April 14, 2000

Mexican Educator Visits Grossmont College in First Fulbright Administrator Exchange

El Cajon — Mexican educator, Higinio Ordoñez Suarez, is spending six weeks learning the community college system at Grossmont College as a participant in the first Fulbright Administrators Exchange between the United States and Mexico.

Last November, Ordoñez hosted one of Grossmont College's vice presidents for six weeks at his college in Atla-comulco, about 75 miles from Mexico City. Now Ordoñez is at Grossmont through April 14 to learn from college administrators, faculty and students.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to exchange and share ideas with Higinio Ordoñez about our respective educational systems," said Dr. Ted Martinez, Jr., Grossmont College president. "This first exchange between administrators will provide a foundation that will benefit our students and faculty through new understanding and cooperation between the colleges."

Ordoñez is Subdirector Académico (Chief Instructional Officer) at Escuela Normal de Atlacomulco (Teachers Training College). He has been at Escuela Normal for ten years and his current position since 1997.

The institution belongs to a statewide educational system with 37 teacher-training colleges that prepare instructors for kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. His college has classrooms teaching children of all grade levels that also function as training labs for student teachers. Ordoñez said the state determines the number fo teachers trained each year. Each graduate is guaranteed a teaching position in the state system.

"I have learned that community colleges play an important part in this country's educational process because they offer everyone the same opportunity to achieve their goals," said Ordoñez. "As educators, we strive to help our students succeed and reach their goals. At Grossmont, there are interesting projects I want to incorporate into my school in Mexico. Grossmont students have improved in math due to the access to the math computer lab and an effective tutoring program. I am impressed with Grossmont's writing and reading centers that enable students to develop their basic skills. These are examples of approaches we can use to improve our students' math and language skills."

Ordoñez was born in Atlacomulco into a family of eight children. He first trained as a primary school teacher there. He earned his bachelor' degree in history from the State of Mexico University and his master's degree from the State of Mexico Superior Teachers Training College.

He studied English at the University of Texas and at the University of California Berkeley. He earned a Secondary English Teaching degree from the State of Mexico University. He has taught for more than 16 years, from kindergarten to university, including a year in London teaching Spanish.

Ordoñez and his exchange partner, Peter White, Grossmont College's vice president of Students Services, are working on several projects to foster the goals of the Fulbright Administrators Exchange —to develop a better understanding and cooperation between educators from both countries. The projects include faculty exchanges for workshops with some Grossmont faculty attending May workshops in Mexico followed by faculty from Escuela Normal visiting here next fall. They are also working on an exchange of students from each college.

"This has been an excellent opportunity for me to meet and exchange ideas with my colleagues. We all have the same hope to provide a better education for our students," said Ordoñez. "This exchange experience is the best education we can give our students and teachers."

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