Adams State Teacher Education Professor committed to professional development

(02-23-2009)

Adams State Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Sheryl Ludwig said she is grateful for opportunities to pursue her passion in work, the community and professional development.

For over ten years, Ludwig has presented her research and papers at the American Education Research Association and the American Anthropological Association. She is currently co-chair of the Indigenous Education, a subcommittee of the Council of Anthropology and Education. "I believe it is important to keep current in areas of professional concern."

She taught in the public school system for 31 years before returning to school to earn her doctorate. Ludwig said it is important to pay attention to the social factors that influence how students learn and teachers teach.

While attending University of Colorado in Boulder, Ludwig framed her doctoral dissertation with sociocultural theory. She said she always was interested in social factors and how they apply to learning and teaching. This led her to live in Guatemala for a year and learn to weave. "I wanted to experience first-hand what it was like to learn in a community of practice. My teachers were Maya women who had little or no formal education, but from them I learned about creating sources of motivation, creativity, and problem-solving. The experience made me love indigenous language and cultures."

As a professor of both graduate and undergraduate students, Ludwig said her experience and continuing research is passed along to her students. "I help them learn about indigenous students; they are all going to have them." She said she wants to improve in-service and pre-service students' sensitivity when they work with diverse children.

Besides staying current in her area of interest, Ludwig said she continues to learn from contacts within the San Luis Valley immigration community. "There are over 400 or more Guatemalan families living in Alamosa. Understanding their culture and perspective helps to improve retention rate in high school and increase admission to higher education institutions. The Guatemalan parents want their children to be successful and receive opportunities that may not be available to them in their native countries."

"I love indigenous language and cultures. Diversity is not going away. Teachers can do much to reach their immigrant population by talking with their students. That is a simple little thing, and is the ultimate form of respect."

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By Linda Relyea