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Esquibels make their mark on education
(Photo courtesy: Esquibel family)

By Joshua Pilkington


The Esquibels have been educating Colorado students for decades

Editor’s Note: This week’s Hispanic Heritage Series’ focus is on the Esquibel family, educators who have contributed to Colorado students’ education and their future.

Recent education indicators show that Colorado ranks 35th in the nation in overall education. Not an overwhelming indicator of where the state has been, but certainly an indicator of grounds for improvement.

Among the six indicators which include, Chance for Success; K-12 Achievement; Standards; Assessments and Accountability; the Teaching Profession; School Finance; and Transitions and Alignment, Colorado ranks highest in Chance for Success, K-12 Achievement and Transitions and Alignment.

The Esquibel family is one Colorado family that has been rooted to education in Colorado since the 70s. Their history begins with Dr. Antonio Esquibel who began his career as a Latin and Spanish teacher at Englewood High School.

From there Esquibel has gone on to extraordinary things. In 1988 he was awarded the Hispanic Annual Salute Award, given to the Hispanic who has contributed most to Hispanics statewide, followed by the Cesar Chavez Leadership Award in 2004 for a lifetime of contributions to the Colorado Latino community.

A professor of Spanish and Chicano Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver for over nine years, Esquibel is now “retired and living the good life,” however, his greatest contribution to education in Colorado, is his lineage.

Sons Antonio Esquibel Jr. and Tomás Esquibel have taken the route of their father and found careers in education.
One area where Colorado schools are performing well is college readiness (Transitions and Alignment), coincidentally that is an area that has been a focus of Antonio Esquibel Jr. who has been in education for 18 years working in all types of schools from suburban, to rural to urban and at all levels K-12.

“Having built solid partnerships with post-secondary institutions, he understands the need in securing a strong alignment to ensure students will be college ready,” Esquibel said. “Most recently his success has come from being the principal at Abraham Lincoln High School where he led educational reform at the largest Spanish-speaking school in the state.”

Abraham Lincoln is one of 30 high schools in Denver Public Schools that last academic year had an enrollment of 1,509. Of those 1,509 students enrolled in 2013-2014, 1,403 were Hispanic (a 93 percent enrollment rate). Overall the minority enrollment at Abraham Lincoln is 97.3 percent, something that Esquibel Jr. thrives on.

“He has a strong passion for those students who have faced social barriers,” Esquibel said. “That makes him a strong advocate for all students to become college ready. He is recognized locally as an educational leader, in particular for the Latino community.”

A challenge high schools like Abraham Lincoln face is the amount of English Language Learning students enrolled at the school. For Abraham Lincoln last academic year, Abraham Lincoln had a record high of 750 ELA Students (49.7 percent of the school’s overall enrollment).

“It can be difficult for schools with that level of ELA students to excel on most standardized testing considering that standardized tests require a level of proficiency in English that can’t be gained in a year or two,” said DPS teacher Alex Nelson. “It’s a disadvantage. That’s why college prep is so important.”

And that is where Esquibel Jr. has maintained his focus as has his brother Tomás Esquibel.

The youngest Esquibel graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and earned his degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is now a Social Studies teacher at Abraham Lincoln where he teachers AP American History.





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