If you are in your late forties or fifties and grew up in Minnesota, most likely your grade-school memories include Don Miguel. He was a teacher whose classroom was a television program produced in the 1960s at KTCA/Channel 2. Through it, Don Miguel introduced Spanish and the Spanish-speaking world to over 150,000 students of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest during an era when most Minnesota citizens weren't very global-minded and didn't do much traveling. Three days a week, a black-and-white television set (can you imagine figuring out how to teach colors on a black-and-white TV screen?) was rolled into school classrooms for Don Miguel's innovative show. The other two days a week, students listened and responded to audiotaped programs, monitored by their classroom teacher. Since most of the classroom teachers spoke only English, teacher manuals were provided explaining each day's program. In a given year approximately 30,000 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders registered in the program. And he could call them each by name! At that time, Don Miguel's student enrollment almost equalled the entire undergraduate count at the University of Minnesota. "Ya Hablamos Espanol" ("Now We're Speaking Spanish") was the name of this innovative course, and it became a three-year program consisting of daily teacher-to-student conversations. Don Miguel spoke only Spanish on his show, and he expected his students to respond to him only in Spanish. At the fifth-grade level, children were given workbooks in order to learn how to read in Spanish, but again, there was only Spanish presented. Over the following years, Don Miguel (Howard Hathaway) heard from many of his students telling him how they had continued to use the Spanish they had learned from him, some choosing to study it in high school and beyond. Don Miguel's students are now in their late forties and fifties, but their early experience with Spanish is a vivid memory for many of them. Don Miguel is a topic of conversation at informal gatherings and grade-school and high-school reunions. Some remember Don Miguel visiting the Twins stadium to interview famous Spanish-speaking baseball players Tony Oliva and Camilo Pascual, or they remember the live animals he brought in to teach vocabulary. Childhood songs and greetings used in the TV classroom and the dialogues of the featured dolls, Paco and Maria, continue to be sung and repeated throughout our state.
When KTCA stopped using the program, Howard Hathaway continued working with language, teaching as Supervisor of World Languages for St. Paul schools. He received the first grant for bilingual education in the state of Minnesota, and he initiated the first English as a Second Language program in the St. Paul schools, impacting the lives of thousands of Southeast Asian immigrant families. In 1986, he started the first full early language immersion program in the state of Minnesota - Adams Spanish Immersion School in St. Paul. (Full immersion programs are conducted only in the designated language so students learn to understand, and to speak and read in the target language, as well as use it to learn math, science and social studies in order to achieve full fluency.) St. Paul public schools took the lead, but now there are more than 41 immersion programs in various languages throughout the state. Adams School was the first immersion school in St. Paul, and its graduates continue their immersion learning at Highland Park junior and senior high schools. The Chinese Language and Culture program at Highland Park High School in St. Paul was established and put into place by Howard Hathaway.
The lives of thousands of students and their families have been impacted by programs brought about by the work of Howard Hathaway, aka Don Miguel. For this reason, his family believes that he should be included in Minnesota's 150-Year Celebration.
~Dorie C. Hathaway, St. Paul, MN