More than 50 educators from across the Rio Grande Valley recently certified by South Texas College are now leaders in Science, Technology Engineering and Math.

As the latest graduates from the RGV STEM Faculty Institute, faculty have been charged with guiding students into 21st century STEM careers.

Working under the Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator (TRSDA), 56 faculty members from school districts across the Valley successfully completed intensive professional development training with the intent to enrich students’ learning experience in STEM related fields. STC held a ceremony for STEM Faculty Institute graduates on Nov. 2.

In attendance at the graduation ceremony for TRSDA was new president of Texas Southmost College Dr. Jesus Roberto Rodriguez; Texas A&M-Kingsville Dean for its RGV Engineering Initiative, Dr. Oralia De Los Reyes; Dr. Greg Garcia, Program Evaluator with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Brownsville ISD; as well as representatives from ISDs across the Rio Grande Valley.

The ceremony included faculty from at least 9 ISDs, two colleges and two universities including Brownsville ISD, Donna ISD, Edinburg CISD, Hidalgo, La Joya, Los Fresnos, Mission CISD, PSJA ISD, Weslaco ISD, South Texas College, Texas Southmost College, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and UT-RGV.

“Everybody is asking when the next one is, but we don’t have one on the horizon just yet because this grant is ending,” said Valerie Gamez, Project Director of the TRSDA at South Texas College - Pecan Campus. “Overall, faculty were very pleased about what they were seeing in terms of the active learning techniques and all the new protocols they are bringing back to the classroom.”

“Each cohort was great, but this cohort was particularly engaged and wonderful,” Gamez said. “We know teachers from all three cohorts are seeing positive results already and we will be doing more classroom observations in the spring. In the meantime, we are looking for new opportunities to continue this valuable work.”

Educate Texas awarded STC the $800,000 TRSDA grant to help support the training of approximately 200 RGV K-12 dual credit and higher education faculty over the course of three years. The goal of the initiative is to align curriculum between K-12 and higher education institutions in an effort to increase interest in STEM, and help students successfully complete a STEM-focused program of study, specifically in either healthcare or computer information technology.

The mission of the program aims to provide training, as well as community and industry collaboration to benefit more than 40,000 STEM students across the Rio Grande Valley as they prepare for STEM-related careers.