The Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies
Thanks to the generosity of more than 50 alumni and friends over the past two years, Sidwell Friends is pleased to announce that the Señora Guillermina Medrano de Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies has been fully funded. As an endowed position, this chair becomes a permanent addition to the Upper School faculty, ensuring that a gifted educator with expansive expertise in the fields of Spanish and Latin American studies will always be available to offer direction on pedagogy, curriculum, and faculty and student recruitment.
Now that the position is fully endowed, the School begins its search for the inaugural chair—someone who embodies the best in secondary school education, just as Señora Supervía did.
For many alumni who learned from Señora Supervía during the 32 years she taught at Sidwell Friends, contributing to this endowed fund was a way to both honor a beloved educator and ensure future students could experience the life-changing impact of their own “Señora.” Alan Bernstein ’59 made the challenge gift to an endowment for a faculty chair named in honor of Señora and led a committee of volunteers in securing the gifts that would transform this idea into a reality.
“What began as an alumni effort motivated by a desire to honor our late Spanish teacher gained support in the wider Sidwell community,” Alan Bernstein said, reflecting on the surge of generosity in the past few months. “The Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies will steer the Upper School curriculum toward important educational goals relating to Spanish and Latin American language, history, and culture.”
Once a faculty member is appointed, the Señora Guillermina Medrano de Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies will be a primary resource for faculty and staff who are developing academic courses and enrichment programs relating to the study of the Spanish language and Latin American history, art, and culture.
Upper School principal Mamadou Guèye looks forward to the influence the chair will have on Upper School Spanish courses and Latin American studies. “First and foremost, I see the chair connecting the dots between Latin American history and an already robust Spanish language and literature program,” Guèye said. “With their guidance, we can be more intentional with how we build an interdisciplinary Spanish and Latin American studies program.”
And as with the proposed African and African American Studies Chair, for which parents and alumni are currently raising endowed funds, Guèye anticipates that this chair will better enable faculty to teach Latin American Studies from a Latin American perspective, rather than European. “This is an important step in decolonizing our curriculum, which we need to do to incorporate voices and histories that are often excluded,” Guèye said.
Natalie Randolph, director of Equity, Justice, and Community (EJC), concurs. “One of the key goals in our EJC strategic plan is to critically evaluate our curriculum and make sure that we are incorporating multiple perspectives,” Randolph said. “The Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies will ensure that students of all divisions are introduced to Latin American perspectives.”
The influence of the Señora Guillermina Medrano de Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies will extend beyond curriculum development, Randolph added. “When we have an expert on Hispanic and Latin American issues, we will turn to this person as a member of our all-school EJC team to advise on a variety of issues,” she said.
This includes supporting the recruitment of Latinx and Hispanic faculty and students; offering guidance about how best to create appropriate cultural programming across the divisions, including Hispanic and Latin American celebrations and observations; and acting as a resource for student affinity groups.
To augment the work of the chair, the School is concurrently forming an advisory committee for Spanish and Latin American Studies, composed of volunteers with expertise in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the Sidwell Friends community. The goals of this committee include: promoting opportunities for Spanish and Latin American history and culture throughout the curriculum and School community; providing engagement activities for both Spanish and Latin American alumni and the broader community; and encouraging admission applications from the Spanish and Latin American communities in the Washington, DC area.
With the search beginning in earnest, the School hopes to celebrate the naming of the inaugural Señora Guillermina Medrano de Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies in the spring.
Click here to learn more about the campaign to honor Señora Guillermina Medrano de Supervía and her impact on generations of Sidwell Friends students.
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