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Rio Grande Valley

Rio Grande Valley Teach For America Honor Roll Gala Will Recognize Nolan Perez, MD, the Texas Workforce Commission, and Martin Winchester

The annual event honors leaders and institutions who have advanced educational equity in the Rio Grande Valley.


The hybrid event will be April 17 and have options for in-person participation following health guidelines or an at-home option.

MISSION, TX - On April 17, Teach For America will hold its annual Honor Roll Gala.  Nolan Perez, MD will receive the Educational Champion award; the Texas Workforce Commission, the Institutional Catalyst award; and Martin Winchester, the Alumni Leadership award.  Now in its third 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 have 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. Dr. Nolan Perez is a gastroenterologist by trade but has a passion and dedication towards advancing educational opportunities for students both locally and throughout the state of Texas. He has served on the Harlingen CISD board of trustees since 2010, including a term as president when they were recognized as the 2019 Board of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators.  ​ He is a former member and chairmen of the Texas Women’s University Board of Regents and currently is a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents.  Dr. Perez created RGV Mentors to inspire high school students and assist them in transitioning into post-secondary education. He has mentored many students himself, including college and medical students and residents in training.  Dr. Perez is a former member of the Educate Texas Advisory Committee and currently is a member of the Holdsworth Center Governing Board.  From his own initial education in Point Isabel ISD to now, Dr. Perez has believed in the power of education to create opportunities and demonstrates it throughout all of his many leadership endeavors. 

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 Texas Workforce Commission is the state agency which oversees workforce development efforts throughout the state.  Through various funding mechanisms such as the Jobs and Education for Texas (JET) grants, they provide training in K-12, higher education, and technical training settings.  Many Rio Grande Valley educational entities have recently been awarded Texas Workforce Commission funding to launch first of its kind educational training for skills such as community coding, internal nurse development efforts, and even a brewmaster program.  Julian Alvarez III, Commissioner for Labor and a native of the Valley, will represent the commission at the Honor Roll gala. 

The Alumni Leadership award is given to a Teach For America alumnus/a, 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.  Martin Winchester first moved to the RIo Grande Valley as part of the 1995 Rio Grande Valley Teach For America corps teaching in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District.  Over his distinguished career, he has served as teacher, principal, district administrator, and state agency official.  After recently serving as the Deputy Commissioner for Educator Support at the Texas Education Agency, he now is the Chief Human Assets Officer at IDEA Public Schools.  Over the years, Mr. Winchester has focused on ensuring a strong teacher in every classroom and leader in every school.  True to his core values, he remains a teacher at heart and is living out his initial commitment when he joined Teach For America to work towards the day when all children have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.


“We know that our region’s future is tied to how well we educate today’s students.  This year’s honorees demonstrate how high expectations, collaboration, and sustained commitment can lead to long-term educational change in the Rio Grande Valley,”  said Teach For America executive director, Ana Gonzalez.  

In a year with many disruptions to learning, Teach For America has equipped its network of educators with the necessary tools to provide virtual and hybrid instruction to students and ensure it is not a year of lost learning.  Funds raised through this event will support local efforts to find, train, and develop educational leaders to support the educational recovery out of the pandemic. 

The Honor Roll Gala will be at 6:30pm on Saturday, April 17.  The hybrid event will include an in-person option at the Mission Events Center.  The indoor program and outdoor reception and festivities will follow local public health guidelines.  Guests will also have an at-home option to fully participate in an engaging and interactive way.  Gala committee chair, Felicia Villarreal, states, “It is so important we honor those who have helped make the Rio Grande Valley the most improved part of the state educationally.  While many challenges remain with the pandemic, we will provide options for our entire community to celebrate these great leaders and support Teach For America in the process.” 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ​​. 

About Teach For America

Teach For America works in partnership with 350 urban and rural communities across the country to expand educational opportunity for children. Founded in 1990, 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, Teach For America is a force of over 64,000 alumni and corps members working in over 9,000 schools nationwide in pursuit of profound systemic change. From classrooms to districts to state houses across America, they 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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Sara Ortega