Students around the globe benefit from Alvarez’ dedication to education
Article by Danielle Qunitana
From the Philippines, to China, to Alamosa, Dr. Anicia Alvarez spreads inspiration and education across the world. An Adams State University Teacher Education Department Assistant Professor, Alvarez grew up in the Philippines which showed her "what it is like to have and not to have." She has spent much of her career in education helping those in the "have not" end.
After obtaining graduate degrees in science education, early childhood education, development management and a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree, Alvarez returned to her hometown and established a school, the Hansel and Gretel School for Children, in 1996. She developed and designed a curriculum that focused on the multiple potentials of children. She believes students have multiple intelligences and the school curriculum should harness and develop these intelligences through experiential learning, creative dance and physical movements, local ethnic music and art. The school has since then expanded to elementary, secondary, and special education to cater to students with special needs.
According to Alvarez, the Philippine school system is slightly different from that of the United States. In her school, students in grades 11th and 12th, complete a curriculum that allows them to earn a certificate of proficiency in vocational education. "This track is beneficial for students who cannot afford to continue on to higher education degree courses," Alvarez said. This certificate provides them with vocational training in jobs like food technology, textiles and dressmaking, computer technician, service hospitality, hairdressing, and other entry-level jobs. Unlike students in the United States, Filipino students do not have 'financial aid' to help them obtain higher education degrees. "Other students who continue to enroll in university courses like engineering, commerce & accountancy, nursing, education, benefit from this same curriculum track in that they learn practical life skills in addition to the rigorous academic subjects needed to pass college entrance examinations," Alvarez added.
In 2002, Alvarez expanded her school to the nearby-islands in southern Philippines to help the children of local ethnic groups. She also opened a school in China, Wisdom Tree International School House, a multiple intelligence school where Chinese children learn English and Mandarin using their multiple MI strengths coupled with their rich Chinese culture. With the help of her two daughters, all of her schools are successful.
While she continues to be dedicated to the schools in China and the Philippines, Alvarez enjoys working with pre-service students at Adams State. "I am a life-long learner and I know there is more to learn about teaching and learning from my fellow colleagues, pre-service students, and teachers in the local schools."
Professor of Teacher Education Department, Dr. Linda Christian describes Alvarez as competent and skilled with many talents that benefit students and professors. "Her world-view is valuable for our students. As someone who has started and administered schools around the world she brings a wealth of knowledge and depth of understanding. Her reflective nature and insights often make us think much more deeply about our work. Dr. Alvarez's keen intellect, wisdom, sharp wit and energetic spirit make her a joy to work with. She is truly one of the most amazing professionals I have had the privilege to work with here at ASU."
Kurt Carey, teacher education associate chair, also enjoys working with Alvarez. "She is always smiling and positive in nature. She is very strong in her content areas and well respected by students and faculty alike."
Alvarez grew up on a farm that contributed to her strong interest in science and the environment. Her family owns a plantation planted with corn and coconut. She played with the children of the workers and has wonderful memories of her childhood surrounded with flowers, fruits, rivers, and multi-ethnic friends. "If you have a happy childhood, you'll live a happy life," Alvarez said. Her childhood influenced her aspirations to further her education and the education of many others around the world. "The value of education has been planted on us. Education is the key."