All posts by Montserrat Oyanedel-Tolmo

The “Monster of Immigration”

On September 5, the Trump Administration announced it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has provided temporary relief from deportation, as well as work authorization, to more than 800,000 young immigrants who came to the United States as children. The ripple effects on immigrants across the nation, including those here in our own community, include heightened fear, increased isolation, and withdrawal from daily life, keeping children from school and parents from work.

Motivated by a deep desire to speak up and explain to our community what it means to be an immigrant in this xenophobic climate, English Language Learners (ELLs) students seized the opportunity to create an art project for this year’s Paseo Project 2017 event.  Students  explored the notion of “The Monster of Immigration”.  The students began their study by having an in-depth conversation about what immigration means to them. Using the metaphor of a “monster”, students answered questions put forth by the Paseo Project’s STEAM Monster Design Challenge: What does it look like? Where does it live? How does it grow? What do you want to tell it? How does it lose its power?  Themes of  ignorance, distrust, inequality, economic uncertainty, and discrimination arose. They then  began to work on solutions to these issues.  

Our immigrant students envisioned the “monster” as a wall holding back a huge fire breathing dragon, held by the ignorance, hate, racism, and ignorance of humanity. And, yet, they saw that within the fire, is a transformative power, an ability to overcome the horrors of injustice and inequality. The fire turns to a golden aura and orange butterflies emerge from the fire to symbolize this potential evolution. Each scale is a tiny piece of fabric that they sewed on, the fire flames are each  carefully hand-cut, the butterflies were hand knitted or made paper and painted, and the “wall” was constructed from old slats from blinds. The end result of their process is a beautiful tapestry that symbolizes the fears and negative implications of immigration and the beauty of solutions that can develop with increased education and an open mind.  

The tapestry will be displayed along the John Dunn shop walkway, between Amina’s Children’s Boutique and Leatherwerks. There will be an open comment book for members of the community to express their feelings around immigration or to communicate any messages they would like our immigrant students to read.

The ELL students at TECC- UNM Taos are learning not only English, but also that civic engagement is vital to their education and success in life. The Federal legislation that governs and funds Adult Education to offer ELL classes is now called Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE), and requires that all ELL participate in gaining skills for meaningful participation in their communities. The “Monster of Immigration” tapestry, along with it’s display at Paseo, is one way in which members of our immigrant students are sharing their perspectives and voices with the larger Taos community. Art is one medium that can overcome cultural and language barriers. TECC-UNM Taos plans to find a permanent display for the tapestry or stop by 115 Civic Plaza Dr to view it at the school.

Students Names: Alejandro Cordova, Laura Jiménez, María Elsa Caraveo, Patricia Romo, María Rodríguez, José Garduño, Nancy Garduno, Maria Elena Ortega, Rosa Martinez, Gabriella Morales, Angela Morales, Rosita Martinez, Laura Dominguez, Karla Guerrero, Alicia Rivera, María Castillo, Marcella Cisneros, Yosael Mejía and John Cordova.

TECC Instructors: Edie Buchanan, Esther Tipton and Montserrat Oyanedel-Tolmo.


New Student Orientation on August 14th

We are getting ready for the next Student Orientation at the Taos Education & Career Center.

For students interested in attending High School Equivalency classes, the orientation will be on August 14th at 9:00 am at 115 Civic Plaza Drive. For students interested in English as a Second Language, the orientation will take place the same day during the evening at 5:00 pm.  Please come and learn about our services! We offer great classes free of cost.

Everybody is invited!

If you have any questions, please call us at 575-737-3730 or email us at For information in Spanish please call at 575-7799299.

We are looking forward hearing from you!


TECC HSE Graduation 2017

Congratulations Class of 2017!

We would like to congratulate our students for their hard work and commitment during this year. We honored them during the UNM-TAOS Commencement Ceremony on May 11th, 2017 at 6:00 PM. The event took place at the Sagebrush Inn and Conference Center in Taos, New Mexico. This year, for the first time the High School Equivalency students had their our graduation. TECC had 52 graduates this year!

We would like to acknowledge the teachers, staff and administrative team at UNM-Taos that worked hard to make this event unforgettable and special for everybody. In addition, we would like to congratulate our incredible team for supporting and encouraging our students to reach their goals.

Dear students we wish you the best in all your future endeavors!



Bilingual book honored

A bilingual novel, Los Primos y el Pez Mágico/The Cousins and the Magic Fish, created by two people connected to TECC, was named second runner-up for the Zia Award announced by the New Mexico Press Women at it’s annual spring conference in April.

Joan Livingston, an instructor at TECC, is the author, and Teresa Dovalpage, a member of TECC’s board and a former ESL teacher, is the translator. Joan’s son, Ezra Livingston is the illustrator.

The novel tells a story familiar to many New Mexicans about a story-telling abuelo providing after-school care to his grandchildren who are cousins. An excursion to the river and encounter with a talking fish, leads grandpa to an opportunity to advocate for a simple life filled with family.

“I was inspired by my love of reading as a child when I wrote this novel,” said Joan Livingston. “I aimed to create a book that would appeal to children whose first language in Spanish or English. As residents of Northern New Mexico, Teresa and I also wanted this novel, the first in a series, to be relevant to children in our state and beyond.”


TECC has a New English as a Second Language Teacher

We are glad to announce that TECC has a new faculty member, Esther Tipton. She is the new English Language and Civics Education teacher, and she will be teaching the beginner and intermediate classes to those seeking to improve their English speaking, reading, and writing.

Esther has experience teaching English in the United States and abroad. Her cross-cultural teaching experiences span from New Papua Guinea to South Korea.  In the U.S., she has been a teacher and administrator in diverse array of k-12 and adult education programs. She also has experience developing curriculum and implementing technology in the classroom.  Her focus will be supporting our immigrant population and developing innovative pathways leading to career development and civic engagement.

We are excited to have her expertise in our team!



High School Equivalency Graduation 2017

We cordially invite you to attend the 2017 High School Equivalency graduation.
Join us to celebrate the hard work and achievements of our students. This year, for the first time, the High School Equivalency (HSE) students will have a graduation ceremony separate from the UNM-Taos graduates. Due to being over the room capacity at the Sagebrush, we found it necessary to separate the ceremony into the two sections. For this reason, it is more important than ever to attend and show your support- let’s fill the room and send a strong message that this is an achievement that does not go unnoticed by our community at large.
Date: Thursday, May 11th
Time: 5:30pm
Where: Sagebrush Conference Center
The keynote speaker will be former executive director of the Taos Community Foundation, Elizabeth Crittenden-Palacios. In addition, there will be several student speakers sharing their journey and words of wisdom.
We look forward to seeing you there and appreciate your support.