Teachers spend summer preparing for program in lieu of receiving grant

HARLINGEN – School’s out for summer.

Or is it?

Teachers are enjoying some time off this summer as are their students. However, in the midst of all this rest and relaxation, some teachers are already preparing for next year.

Ashley Perez and Bianca Rodriguez, instructors at the Harlingen School for Health Professions, will take some time off from their vacation to create “Lead University.”

Perez and Rodriguez have been developing the program as an innovative way to teach leadership skills to eighth graders.

They received some validation for their idea recently when they were awarded an Innovative Teaching Grant by the Harlingen Area Educational Foundation.

“I am very excited about the award, and I am ready to get started on the project,” said Perez, who teaches eighth grade algebra. The award is for $1,500.

She and Rodriguez, who teaches eighth grade language arts, came up with the idea so students could develop their leadership skills. Perez said they wanted to expose students to members of the community who could talk to them about what it means to be a leader.

The students will meet one Saturday each month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Professionals from the community will talk to them about leadership. They’ll learn organizational and speaking skills. Upon determining their community service project, they’ll select officers and begin planning the endeavor. In this way, they’ll put to use the leaderships skills they’ve learned.

“We feel that is a huge skill that they need to be successful as they move forward,” Perez said.

They hope to create mentorship opportunities with those community members.

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