. The first Christmas, the Christmas of there were 178 Spanish kids at Coral Way. Out of those 178, I will tell you 160 had no parents here. And the PTA pres ident, Mrs. Lagette [phonetic], I would never, never forget her. It was a very cold wint er, extra cold for Miami, and those kids were shivering. They were just having thr ee and four shirts, one on top [of the other], because they had come with tropical clot hing. And besides, Fidel didnt let anybody come with more than forty-four pounds in a bag. Do you know what forty-four pounds Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 30

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is? Two pairs of shoes and four other things Because, I dont know why cloth weighs so much, but it does. So practically the children were naked. I was in Room 101, Mrs. Lagette knocked, Miss Sanchez, may I come in? She was coming for another project, and she looked at th e children. After she looked at the children, she took me to the side and said, Mrs. Sanchez, dont these parents know any better? Look, those children are shivering. I said Mrs. Lagette, these children ha ve no clothes. And here in this room, its magnificent, because 101 is on top of the boiler room of the school, and that was a hot room. That was nice and co zy. Wait til you see the other rooms! Ten minutes after, Mrs. Lagette comes in agai n with a big copy book, a pencil, and some measuring tape. So-and-So, [come here]. What are you doing, Mr s. Lagette? Oh, I have a project for the children. By that afternoon, she had called every mother in that PTAall North Americans, because there we re no Spanish parents in the PTAtold them the need. She went to Richardsthat was a store downtown that was comparable to a K-Mart. She went to Richards and she bou ght a pair of shoes, three pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, for the boys two pairs of pants, three shirts, one jacket, and one sweater, for every child. PTA clothed those children in the winter of because they were not only shivering of loneliness, they were shivering of cold. It was cold here in Miami, and they had nothing to wear. That was the way they responded to the needs of those children. They responded with love, with the love that a mother would have given to their own child. Yet there was a part of the Anglo comm unity that hated our guts, that fought downtown at the board of education to have the program taken away for this, that, and every other thing. And they demanded that there be a room in Coral Way in which their Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 31

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children would only be taught th e curriculum in Eng lish, just like any other school, with no getting around with that Span ish. And they fought it so badly. Mrs. Richards taught that problem, and Mrs. Licours [phonetic] ta ught that problem in the little middle room, on top of the stairs as we come up, between Room 106 and 105. That small room there, there were twelve, fifteen children, but they ex isted. Twelve or fift een children that were fourth graders, fifth graders, and sixth grad ers. And another little group of first, second, and third. So there was a first, second, a nd third group of North Am erican children that were taught only in English. But you know, it was so cute, and so magnificent, that Mrs. Licour, who is a Cuban, taught one of t hose English groups for the English kids. Damned if they do, damned if they dont. So there was a part of the community. We had another big fight. In sixth grade, when I was with Mrs. Mikes in Rooms 110 and 109, that was another experiment. They tore down a wall, and we had a folding door. So that at some time during the day, we could open the door and have a group of sixty children. The teac her would stand where the fold came in, so it could be halfway in between this group and the othe r, and would teach whatever was going to be taught to the whole group. That experiment of the wall dow n was Mrs. Mikes and Mrs. Sanchez. And the room was right beside us. It was be tween 109 and 108, the li ttle room of the nonSpanish-speakers/haters. They were the Ku Klux Klan of Coral Way. Thats how we Spanish teachers used to call them. Of c ourse, just in our mindsthe words were not spoken, but they were felt. I was teaching a social studi es classhere we go back againlittle renaissance to my painters, and Im sorry, everything that Greco painted was a sain t, or a virgin. A great part of what Morillo [phonetic], what Velasquez painted, were virgins and saints Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 32

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and angels. And this lady took Mrs. Mikes and Mrs. Sanchez to court because we were teaching religion in the classroom. We dont teach [religion]. Yes! Holy Saint Soand-So! The Virgin [So-and-So]! Thats what the picture is called. I cant call her Mary Feeding the Kid. And of course we won it. They did not want that to be taught. The Middle Ages, the Renaissance had to be skipped, because there was too much religion. We couldnt speak [unclear]. Well, of course we won, but it was an obstacle. So there were problems of religion. Christmas! Ha, ha, ha. Christ-mass. Im sorry, you cant take Christ out of the word. So the Jewish community didnt like it. They didnt want Christmas trees in the room. And Christmas is a very important part of the Latin American culture. And we were teaching how it is celebr ated in different countries: in Sweden, the girls put some ribbons on their heads with candles; and in Af rica they do this; and the other dah-dah they do. That is comparative religion! No! that is cult ure! Christmas trees could not be put up. Well, we put up! I had a wonderful intelligentI dont know what became of himbrilliant child called. He was a very important person. His grandparents were millionaires, the University of Miami. Well, Im going to sa y, Richter [phonetic], the Richter Library. I had Kevin Richter as my student. He was a teeny weenie devil! Tiny as they can come, and bright as anything. And he would say, Miss Sanchez, people just dont understand what sexy language you have. And I said. Ev ery one of the kids in that room took a Spanish name for the class. He wasnt ca lled Kevin, he was called Esteban. He chose Esteban, so he was called Esteban. And I used to call him, Esteban Richter, when I called the roll. Pilar Silverman? When I ca lled the roll, Pilar. They took the names of Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 33

