Born in El Salvador, Juan Araujo, Ph.D., moved to Texas in 1996 and worked as an electrical engineer for six years across the country with IBM, Eastman Kodak and Siemens AG. With encouragement from his wife, he switched careers taking a local position as an elementary bilingual teacher in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where he discovered his true calling, education. To this day, he says it was the best career move he ever made. Becoming a bilingual teacher helped him realize how much he loved to teach and work with others to reach common goals and objectives. Now he teaches tomorrow's educators specializing in literacy assessment, writing and writing instruction, preservice education, the instruction of English learners and ELA methods. He is also co-editor of the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers Yearbook.
A Conversation with Dr. Araujo
What would you tell a student who is thinking about attending A&M-Commerce?
A&M-Commerce is a place that allows students to grow as scholars, academics and future professionals. At the College of Education and Human Services, students learn to become teachers, principals, nurses, coaches and special education professionals through practical applications in local settings, including ISDs, hospitals and other settings in North Texas. First and foremost, we believe our students are at the center of what we do. We strive to make an impactful experience for them so that they can be ready upon graduation to achieve what their hearts desire.
What draws you to your discipline?
My philosophy of education is driven by the belief that one of the purposes of schooling is to facilitate students to develop over time problem-posing/solving, decision-making and other skills that prepare them for their careers and life. Students possess a curiosity and wonderment about the content they are learning. I aim to turn their curiosity into questions that directly address the objectives of the course. It is not enough to produce content expert teachers; they must also be able to distinguish between particular approaches, strategies and curriculum, and then decide for themselves what is most appropriate for their future students. Preparing literacy and its instruction professionals are essential if we are to create a just society.
What has been your favorite course to teach?
I have too many favorite courses to name just one, but I have always enjoyed teaching RDG 350, the introductory course to Literacy Instruction. It is one of my favorite courses because typically it’s one of the first professional classes undergraduates take when they come into our department. It is where they first uncover their skills and passions for the teaching profession and particularly, literacy. I love to see their faces light up when they explain the successes of a literacy strategy they attempted with a family member, neighbor or cousin.
Tell us about a project you are currently working on or recently completed
I am a co-principal investigator with Reimagining Educational Achievement Cultures in Higher Education (REACH) funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The main objective of this pilot study is to document what two- and four-year higher education institutions are doing to support students from day one through culturally relevant curriculum, mental health, motivation and a sense of belonging. Guiding questions for the REACH grant include:
- How is student success defined by various stakeholders in higher education?
- Which policies, programs, and practices within public higher education institutions in Texas are contributing to student success?
- What threats do current undergraduate students experience that impede student success?
- What opportunities exist to facilitate student success for current undergraduate students?
- To what extent are student success policies, programs and practices aligned to students' needs?
- Post.D., Extension Studies in English, Harvard University, 2017-present
- Post.D., Teacher’s College, Harassment, Bullying, Cyber Bullying and Discrimination in Schools: Prevention and Integration, Columbia University, 2017
- Post.D., School of Education, Partner in School Training, Ball State University, 2016
- Ph.D., Reading, University of North Texas, 2011
- MBE, Concentration Talented and Gifted, Southern Methodist University, 2006
- BS, Electrical Engineering and Power Systems, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1996
- Assistant Dean, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2020-present
- Associate Professor, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2018 – Present
- Assistant Department Head, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2015-present
- Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2014-2018
- Interim Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2013-2014
Awards and Honors
- Paul W. Barrus Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching (Nominated), 2020
- Distinguished Global Scholar (TAMUC), 2017
- Global Scholar, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2016
- Hispanic Leadership Award, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2016
- Honoring Faculty at Texas A&M University-Commerce (Teaching, Research, & Service), 2015
- Outstanding Doctoral Student in Reading, 2009-2010
- Writing and Its instruction
- Preservice teacher education
- Professional Development to Independent School Districts
- Harvard Circle of Dallas
- Harvard Latino Alliance
- International Society for the Advancement of Writing Research
- International Reading Association (IRA)
- Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER)
- Board of Directors, Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers
- ALER Yearbook, Co-Editor
- 57TH, 58TH, 59TH, 60TH, 61st, 62nd, 63rd Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
- Latin American Journal of Content and Language
- Literacy Research and Instruction
- Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy
- Texas Journal of Literacy Education (TALE)
- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Journal (TESOL)
- GIST Education Research Journal
RDG 350 Reading and Literacy I
RDG 528 Integrating Writing
RDG 667 Reading Processes: Theory and Implications