UTPA lauds TBEC Honor Roll schools at banquet
By Jennifer Berghom, Public Affairs Representative
(956) 665-2741
Posted: 03/31/2011
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The University of Texas-Pan American joined the Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) in celebrating "the best of the best" school districts in South Texas Wednesday, March 30 at the UTPA Ballroom.

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The University of Texas-Pan American and the Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) honored 26 South Texas schools for being named to the TBEC 2010 Honor Roll and Dr. John Edwards, former UTPA Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services, for receiving UTPA's Bridge Builder Award Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Pictured from left to right are: Dr. Orbry Holden, TBEC director of business and education outreach; Jack Damron, executive director of Region One Education Service Center; Edwards; Dr. Martha Cantu, acting vice president for UTPA's Division of Student Affairs; Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA provost; and Michael L. McGuire, a member of TBEC's coordinating committee.

TBEC's Honor Roll is among the most prestigious awards school districts can receive, because the coalition reviews academic performance of campuses over a three-year period and only considers schools that perform at the state's highest standard — commended — in all subjects.

"They're the best of the best," said Dr. Orbry Holden, TBEC's director of business and education outreach.

Of the 259 schools throughout the state accepted into the honor roll, 26 were from South Texas, which includes the Corpus Christi area to the Rio Grande Valley.

"We're really proud of Valley schools because as far as the Hispanic community you all probably have the best representation of any Hispanic group in the state," Holden said.

It was also a special night for UTPA, as Dr. John Edwards, former Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services, received the University's Bridge Builder Award for his work in helping students attain higher education.

In his acceptance speech, Edwards praised the educators for their dedication to their students, even amid pending funding cuts in public education from the state.

"The students you serve today will be better prepared for our university halls tomorrow. We cannot honor you enough ... and in today's atmosphere in Texas where public education is under attack and, unfortunately, under the knife, this event comes at a great time," Edwards said.

Educating children takes a concerted effort from educational institutions, businesses and other interested partners. The success of the South Texas schools honored by TBEC and UTPA, as well as the continuing increases in student enrollment in and completion of college are the result of such cooperation, Edwards said.

Giving the keynote address was children's author René Saldaña, who has written novels for young people that depict life in Mexican American communities. His latest work, "A Good Long Way," follows the troubled lives of three teenagers in deep South Texas. Saldaña's other books include "The Case of the Pen Gone Missing/El Caso de la Pluma Perdida" and "The Whole Sky Full of Stars."

Saldaña, a Rio Grande Valley native, lives in Lubbock and teaches in the College of Education at Texas Tech University.

TBEC was formed in 1989 by Texas business leaders to work with educators in improving education in the state, according to the coalition's website.

The Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) 2010 Honor Roll Schools of South Texas are:

Bishop ISD: Bishop Primary School

Brownsville ISD: Solomon P. Ortiz Elementary School, Dr. America Paredes Elementary School, Annie S. Putegnat Elementary School

Calallen ISD: East Elementary School, Calallen Wood River Elementary School

Corpus Christi ISD: Mireles Elementary School, Windsor Park Gifted & Talented School

Edinburg CISD: Canterbury Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Norma Linda Treviño Elementary School

George West ISD: George West Primary School

Harlingen CISD: Bowie Elementary School

IDEA Public Schools: IDEA Frontier College Preparatory

McAllen ISD: Gonzalez Elementary School, Ben Milam Elementary School

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD: North San Juan Elementary School

San Isidro ISD: San Isidro Elementary School

Sharyland ISD: Jessie L. Jensen Elementary School, Lloyd & Dolly Bentsen Elementary School, Rubén Hinojosa Elementary School

South Texas ISD: Science Academy of South Texas

United ISD: Trautmann Elementary School

Valley View ISD: Wilbur E Lucas Elementary School

Weslaco ISD: Airport Elementary School, Memorial Elementary School.

For more information on TBEC, visit its website.