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UTSA recognized by White House initiative for work with Hispanic community

In this file photo courtesy of the UTSA Academy for Teacher Excellence (ATE), a young student with one of the ATE's Informal Learning Clubs learns to add and multiply using a Nepohualtzitzin, an abacus-like tool used for calculations by ancient Mesoamerican civilizations. Learn more about how the ATE uses this tool to teach area Hispanic students about mathematics.

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(Sept. 17, 2015) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Academy for Teacher Excellence (ATE), the Office of P-20 Initiatives and the Prefreshmen Engineering Program (PREP) USA have been recognized as Bright Spots in Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The recognition comes during Hispanic Heritage Month and as the White House initiative marks its 25th anniversary.

According to the government statistics, nearly one in four students in the nation’s public schools are Hispanic. In the next few decades, Hispanics will represent nearly one in three jobholders in the workforce. To ensure the educational success of this population, the White House created the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education National Catalog. Bright Spots included in the catalog are recognized for their work in supporting the educational success of Hispanic students.

“Every child deserves equal educational opportunities that ensure future success,” said Belinda Bustos Flores, founder and principal investigator of the ATE and department chair of the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies in the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD). “It is an honor to be listed as a Bright Spot for the work that UTSA, the Academy for Teacher Excellence and COEHD have done to advocate and support Hispanic education.”

Established in 2003, the ATE serves as a hub where school districts, community colleges and the private sector can interact and collaborate with UTSA on research and the design, implementation and evaluation of educational programs that address the emerging educational issues of the day, especially those associated with an increasingly diverse student population.  It is also a critical component of COEHD’s teacher preparation programs. The ATE was recognized for its success in training educators to work with diverse student populations.

“We are so thrilled to be a part of this extensive initiative and are thankful for all who have worked with the Academy for Teacher Excellence,” said Lorena Claeys, executive director and research associate of the ATE. “Emphasis on Hispanic education has progressed, but there is still work to do. We look forward to continuing our efforts to ensure educational opportunities for all.”

The Office of P-20 Initiatives provides the community access to information on pathways to success in post-secondary education. It was recognized for its efforts in helping students develop and achieve educational goals through partnerships with K-12 and post-secondary institutions and from within the greater community, such as its recent parent engagement summit, which drew more than 300 participants from around the community.

“It is an honor to receive this recognition and be a part of our university’s mission to promote college access within our community,” said Joseph Kulhanek, assistant vice president for P-20 Initiatives. “The national acknowledgement will go a long way in helping promote future P-20 parental engagement summits."

Founded in 1979, the PREP USA program has provided high quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming to at least two generations of students. It was established on the vision to advance STEM opportunities for students in underrepresented minority communities. It serves as the first point of access to college and university campuses for many students and has worked with more than 38,000 middle and high school students since 1979. It was recognized for its success in boosting representation of minority students in STEM fields.

"PREP has been a sustained bright spot for STEM education in San Antonio for more than three decades," said Rudy Reyna, executive director of PREP USA. "It has impacted the lives of thousands of students, a majority of which have been Hispanic. Being named a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education reinforces our focus on students who are traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering."

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic’s Bright Spots in Hispanic Educational National Online Catalog was announced by Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the Initiative at the launch of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 15 in Washington, D.C.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” said Ceja.

The Bright Spots in Hispanic Education National Online Catalog is composed of 230 programs, models, organizations and initiatives that invest in key education priorities for Hispanic students. The catalog is designed to encourage collaboration and partnership between Initiative stakeholders and fellow Bright Spots. Also included are UTSA-affiliated entities Teachers Education and English Learners and the Latino Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) Organization, which held its global summit at UTSA in March under the coordination of Maragrita Machado-Casas, associate professor in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, executive director of transnational educational exchange and intercultural relations for the LEAD Global Network.

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Learn more about the UTSA Academy for Teacher Excellence.

Learn more about the UTSA Office of P-20 Initiatives.

Learn more about the Prefreshmen Engineering Program USA.

Learn more about the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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