Friday, August 18, 2006

Los Kineños: The Romanticized Version

Born to be an educator

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2006 10:35 AM CDT
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Roel Quintanilla, Principal at J.C. Harmon High School, was raised on the famous King Ranch in southern Texas. The beginning’s of the King Ranch is told on their web page:

“There was a terrible drought in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Captain King traveled to the little hamlet of Cruillas in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

“The townspeople were in such dire straits that they sold all of their cattle to him in an attempt to survive the drought. A short distance out of town, slowly driving the cattle north toward Texas, Captain King realized that, in solving an immediate problem for the people of Cruillas, he had simultaneously removed their long-term means of livelihood. He turned his horse back toward the town and made its people a proposition. He would provide them with food, shelter and income if they would move and come to work on his ranch. The townspeople conferred and many of them agreed to move north with Captain King.

“Already expert stockmen and horsemen, these resilient denizens of the rugged Mexican range became known as Los Kinenos - King's people. They and many generations of their heirs would go on to weave a large portion of the historical tapestry of King Ranch. The expert Kineno cowboys now occupy a justifiably legendary place in the annals of the taming of the vast American West. The mystique of the Kinenos is alive and well, and descendants of the original Cruillas residents still live and work on the ranch today - providing a vital link with the past and giving the ranch a key aspect of its unique atmosphere.”

The vastness of the huge ranch on which he lived seems to have given him a wish to know more about the world. He would later turn his attention to being an educator. A definition of an educator is: to demonstrate a commitment to creating new knowledge, to applying knowledge to solving problems to synthesize various strands of knowledge, and to understanding how students learn.

The first 18 years of his life Roel Quintanilla spent in south Texas. He grew up and worked on the King Ranch, as did his parents and family. He attended schools on the ranch property that had students who were predominately Hispanic. After high school Quintanilla decided to go to the university in nearby Kingsville. He was planning to become a teacher.

Mr. Quintanilla completed his college education at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas after his military service. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science/ American history and his master’s degree in educational administration. He spent 27 years employed by the Wichita school district serving as a middle school level social studies teacher and then on up the ranks from assistant principal at that same middle school to assistant principal at three of the district’s high schools to finally serving as principal at Wichita High School North until his retirement in June of 2003.

Not ready to be relegated to a rocking chair just yet he traveled from Wichita north to Kansas City to become an assistant principal, which led to his present position of principal at J C Harmon High School.

When asked if his first year as Principal of J.C. Harmon High School was as expected, he said:

“The first year as principal at Harmon High School was exciting, rewarding and challenging. The expected challenges were those that larger urban schools typically encounter. Time was spent getting acquainted with the students, parents, and staff in order to better understand the strengths of the system and also the needs as identified by those served. Many partnerships have been forged with parent groups and the community as a whole. The welcome that was received at Harmon High School was warm and inviting. It has been a joy to serve the Harmon Community.”

Mr. Quintanilla makes the following suggestions to parents so that their students can be successful in a high school setting.

  • Daily attendance is extremely important. Parents need to ensure that their students are in class everyday and that absences be allowed only under rare circumstances.

  • Completion of all schoolwork is a responsibility of the student. Parents need to check with their student, the teachers, and attend parent conferences to ensure that the student is being successful in the classroom. If the parent does not ask the question, no one else will.

  • Limit the amount of time that students work after school. Students often report to school exhausted because they are trying to attend a full day of school and work 6 or 7 hours at a job as well.

  • Participation in school activities and other extracurricular activities are very important for a well-rounded student. This is the place where skills learned in the classroom are put into practice.

  • Monitor where your student goes and whom they are friends with. Get to know your student’s friends and their parents as well. The influence of a peer is a very powerful force.

  • Make sure that the students are reading for pleasure.

    Roel Quintanilla, like many other students, experienced financial difficulties while attending the university. He decided to take a hiatus from higher education in 1968 to join the U. S. Air Force which allowed him to take advantage of the G I bill. This experience led him to a three-year tour of duty overseas. He spent time in England, Spain, and Turkey as a supply agent supporting the F150 aircraft and then being finally stationed in Wichita, Kansas where he stayed for many years to follow. Upon his honorable discharge he returned to the university to complete his degrees.

    Note: On Web page the book Valor & Discord (Mexican Americans and the Vietnam War) is available. Forty years after Among the Valiant was published, second-generation Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam veteran, Eddie Morin, chronicles the heroism demonstrated in combat by Mexican-Americans. The social upheaval that clouded the purpose of supreme sacrifice is in the backgrounds of interviews with hundreds of these brave and valiant heroes.

    All the passion that the reader experienced with Raul Morin’s Among the Valiant is re-lived with son Eddie Morin’s vivid accounts of the first-person experiences that these Vietnam War veterans shared. Valor & Discord serves as a catharsis for the veterans who returned with feelings of confusion and disenfranchisement. A must read for social historians.

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