In June, a Robstown teacher was selected to attend a prestigious professional development institute in Austin sponsored by Humanities Texas in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.

Olivia Escochea, who teaches English language arts at Robstown High School, participated in “Teaching the American Literary Tradition,” which took place from June 18–21 on the UT Austin campus.

The institute focused on topics and skills central to the state's high school English language arts curriculum. Topics included the American Renaissance, the literature of the Civil War era and the Gilded Age, the Harlem Renaissance, American writing during the World Wars, contemporary American fiction and poetry and how American life has been portrayed in not only literature but also music, drama, television and film. 

Distinguished scholars from universities across the nation worked with teachers to improve the quality of classroom teaching in Texas. The institute offered dynamic presentations, probing discussions and focused seminars in which scholars and teachers developed strategies for engaging students. Author Oscar Cásares read from and discussed his work with teachers at an evening event during the program.

“I've attended four Humanities Texas professional development programs,” commented Escochea, “and they always bring in presenters who are experts in their field of work to help teachers keep the creative juices flowing in the classroom.”

“Humanities Texas was pleased to cosponsor the Austin institute,” said Executive Director Michael L. Gillette. “Giving talented teachers the opportunity to interact with their peers and leading scholars will enable them to engage students with exciting new resources and perspectives on our nation’s literary history.”

“Teaching the American Literary Tradition” was made possible with support from the State of Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Humanities Texas is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its mission is to advance education through programs that improve the quality of classroom teaching, support libraries and museums and create opportunities for lifelong learning for all Texans.

For more information about Humanities Texas, visit