• Today only 12% of public school students in South Texas earn any type of degree within six years after high school.

  • But a great education is possible for all students here. Since arriving in the Rio Grande Valley in 1991, Teach For America has brought more than 1,000 teachers to the area who are dedicated to giving all students in South Texas access to a high-quality education.

About Rio Grande Valley

Situated in deep South Texas, bordered to the south by the Rio Grande River, the east by the Gulf of Mexico, the north by two hundred miles of mesquite brush, and the west by Falcon Lake, the Rio Grande Valley is a land of historical and contemporary contradictions. The history of the Valley is at the same time a history of isolation and interaction. From the colonization of native peoples by the Spanish to the dominance of Anglo settlers over Mexican Americans to the emergence of powerful multi-national manufacturing firms, our region has been engaged in an ongoing struggle for equity.

Teachers in the Rio Grande Valley are faced with a daunting challenge. For every 100 students entering a public school classroom in South Texas today, only 12 will earn any type of degree within six years of graduation. As early as third grade, students in South Texas are performing behind their peers across the state, and this gap persists through the grade levels and into college for those students who are able to further their education. Although the state of Texas has continued to emphasize standardized test scores as measures of student achievement and requirements for graduation, corps members quickly learn that they need to raise the bar even higher for their students to be successful beyond high school.

And yet, despite the stark reality of educational inequity in the Rio Grande Valley, Teach For America is not alone in trying to change the region’s educational landscape and expectations for achievement. Recent years have seen the birth and dramatic growth of IDEA Public Schools, a public charter system that strives to send 100% of their graduates to college, and the Rio Grande Valley Center for Teaching and Leading Excellence, a partnership between the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District, IDEA schools, and Teach For America. This precedent-setting partnership between our organization, a charter district, and a traditional public school district is seeking to address one of the region’s biggest challenges: a shortage of human capital.

Through infusing over 1,200 leaders into South Texas schools since 1991, we have seen that our students can achieve at levels comparable to their higher-income peers across the state. At the classroom, school, and system level, we have evidence of the power of transformational leadership, which is changing the conversation about what is possible for the students of the Rio Grande Valley.

Connect With Us

200 S. 10th Street, Suite 800
McAllen, TX 78501
Tel 956-630-6781
Fax 956-682-7619

Executive Director

Paula Garcia
Dr. Garcia, a 1998 alumna of TFA – RGV, most recently served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Raymondville ISD.

In previous roles, Dr. Garcia worked  in support of schools across the RGV, including as a Project Manager for Educate Texas, focusing on early college high school expansion in the RGV, as the Founding Principal of IDEA Donna, the flagship campus, as an Education Specialist for RGV Lead, as a School Director at three Teach For America summer institutes, and as a 4th and 5th grade bilingual teacher in Mercedes ISD.  Dr. Garcia earned her doctorate in educational leadership from Texas A&M Kingsville where dissertation evaluated instructional coaching models and their effect on student achievement.  Dr. Garcia brings to the role a wealth of education experience, a wide network of colleagues across the region, a clear vision of rigor for both students and professionals, and a deep conviction in the power of education. 

Regional Stats

Data valid as of: Aug 2014