Featured Faculty: Dr. Katherine Richardson Bruna

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Meet our next featured faculty member, Dr. Katherine Richardson Bruna!


I owe my interest in the Spanish language and Latino/a history and culture to a teacher who gave me and my fifth-grade classmates the option of taking an elective course over our lunch period. That early exposure generated a continuing passion, fueled by a high school Amigos de las Americas exchange program to Costa Rica and a college semester abroad in Spain. With a degree in Spanish language and literature from Vassar College, I went to work as a bilingual instructional aide in an elementary classroom in West Sacramento, California. Working primarily with the children of Mexican immigrant families, this experience turned my attention to the sociolinguistic context of the US Southwest and spurred my graduate work at the University of California, first in applied linguistics and then in sociocultural studies. Because I have served as an evaluator of a statewide professional development institute for teachers of bilingual learners, I, in joining the ISU faculty, welcomed the opportunity to bring this lens to the demographically-transitioning communities of Iowa. My son was six-years-old at the time of the move and had never had academic instruction in English since he had attended a Spanish immersion program in California.  In navigating with teachers the pull-out services he was receiving due to poor performance on standardized tests, I gained personal insight into the experiences of bilingual learners in schools that continues to motivate my commitment to linguistically diverse youth and families and the preparation of responsive teachers. Since arriving at ISU in 2003, this work has taken me to Cuba, Mexico and to Ecuador, where a Spanish-language version of an informal science education curriculum, developed through a National Institutes of Health grant, is in pilot implementation.