El Colegio is a small public high school in Minneapolis (Bloomington Avenue and 42nd Street) that has been serving students in English and Spanish since 2000. In 2019, Executive Director Norma C. Garcés was awarded a Bush Fellowship, so she will be leaving the school to pursue further education, while Katie Groh de Aviña steps in as the new executive director.
Garcés, in her position at El Colegio for the past nine years, created a culturally rich environment from which, for the past five years, 100 percent of students have been accepted into post-secondary educational institutions. Her dream is that the Minnesota educational system will be one in which “Latinx students see themselves in their teachers, learning is relevant to their experiences and dreams, and they are safe to express themselves and their culture.” As a trusted leader within the Latinx community, she wants to scale the experience of El Colegio to communities across the state. During the two years of her Bush Fellowship she will study for a master’s degree, get executive leadership training, and develop skills in community engagement, cross-cultural communication, finance and public speaking.
Groh de Aviña comes to El Colegio after having most recently served as one of the directors at Academia Cesar Chavez in Saint Paul. She has many years of leadership, experience and knowledge in charter school management and cultural competency in education. She will take the reins in January just after winter break.
Groh de Aviña has worked with the Latinx community for 20 years in multiple capacities, and has always believed in the potential of all her students. She is excited to continue the mission and the vision of El Colegio with preparing our youth to be agents of change wherever their path leads them. “El Colegio has a created environment and space safe for all learners to be successful! I want to build on that and make sure more youth know about El Colegio when they are selecting their high school!”
The school is a very close-knit community where people know each other well. Students develop the necessary skills to be comfortable and to excel in a bilingual, bicultural world.
On its website, El Colegio describes its vision, aspirations and goals as follows:
Mission: In community, El Colegio honors and builds upon the talents of bilingual students and their diverse families to provide the academic rigor, leadership skills, career preparation, and community connections necessary to fulfill their potential as change makers.
Vision: Communities worldwide are transformed by the El Colegio experience of liberation.
Core Values: In community, we foster a space for healing and liberation through these values:
Identity: We support our youth and their families in recognizing and embracing their own unique histories, cultures, and languages.
Solidarity: We recognize that we all live in connection with each other; we must honor and support our youth to honor and embrace our communities.
Intellect: Success in life and community change requires critical thinking and a deeper level of consciousness.
Justice: We pursue our work not solely for the individual benefit of the youth and families we serve, but because we believe their role is critical in securing equity and opportunity for all members of society.