Rogelio Garcia: Removing Barriers and Benefits of the Pathway

I am Rogelio Garcia, the Executive Director of College, Career, and Military Readiness, Advanced Academics, and Schools of Innovation. My main role is to oversee programs that help students graduate and prepare for life after graduation. We have early colleges and Career and Technical Education programs. In this case, there is a program of study identified by TEA for students interested in becoming teachers or entering the educational field. Our job is to create a pathway and program of study that consists of several levels of courses to prepare students to earn industry-based certifications, such as the Educational Aide certification, and continue to college to obtain a bachelor’s degree in education if they wish.


The program levels start with an introductory course, the Principles of Education. At LIS, we are trying to move these introductory courses to middle school, starting at the eighth-grade level. We identify interested students in seventh grade and place them in the Principles of Education course. When they go to high school, they can start with a level two course. This allows them to reach upper-level courses in their junior and senior years, including practicums and internships. If students complete two of these courses, including Instructional Practices or the Practicum, they will achieve an Educational Aide certification.


We also have an early college pathway at J.W. Nixon High School. In this pathway, students can earn 60 college hours, covering their basics and core courses in education. These college courses are fully transferable to any Texas public university and are aligned with TAMIU, our local Institute of Higher Education. By 20 years old, students can earn their bachelor’s degree. The district covers all costs, including books and tuition, so parents don’t have to worry about expenses.


The teacher shortage is a significant issue across K-12 education. Growing our own teachers is beneficial because it helps students understand each other and gives back to the community. When students see peers becoming teachers, it promotes interest in the profession. The support of Laredo College and Texas A&M International University is crucial for creating this pipeline.


We are also responsible for creating business and industry partnerships. We have advisories, and last month, over 200 people participated in discussing all programs of study. In this particular program, representatives from TAMIU joined us to identify obstacles, brainstorm solutions, and promote the pathway. One idea was to take students to the university. When we asked how many had been there before, it was eye-opening to see that half had never visited. We realized the need to increase exposure to the university. We plan to have another visit with different students to open their eyes to the future.

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