Alex Torres, an incoming sophomore at Harlingen High School, will be representing the HCISD community at the Ford Next Generation Learning National Conference on October 18-21.
His invitation to this exclusive event was the result of being selected as one of the ten national winners of the #IAMFORDNGL creative video contest in which participants were asked to encourage other communities to join Ford NGL and describe the impact of Ford NGL on their personal and school life.
In his creative video submission, Torres talks about his Shark Tank project, which he participated in as part of Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy’s Teacher Externships, a component of Heroes for Harlingen. His group created and presented an idea for collecting and recycling rainwater.
“The mission of Ford NGL is to prepare a new generation of people who will graduate from high school both college and career ready,” Torres said. “The Shark Tank Competition gave us first-hand experience on starting a business and exposed us to its financial aspects. In the long run, participation in the Ford NGL program will prepare students to face tomorrow’s challenges and our rapidly changing technological world.”
The framework that Ford NGL promotes in its communities involves creating meaningful learning experiences, maintaining career and interest themed academies along with promoting growth and prosperity by engaging students with the community. The ultimate goal is to prepare students across the nation for a successful life in the 21st century.
“All of his life, I have had to push him and for the first time with this Shark Tank project, I saw him very motivated,” Torres’ mother, Gregoria Torres said. “He took the initiative and just went for it. I hope that he takes the experience from the conference and does something great with it.”
The Rio Grande Valley is a Ford Next Generation Learning community. Cano Freshman Academy follows the Ford NGL structure by allowing students to chose between five career pathways at the start of the school year and then provide projects that encourage hands-on learning and collaboration.
“We do this so that what they are learning becomes more memorable to them,” Rebecca Jennings, English Teacher at Cano Freshman Academy said. “I was very impressed with how involved Alex got in the project. Shark Tank has been a very positive project because the students are so engaged to the point that I could just take a step back and let the learning happen. I think for students such as Alex this will open the door to so many new opportunities. He’ll get to network with and connect with people from across the country.”
At this conference, Torres will have the opportunity to network with a group of students and other individuals including educators, employers and community leaders across the nation who are leading the education transformation.
“We are super excited about Alex Torres’ accomplishment, HCISD Superintendent, Dr. Cavazos said. “This all stemmed from his participation in Shark Tank. He did extremely well and presented his concept and ideas very well. The whole idea of him moving on to the national NGL competition makes us extremely proud.”
For Torres, the best part about being part of a Ford NGL community is about having memorable experiences in his learning as it really helps him grasp and retain new information.
He looks forward to attending the Ford NGL conference that will take place in Coachella Valley in Palm Springs, California later this year.
“I’m hoping this experience will provide many networking opportunities so that maybe I can one day bring my Shark Tank idea to reality, “ Torres said. “It could work and potentially become a big business. Shark Tank helped me learn how to work with other people. We developed our ideas and learned how to execute them.”