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very, very, very special saints. Ah-ha-ha! Th ey liked it! And Kevin used to say, I love Spanish because mire maestra, el lapis, la pluma, la goma, van dentro de la cajita Can you imagine, Miss Sanchez, el lapis? Only one boy is gonna have a lot of fun with la goma, la pluma, and la cajita! Ruiz: But I do get the sense from the people weve been talking with, and with you, I think, that there was a lot of community suppor t, a lot of parental support. There were some pockets of resistance. Sanchez-Pando: There were pockets of resistance, but I told you, the support was magnificent. I have never in my life seen a PTA as those first PTAs. The things they gave the children, the parties they gave them, th e lot of love they gave them. We went to everything that existed here. The field trip s they paid for. They took those children around. They saw also how the Spanish community mothered those children that were motherless here. Saturdays and Sundays, I us ed to take sixteen to twenty kids to catechism at Saints Peter and Paul Church, with the consent of the North American parent that was housing the chil d. I would go to Mrs. Roberts and Mrs. Smiths and pick up the kids and I would take them to catech ism, to church. We would go to Key Biscayne, which was under development at th at time, with some bait and some thread, and we would fish, right there. I could take them out at night, and we would all bring a big, big towel, sit on the sand, and look up at the stars and study th e constellations, and think of the differences of move ment in the stars. And we can see this in this position here, but in Cuba you would see it in that other position. Now, if you write Mommy in your next letter, that three weeks from today were going to be here, lying on the sand, looking at the constellations. If they do the same thing over there, we could talk. We Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 34

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could look at the stars, and you could tell your Mommy and your Daddy how you miss them, and what is being done. And we di d that. And those children grew to be magnificent human beings, because they were nu rtured in love, with the love that they found in the community, and the extra love that we gave them, because most everybody that was here at the time had had some big catastrophe happen in their own family, and the empathy was enormous, because I could f eel how Esperanza was desperate to see her motherbecause I didnt have my mother ei ther here. And I also wrote my mother, Please look at the stars. We re going to be watching them. So lets see how much love we can feel that those stars are giving us. I taught them how to look at the grass, and the beauty of the flowers that hide under the gra ss. Because we had nothing. And since they had nothing because we didnt have money, we didnt have parents, nothing, nothing, everything was something empty, we had to fill it with things that were free. And when we finished lunch at Coral Way, those big groups at the very be ginning, we would go to the inner court and you eat all of your lunch, and you eat it properly, and we have five, six minutes left, we can go and sit on the gras s and watch the flower s. Oh, there are no flowers in the grass, Miss Sanchez! Oh ye s there are. Theyre very tiny. Theyre under the leaves. But you can go and see. You can see how many things that nature gives you, that are free. How many thi ngs you can enjoy, how happy you can be, with things that dont cost money, and that we can fill our lives with. Believe me, those first 5-6 years, were tremendous years, tremendous years. Another experience: I had a little boy called Raul Rodriguez. Raul was tiny also. I dont know why, the rascals were tiny. The big ones were the good ones. The little ones, ehhh. But thats it, comparing now. We had an arithmetic bee, mental arithmetic. Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 35

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Stand em all up. All right, 7 x 3 4 2. What is it? They were geniuses! We had a tie. He was the first one on th e line, we got them by sizes. And if I gave you an example and you failed it, it would go next to the othe r team. The other team had ... And it was a tie, and this one didnt know it, and Rodriguez had to untie. And I said, Next! And he said, What?! Huh?! Huh?! You werent paying attention?! The team lost. They wanted to eat him alive. And he started crying. I said, Hey, Ricardo, its not that important. You dont have to cry. He sai d, No, class, Im sorry. Again, Im sorry. But you know, its nearly three, and at three o clock and at five ocl ock, the planes that are coming from Cuba, land, and I thought, T hree oclock. Perhaps my mommy is coming in the plane that is going to land at thr ee oclock. And at 3: 30, Ill be here in the window waiting for her. Thats the kind of ch ildren we had. The kind of children that Ernesto de la Fe. His fath er was in jail in Cuba in Isla de Pinos which now is La Isla de la Juventud. And between the Isle of Pines in Cuba, and the mainland, that water there is highly highly infested by sharks. And he was a witne ss tohe was going to see his daddy, and there was commotionbecause they looked like barges, and the barge in which he was going with one of the guards, and the guard pushed the guy overboard, and he saw a shark eat the man. You could not spea k of water, of sharks, or of animals that attack man without him coming to pieces, becaus e he had seen that. They were children that were destroyed because their parents were away, or because. I had another one who could not learn how to read. He just couldnt. He would freeze. There was nothing, no way, no method th at to teach that child. And one day I said, Ay Dios mio, qu hago con este nio?. Cmo lo enseo? He turned back at me and snapped, Dont call Dios mio. There is no Dios mio. And I said, Dont say Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 36

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Coral Way, Josefina Sanchez-Pando 3/13/08, Page 37 that. Ive never seen you like that. Dont say there is no Dios No, there isnt. And I know it. And I said, All right, tell me, how do you know it? Whe n we were leaving out of my grandmothers house, I had my tw o Dobermans, and I wanted to take them with me. And those men with bayonets killed them in front of me. And I kneeled in front of them and said, Dios mio, dont let them kill my dogs! And Dios mio let them kill my dogs. So there is no Dios mio. Those were the children that we had to teach. And they were magnificent. That problem was out of the world. Ruiz: Unfortunately, we are out of time, and probably pretty close to out of tape. But I want to thank you for the interview and the hos pitality, and I think were going to have to continue thisprobably some other time, when I come back. Sanchez-Pando: Any time you want to. Ruiz: There are just too many stor ies that we need to record. Sanchez-Pando: Any time you want to. It is full, it is full. [END OF INTERVIEW]


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