Monica Benavides, a realtor and business owner, had the chance to relive her days in the classroom during a visit to Zavala Elementary on March 1 as part of Ambassadors of Learning, an extension of Heroes for Harlingen.

She along with business professionals throughout the community spent the morning at one of 17 elementary schools where they learned about their designated campuses, district-wide programs as well as the many choices and opportunities available at Harlingen CISD.

As a former educator of 15 years, Benavides was astonished by all the technology in the classroom and how teachers are using it to make learning fun and engaging for students.

“The Zavala campus is amazing. I saw technology being used at its highest ability in the classroom and teachers integrating it seamlessly into the curriculum,” said Benavides. “As a realtor and business owner, getting to see firsthand the learning taking place in the classroom, I can speak to the remarkable things taking place in our schools.”

Benavides toured the school discovering key initiatives like the early literacy program, to the Pre-K 3 program, to modernized furniture among other things. She also had the chance to interact with students during a technology-rich reading activity.

“Every year we take all of our Teachers of the Year, and we give them a ‘common challenge,’ said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “They have been able to problem solve and create some incredible opportunities. I am humbled and honored to serve with these teachers; they have done an amazing job with their challenge this year.”

Beatriz Cruz, Zavala’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, said that Ambassadors of Learning aims to strengthen partnerships within the community.

“We want to let the community have first-hand experience about what is going on in the classroom,” said Cruz.

“I could tell you, I could show you pictures, but it doesn’t compare to being inside the classroom and watching the teacher interact with students. We wanted to highlight the multifaceted pieces of every school. Each campus is unique and has so much to give.”

Ambassadors ended their visit to HCISD at a luncheon where they had the opportunity to discuss what they had learned with Teachers of the Year and administrators.