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Awarding an exchange of knowledge: Local organization’s partnership with Harvard University recognized

October 11, 2016 GMT

MERCEDES — Dr. Mary Alice Reyes returned from Boston this summer with Valley teachers who had graduated with a master’s degree from Harvard’s math for teaching graduate program.

Reyes, the executive director of the Texas Graduate Center by then had developed a strong partnership with Harvard University’s Extension School.

Now the Texas Graduate Center and Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education are UPCEA’s Regional 2016 Engagement Award recipients.

This award recognizes an outstanding partnership of a member institution with one or more external constituents such as local communities, corporations, schools or organizations.

The award comes from the Leaders in Professional, Continuing and Online Education Association’s New England regional group.

The regional association will celebrate recipients of all awards at this year’s Awards Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 27 during the 2016 New England Region Conference in Newport, Rhode Island.

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Since 2013, the Texas Graduate Center has been working with MATHTEACH Collaborative partners in training Valley math teachers through online and distance learning with a direct connection to Harvard’s classroom instruction.

More than 20 Valley math teachers from the Texas Graduate Center program have been teaching Harvard math knowledge, training and concepts into their classrooms, and inspiring students that it’s possible to aspire to and attain a Harvard education.

“We are humbled and honored to be recipients of the UPCEA Regional 2016 Engagement Award in recognition of the partnership between the Texas Graduate Center and the Harvard University Extension School Math for Teaching Graduate Program,” Reyes said.

Harvard’s reach in the exchange of knowledge and resources has stretched the entire Valley and touches hundreds of students daily during math classes.

“Region One GEAR UP and our school district partners’ support has been instrumental to the success of the program,” Reyes said. “We accept this award on behalf of our partners, the teachers who made history as our first Harvard Class of 2016 graduates and the teachers who are currently enrolled in the program.”

Reyes said the Texas Graduate Center is the first organization to offer a cohort model in the Math for Teachers Masters Degree program at Harvard.

And every day, after the last school bell rings, teachers from around the Valley travel to the Texas Graduate Center in Mercedes to connect to a live Harvard math class.

And in the summer, they travel to Harvard for a summer school residency to complete the requirements of the three-year degree program.

Reyes said a very important part of the partnership with Harvard is the professional development sessions offered for math teachers from across the Valley.

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“We wanted to bring Harvard’s knowledge and expertise here to the Rio Grande Valley,” Reyes said. “The faculty from the Harvard extension school come and present workshops on mathematics for middle school and high school teachers.”

She said during the last four years, there have been a variety of Harvard professors who have provided trainings at Region One.

“I would also like to acknowledge the President of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation, Dr. Roland Arriola, for his visionary leadership in initially creating this partnership with Harvard University,” Reyes said. “I am also grateful to Adriana Lopez, Associate Director and to the Texas Graduate Center staff for all their hard work and support.”

Reyes said Dr. Andrew Engelward, Director of the Harvard Math for Teaching Graduate Program has been a great advocate and supporter of the Texas Graduate Center.

“It’s been a true partnership,” Reyes said. “Whenever we have any issues or concerns, Dr. Engleward has been there to address them and advocate on our behalf.”

rgarcia@valleystar.com