PHARR, RGV – Michelle Cardoza, principal at PSJA’s Berta Palacios Elementary School in south Pharr, recently attended a prestigious and highly selective leadership institute called Closing the Achievement Gap at Harvard University.

Michelle Cardoza

The week-long program helps school leaders learn how to close the achievement gap with various ethnic groups and backgrounds. According to the Harvard website the institute uses “cutting-edge frameworks to help consider how instructional quality, student engagement, youth development practices, parenting, all contribute to student achievement.”

This professional development opportunity is sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas, an organization that focuses on “improving education and supporting the conditions and public policies that allow principals reach all Texas students.”

At the institute, Cardoza was given a special focus on the challenges that come with responding proficiently to racial, ethnic, and socio-economic differences. Also, participants were educated on how their school community can work to to pursue shared improvement goals.

“We all have a big idea, but we need to start by tackling the small initiatives in order to get to the big idea,” said Cardoza. “My plan of action is to build relationships with families, involving them in the learning process and informing them on what they can do at home to help contribute to their child’s learning.”

Cardoza was only one of the eight Texas public school leaders selected for the program. “It was a wonderful learning experience,” she said of her time at Harvard.