MISSION, Texas – Teach for America-Rio Grande Valley is hosting a webinar next Tuesday titled “Resilient RGV.”

Moderated by UT-Rio Grande Valley Vice President Veronica Gonzales, the panelists will include Dr. Rodney H. Rodiguez, senior director of RGV Focus, Julian Alvarez, labor commissioner on the Texas Workforce Commission, and state Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-La Joya, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.

Jonathan Stevens, managing director of Teach for America-RGV, said the virtual panel will focus on how education and workforce development need to respond to rebound out of COVID-19.

“The RGV has a recent history of much collaboration between sectors to create opportunities for young people. K-12 systems, higher education, workforce, and the broader community have collaborated to increase state assessment results, high school graduation, and enrollment in credential or degree programs,” Stevens said. 

“Our region needs to provide many options for the skills and credentials which are needed for new and future jobs. The jobs will provide economic options for young people to have choices in their life and to build not only a growing but more thriving Rio Grande Valley.”

Stevens acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on education in the Valley.

“COVID-19 has disrupted all industries, all sectors, and previous ways of doing things all around the world. In the Valley, due to many preexisting factors, the health impacts have been incredibly severe. The toll on human life, on family livelihoods, and the ability of basic institutions to functions has been immense. Many challenges exist to ensuring students of all ages are learning in a time of primarily virtual instruction. Our broadband gap, limited availability of technology, and access to healthy food are many of the challenges which have been facing students this fall.”

Educational institutions are doing their bit to help stop the spread of COVID, Stevens argued.

“School districts and institutions of higher education have responded to keep students safe and learning. Students have an unprecedented access to technology and different ways of learning. Instructors are on a sharp learning curve to adapt their teaching practices and differentiate based on the different needs of students. At the same time, industry is also adjusting both the ways of doing things but also to take advantage of new and emerging market opportunities.”

The Valley is at a “fork in the road” when it comes to COVID-19 and educational instruction, Teach for America-RGV’s Stevens believes. He said its upcoming webinar can help answer some key questions.

“COVID-19 has presented many challenges but also has our region at a fork in the road for how we respond in a way which moves forward and doesn’t look back. What are ways that K-12 education, higher education, and employers can think about new and different ways of ensuring that our regions young people are on a path of career and life options due to their education? The “Resilient RGV” Panel and Discussion will explore this key question to build a brighter future for the Valley.”

The webinar takes place Tuesday, Nov. 10 and 12 noon. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.teachforamerica.org/rgvpanel.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Julian Alvarez, labor commissioner on the Texas Workforce Commission.

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