This article was originally published in the Valley Morning Star
Math teachers attending Harvard Graduate School hosted their Hanging with Harvard math conference to go over algebra two and calculus with area students. GEAR UP students from all of Region One came together to talk about Harvard and learn math Harvard and tips about the school.
“After they go to these types conferences they really think it’s possible for them,” said Christina Ochoa, Santa Rosa GEAR UP coordinator. Ochoa said the four Santa Rosa students who attended were very excited about the math conference and because they were curious to learn more about the best school in the world. “Conferences like these are probably the only way they’re going to be exposed to Harvard,” Ochoa said.
The expectation of the Region One Hanging with Harvard Math Conference is to spark the students’ interest in considering an Ivy League education in their future. Friday’s conference’s theme was “Living and Learning at Harvard University.” It marked the fourth consecutive year the Texas Graduate Center and Region One host the conference. The keynote speaker for the conference was Dr. Carlos Ayala, Rio Grande Valley facial plastic surgeon trained at the Harvard otolaryngology residency program. Ayala told the students his story on how he followed his dreams to go to a better college. San Benito GEAR UP student, Ruben Mendez said, “we learned math how to make problems easier for us.” Mendez said he wants to be a math and science teacher and believes Harvard is the palace to go.
After last year’s conference, Rio Hondo GEAR UP student, Jose Ramirez applied to the Harvard Summer Youth Program. The community of Rio Hondo and Harvard helped pay the expense for Ramirez to study and stay on the Harvard campus for the three week summer camp. Region One and the Texas Graduate Center partnered up to send teachers from the Rio Grande Valley to Harvard University to study math. “We have teachers who are in a masters for math teaching program at Harvard University,” said Claudia Gutierrez, GEAR UP STEM Education Specialist. The students did part of their work online at the Texas Graduate Center in Mercedes. In the summers they did a residency at Harvard University. “We had over 240 GEAR UP students participating from across the Rio Grande Valley, and we’re very excited,” said Dr. Mary Alice Reyes, Texas Graduate Center director. Reyes said students had the opportunity to receive math content and instruction from Harvard graduate students, and information about their experience at Harvard.
“The teachers are very excited to give back and share what they have learned at Harvard with the students,” Reyes said. Since the initiation of the Texas Graduate Center program in 2012, four cohorts totaling 29 teachers, have been selected to earn a master’s degree in Mathematics for Teaching from Harvard University. The first cohort has completed the program and will be participating in their commencement ceremony at Harvard in May 2016.