Heading to Harvard: Valley principal to attend Ivy university for program

RAYMONDVILLE — When Sulema Davila went to Pittman Elementary School, more parents took part in their children’s education.

“Since I went to school here, I’ve felt a big difference in parental involvement,” said Davila, now the school’s principal.

So she wants to get more parents involved.

“I want to bring in parents so they feel welcome,” she said.

Today, Davila leaves for Harvard University, where she’ll get tips to boost parental involvement.

It’s a state-funded program named Raise Your Hand Texas that will pick up the bill for Davila’s week-long Harvard experience.

Last October, Superintendent Johnny Pineda recommended Davila reach out to the program, which helps educators develop their careers.

But it was tough getting into the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principals’ Center.

Across Texas, Davila faced stiff competition from educators.

“I realized what a great opportunity it is but I thought it was going to be a long shot,” she said.

First she wrote an essay, then took part in critical-thinking exercises before interviewing to attend the Harvard graduate school.

“It was a difficult task,” she said.

But Davila scored high marks.

“I feel very honored,” she said.

At Harvard, she said, she’ll study to help her boost parental involvement at Pittman.

“I am hopeful that Mrs. Davila will bring back unique ideas on how to communicate this so that between the educators and the parents working together we can reach each child’s fullest potential,” Pineda said.

“We must all recognize that parental involvement has always been and will continue to be an integral part of every child’s education,” Pineda said.

“Parental support and involvement in their children’s lives by encouraging them to attend school daily and meet the challenges of a rigorous curriculum is vital and very necessary for their child’s success in life in today’s world.”

At Harvard, Davila will take a course in family and community engagement.

“I want to bring back tools to the school district to bring more parental involvement back,” she said.

“As a campus, we need to be more welcoming, more inviting.”