Carmen Gómez Tejera with Jaime Benítez, Virgilio Dávial y Alfredo Muñoz Souffront

Carmen Gómez Tejera with Jaime Benítez, Virgilio Dávial y Alfredo Muñoz Souffront

Writer and educator. Under her direction, the Department of Public Instruction (today the Department of Education) approved the first programs for teaching Spanish in the elementary and secondary schools. She was also the Department’s director of curriculum and contributed to writing textbooks.

Carmen Gómez Tejera was born in Aguadilla in 1890, the daughter of Juana Tejera and Ramón Gómez, a cabinetmaker by profession. She attended primary and secondary school in her hometown. In 1909, she earned a teaching degree at the Normal School in Río Piedras. Later, she returned to Aguadilla, where she worked as a rural teacher in the Old Fuerte de la Concepción School. She was also one of the teachers and organizers of the town’s high school.

In 1918, she was named superintendent of schools by Instruction Commissioner Paul G. Miller. Shortly thereafter, she returned to the faculty to serve as principal at the Aguadilla High School. In 1926, she moved to Río Piedras again to teach classes in the methodology of teaching Spanish at the School of Pedagogy. She also completed a bachelors and masters degree in art at the same university. Her masters thesis, La novela en Puerto Rico: apuntes para su historia, was published in 1947.

Gómez Tejera went to work once again in the Department of Public Instruction to take the post of supervisor of Spanish in 1931, during the term of Commissioner José Padín. The commissioner’s educational policy established Spanish as the language of instruction in elementary schools, instead of English, which had been the language used in the schools since the term of Commissioner Martin Brumbaugh (1901).

Under the direction of Carmen Gómez, the Programa de lengua española para las escuelas elementales (1933) Spanish curriculum was approved and published. This work was the product of research by an educational committee – of which Gómez Tejera was a member – that began developing and testing a new Spanish curriculum program for the elementary level in the late 1920s. The program included reading, poetry, oral recitation, grammar and writing. The program was used as the Spanish curriculum from 1933 until the late 1950s, when it was revised.

In collaboration with other educators, she published various works that were used as texts in the elementary schools: Manual del método de rimas para enseñar a leer en primer grado (1934); Rubén Darío: selección de verso y prosa para niños (1935); Juan Ramón Jiménez: verso y prosa para niños (1936); Rabidranath Tagore: verso y prosa para niños (1937) and Poesía puertorriqueña: antología para niños (1938).

She was also in charge of the publication of the Programa de lengua y literatura españolas para las escuelas superiores (1938), which was divided into six parts: orientation, psychology and teaching, methodology, goals, objectives and requirements, and distribution of units. After its publication, she focused on developing courses, workshops and training to teach teachers how to use both this program and the one in the elementary schools.

Carmen Gómez Tejera returned to the faculty at the University of Puerto Rico in 1940, where she taught courses in the methodology of teaching Spanish, philosophy of education and history of education. In 1948, however, she returned to the Department of Instruction after then-Commissioner Mariano Villaronga named her director of curriculum. Among her assignments was to select and organize instructional materials, a task that took on particular importance the following year when the commissioner officially established Spanish as the language of instruction at all educational levels. Once again, she organized workshops, conferences and seminars to orient and train educators in the new policies on teaching.

In 1950, she returned to teaching at the University until her retirement in 1959. However, she worked with the Department of Instruction as a consultant to the Spanish Program until 1967. During those years, she participated in the preparation of educational works such as Actividades de lengua española para principiantes (1948), in collaboration with Josefina Monserrate de Sellés; Lecturas de historia y filosofía de la educación (1954), in collaboration with América González de Gregorich and Lloyd Suttell; Poesía puertorriqueña para la escuela secundaria (1955), along with María Losada and Jorge Luis Porras Cruz; Por el mundo del cuento y la aventura, a series of basic reading texts created in collaboration with Angeles Pastor and Rosa Guzmán; Por el mundo de la palabra, a series of elementary school language texts created along with Jorge Luis Porras Cruz, Ana María Losada and Enrique A. Laguerre.

Gómez Tejera also published articles on cultural and pedagogical topics in La Revista Escolar de Puerto Rico, Isla, Revista de la Asociación de Mujeres Graduadas (an association of which she was a founding member) and Brújula, the official publication of the Spanish Teachers Circle, of which she was one of the founders in 1937.

Among the honors she received were the titles of Professor Emeritus of Pedagogy from the University of Puerto Rico (1959) and Woman of Puerto Rico, an honor awarded by the Association of Graduates of the University of Puerto Rico.

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: February 19, 2010.

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