The Varela Centers: An immigrant education entry program

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

John H. Croghan - Committee Chair


Immigrant education programs are a growing problem in schools throughout the United States. These programs address the language and cultural needs of immigrant children. This case study describes an emergency immigrant education program, the Varela Centers, which was created to alleviate political and educational necessities of Cuban students. These children had originally left Cuba with their parents by sea, and had later been kept at the Guantanamo Naval Base for several months before entering the United States.The purpose of this study was to describe the creation of these immigrant education centers and the experiences of the Cuban refugee children, their parents, teachers and administrators in conjunction with the centers. The study described the implementation of the program, and the opinions of the participants regarding the program's success in meeting its objectives of English language instruction and acclimatization to American society.The methods used for data collection were interview and survey. The Immigrant Program Questionnaire (IPQ) was created and translated from English into Spanish to survey the opinions of students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Data gathered from interviews were analyzed using the descriptive techniques of comparative analysis and coding categories. Survey responses were interpreted to triangulate the findings. Methods used to ensure trustworthiness in this descriptive study were member checking, peer debriefing, and negative case analysis. The validity of the IPQ was examined by a panel of experts and the instrument's translation by another panel of experts.Students, parents, teachers, and administrators indicated this immigrant education program was successful in meeting the objectives of English language instruction and acculturation of students. Adolescent students were especially helped in acculturation. Most of the opinions were exceedingly complimentary of the program, its staff, and its accomplishments.


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural; Education, Sociology of; Education, History of

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