Texas Border Business
MISSION, Texas — On April 4, 2024, Teach For America will hold its annual Honor Roll Gala. George H. McShan will receive the Educational Champion award; Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS), the Institutional Catalyst award; and Aaron Brenner, the Alumni Leadership award. Now in its sixth year, this event honors leaders and institutions which have had a substantial impact on the educational opportunities for students across the Rio Grande Valley. This year’s slate of honorees has committed their careers and leadership towards starting new programs, implementing systems of excellence in schools, and remaining committed towards the promise of education to realize the dreams and full potential of all students.
The Educational Champion award is given to an individual who demonstrates individual leadership which advances educational excellence and equity for a large number of students through a sustained commitment to supporting students, schools, and the broader community. George H. McShan is a retired educator and former Dean of Instruction that has displayed an unwavering commitment to improving equitable educational systems across the state. For 30 years, McShan served on the Harlingen CISD School Board, earning recognition as a key contributor to the Best Board in Texas in 1993 and Superintendent of the Year in the same year. His additional community involvements include his collaboration with Mission CISD, where he played a pivotal role in elevating them to a Top Five ranked School Board in Texas for 2021 and securing the HEB Top Board for Texas in 2019. His influence also extends beyond local boards where he held esteemed positions as the president of the Texas Association of School Boards, president of the National School Board Association, and President of the North Forest Independent School District Board of Managers. Throughout his community involvement, McShan has owned and operated McShan Consulting Firm since 2002 and led in many successful superintendent searches including McAllen, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Ysleta. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Valley International Airport Board, as an ambassador for Raise Your Hand Texas, a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Harlingen, chairs the Harlingen Task Force on Juvenile Crime, Graffiti, and Gang Violence, and advises educational programs at the University of Texas. Mr. McShan displays his belief in the power of excellent education through his commitment to our community.
The Institutional Catalyst award is given to an institution, nonprofit, governmental entity, educational institution, or business which demonstrates collective leadership which advances educational excellence and equity for a large number of students through a sustained commitment to supporting students, schools, and the broader community. The Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide equitable opportunities to deserving Hispanic students who demonstrate academic merit and face financial barriers to higher education through academic scholarships and mentorship. Since its inception, VAMOS has awarded $25 million in scholarships to 1,187 students in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Starr counties. In addition to the four-year renewable scholarships awarded to students, they also offer a unique mentoring aspect in which students are paired with mentors who maintain communication and support throughout the students’ college journey. The graduation rate among VAMOS students is 96 percent, and they attend universities locally, across Texas, and some out of state. VAMOS scholarships provide life-changing opportunities for students and have far-reaching impacts that usually go beyond the students and families – this positive impact benefits entire communities. It’s an opportunity to change the course of their life and open up new opportunities that were once unthinkable. VAMOS alumni make a difference in their communities as they pursue careers in various industries and serve as role models for family members and the community. The belief that education is the most empowering force to open the door to a better life drives their work in our community. Several distinguished alumni of the program will represent VAMOS at the Honor Roll Gala.
The Alumni Leadership award is given to a Teach For America alum, either who currently lives in the Rio Grande Valley and/or who was a corps member in the Rio Grande Valley, who through a sustained commitment to RGV students, schools, and community has significantly advanced educational excellence and equity for students. Aaron Brenner moved to the Rio Grande Valley as a 1995 Teach For America corps member teaching second grade. With almost three decades of experience, Brenner has made an incredible impact for education across the state of Texas, country, and globally and been honored with several awards including teaching awards at the school (Runn Elementary), district (Donna), and regional (Region 1) levels in the State of Texas; and fellowships from the Echoing Green Foundation, the Fisher Foundation, and the Pahara-Aspen Institute. He has served as a teacher, founder and executive director of Proyecto Derecho del Corazón (a cultural arts center in Donna, TX), founder and school leader of the nation’s first KIPP elementary school, KIPP SHINE Prep, Head of Primary Schools for the KIPP Houston network, and CEO of the One World Network of Schools. He currently serves as the general partner at Seton Education Partners and the Founder and Superintendent of Brillante Academy, a dual language, classical, and personalized learning school in the heart of Mission. In alignment with his initial commitment when he joined Teach For America and his work in education, Brenner has also served on the Teach For America Rio Grande Valley Alumni Board.
“Excellent education for our students not only illuminates their future but the future of our community. Our honorees show the power of investing in the potential of our students and the dedication and commitment required to make lasting change in the Valley,” said Teach For America executive director, Ana Gonzalez.
As our students continue to combat learning loss and navigate changes in our community and the world, Teach For America supports and equips educators with the tools needed to provide excellent education and opportunity to their classrooms. Funds raised through this event will support local efforts to find, train, and develop educational leaders including our college Ignite tutors, new teachers called corps members, and the network of 220 alumni members throughout the region.
The Honor Roll Gala will be at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2024 at the Mission Event Center. Programming will include a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and programming, live auction, music, and more. Teach For America Regional Board Vice-Chair and Gala Committee Co-Chair, Deborah Cordova, states, “It is an honor to recognize those who have made an impact for the students of the Rio Grande Valley. We are coming together in community and partnership in the pursuit of excellent education for all kids and to support the work of Teach For America in the process.” Gala Committee Co-Chair, Fabiola Urgel-Caporusso, adds, “Educational opportunities are critical for the growth and development of the Rio Grande Valley. We encourage our community leaders, businesses, and the entire community to come together to support this year’s Honor Roll Gala.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.teachforamerica.org/HonorRollGala.
About Teach For America Rio Grande Valley
Teach For America Rio Grande Valley (TFA RGV) works in partnership with local districts and charter schools to expand educational opportunities for children. Founded in the Rio Grande Valley in 1991, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding leaders who make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, TFA RGV is a force of about 275 alumni and corps members impacting more than 4,000 students in pursuit of profound systemic change. From classroom to school-systems positions, these leaders are reimagining education to realize the day when every child has an equal opportunity to learn, lead, thrive and co-create a future filled with possibility. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org/rio-grande-valley and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.