Loretta Salazar

Loretta Salazar
2017 Distinguished Retired Faculty

Loretta Salazar’s career as a leader in bilingual education spans 40 years. Her tenure with the Highlands School of Education was from 1992 – 2013, when she directed the Bilingual Education Program and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) Program.

“Bilingual education is at the very heartbeat of our New Mexico children. This includes Spanish as well as native languages. It’s really important that we nourish this essential part of a child’s life,” Salazar said.

She said exposure to other languages and cultures develops tolerance, understanding and appreciation for other perspectives.

“Bilingual education also has other important impacts. New Mexico is poised to be a front-runner in producing bilingual and biliterate citizens who can contribute to the state’s economy,” said the Taos native whose first language was Spanish.

Salazar earned a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction in multicultural teacher education from the University of New Mexico, where she also completed her M.A. in Spanish.

Some leadership highlights include co-authoring Prueba, the New Mexico Spanish proficiency exam for bilingual teachers, and serving as president for the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education.

Salazar began her education career as a high school Spanish and English Language Arts teacher.

“Teaching always offered me tremendous joy, satisfaction and fulfillment. I loved my students whether they were in high school or Highlands. They were young souls searching and wanting to learn, maturing right before my eyes. I felt so privileged to share those moments with them,” Salazar said.

Salazar, who achieved Highlands education professor emerita status, said her biggest accomplishment is seeing her students succeed.

She said among her best memories of Highlands was being part of faculty teams that took students on study abroad Spanish immersion trips to Granada, Spain, and Oaxaca and Veracruz, Mexico.

“These international experiences opened the world to our students, expanding their own living language beyond Las Vegas,” Salazar said.

Salazar presented at dozens of state, national and international education conferences. She co-authored textbooks such as Placement Package for Heritage Learners in 2004 and is co-authoring a chapter in the upcoming textbook, Standing on Their Shoulders: the History of Bilingual Education in New Mexico.  

Salazar has been named for various honors, including 2003 Bilingual Professor of the Year for the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education. In 2014, NMABE recognized her with the Matías Chacón Award for statewide contributions to bilingual education.

“Dr. Salazar’s knowledge and experience in bilingual education is second to none in the state,”  said Patricia Jimenez-Latham, a senior associate with Highlands’ Center for Education and Study of Diverse Populations who nominated Salazar for the Highlands award. “She continually fights for what is right, reaching out to ensure otherwise silenced voices in our communities are heard.”

Since retiring, Salazar continues to be a strong voice for education with organizations like the Coalition for the Majority, which advocates for New Mexico’s linguistically and culturally diverse students.

“This advocacy is critical to the well-being of education in our state. We must always be vigilant about what our education officials are proposing,” Salazar said.