In honor of School Board Appreciation Month, South Texas College hosted its 5th annual Board Appreciation Breakfast Friday, Jan. 18. The event was organized as a ‘thank you’ to school board members while also highlighting the college’s many partners in education across Hidalgo and Starr Counties.
“I want to acknowledge those trustees who put themselves out there and who are trying to do what is right,” Chairman Paul R. Rodriguez said at the event. “The reality is you represent students, parents, taxpayers, vendors, and employees and you do an outstanding job. Thank you for the commitment that each and every one of you has shown in your service to your respective organizations.”
Districts in attendance at the event included officials from McAllen ISD, Hidalgo ISD, Edinburg CISD, La Joya ISD, Vanguard Academy, Mercedes ISD, Edcouch-Elsa ISD, South Texas ISD, Pharr Oratory, as well as Region One.
They, along with STC trustees, were lauded for their leadership, hard work, and dedication to promoting excellence in education for the community.
“We want to say ‘thank you’ and how much we appreciate our partnership,” STC President Shirley A. Reed said. “Prospective colleges couldn’t begin to do what we do if it wasn’t for such strong support from all of our school districts and Region One. When it’s all said and done, we are all in it for the same reason, for the children and adults in the community.”
At the event, STC officials also spoke of the college’s dual credit program, where high school students can receive college credit by taking college courses in a high school setting.
STC, which has been offering this program to high schools in the Valley for 20 years, has seen an increase in enrollment according to Rebecca De Leon, the college’s dean for dual credit programs and school district partnerships.
In a presentation to attendees, De Leon said the dual credit program has grown from 441 students in the fall of 1999 when it started, to an enrollment of over 13,000 students last fall. The dual credit program serves 24 Valley school districts in 70 high schools.
However, that program will soon grow, De Leon announced. Earlier that week, STC sent in a pre-application to receive an accreditation status from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.
“No school in the state has this accreditation status,” De Leon said. “It allows institutions to ensure that we are meeting the same standard of schools at a national level. It focuses on items such as student rigor to ensure faculty is being hired to handle these courses to the same standard required as the full-time faculty which we have in place already.”
The accreditation application for NACEP is a two-year process, De Leon said. Rodriguez said such a distinction would legitimize the dual credit program outside the Valley.
“There’s still people in higher education who don’t believe these students are getting college quality experiences,” Rodriguez explained. “But there have been studies that validate that these students do well in college and better than college students who don’t take dual credit courses in high school. There’s skepticism still on this program but we’re excited to pursue this accreditation status.”
At the end of the event, Dr. Reed reminded attendees of the meaning of board appreciation month.
“We’re trying to acknowledge and thank the trustees for participating in the community. It never hurts to say ‘thank you,’” Reed said.