2010 Tech Prep Teacher of the Year

Sylvia Hughes, Family and Consumer Science Teacher at San Benito High School, is the Tech Prep Teacher of the Year.

Sylvia Hughes never expected to go to college, but she managed to do so with the aid of scholarships, grants, and family encouragement. She chose to major in Family and Consumer Science because she believed everything about the subject was relevant to real life.

“I’ve always felt that if we can create good strong families it helps to make stronger communities,” said Hughes, who is in her 37th year as an educator. Every course that she teaches—Child Development, Child Guidance and Parenting-- encourages her students to become productive citizens and work to improve the world, to create strong, loving families and strengthen their community.

Hughes keeps her students engaged with projects and simulations that enhance their learning and at the same time show them how their lessons are applied in the workplace. She frequently brings in speakers from the hospitals, the Family Crisis Center, Child Protective Services, and Maggie’s House, as well as the director of the on-campus Daycare Center.

“I try to get as many people as I can to let the class know about all the different aspects of family education. Every year I cover child abuse and neglect,” Hughes said. She believes it is important to raise students’ awareness of child abuse and the fact that it can be prevented.

Hughes emphasizes the relevance of what is learned in class. In January, her Child Guidance students begin volunteering three times a week with Head Start, gaining community service hours and valuable experience. Students interested in going into education get a broad exposure to what being a teacher is all about. Other classes take on projects to replenish supplies for Maggie’s House and the Rainbow Room.

Hughes teaches Tech Prep articulated course in Child Guidance that confers college credits on students who successfully complete the course. Besides adding an element of challenge to the curriculum, the articulation confirms the relevance of high school courses for college study. It also gives students a head start of their own on a college degree.

One of Hughes’ former child guidance students has returned to her old classroom as substitute teacher, Hughes said. “I run into students all the time and see them using the things they’ve learned.”

Sylvia Hughes and her fellow teachers sponsor the San Benito High School student organization Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Those students have become involved in their community by supporting the local Food Bank and becoming angels by adopting two children from the Salvation Army Tree to buy gifts for. The students have received a first place in leadership.

Hughes is also a senior sponsor and works with students to develop a memorable graduation night.

2010 Tech Prep Counselor of the Year

Rosie Salinas Career and Technical Education Counselor at McAllen’s Nikki Rowe High School has been named the Tech Prep Counselor of the Year.

After teaching English for 18 years, Rosie Salinas earned her Master’s in Counseling and Guidance five years ago. “I had always wanted to go into counseling and took a window of opportunity,” Salinas said. She felt a counselor has an impact on more students, more teachers and the business community. Believing then-- as she does now-- that career and technical education is for all students, Salinas works to bridge the gap between academic and career counseling.

Salinas has promoted Tech Prep S-TEAM participation and the development of career planning. By providing sessions about Achieve Texas and integration of six-year plans along with programs of study for her S-TEAM fellows, Salinas communicates practical information that influences college and decisions of students and their parents.

“Her enthusiastic leadership has resulted in significant increase in CTE enrollment,” according to Lilia Sandoval Silva, McAllen ISD’s Director of Career and Technical Education. Salinas said, “What she does differently is to turn to Tech Prep a lot. With other S-TEAM members, I encourage teachers to tap into the Tech Prep website and see the lesson plans that are available that tie into careers. When kids see a connection with real life, they get more interested in courses and careers. They find out science can be fun. It opens lines of communication.” Whether students are planning to go to college or not, relevant and challenging courses put them in the college-ready mode. Salinas’ calling is to communicate the importance of career and technology knowledge to core teachers.

Salinas is a proponent of having speakers from the business community talk to students. “It makes a difference when kids hear from a speaker the skills they need to have to get hired. CT teachers already know how important marketable skills are,” she said.

Because Salinas has been an educator for so long, she has an active network of speakers: she calls on former students. “I have lots of contacts for career fairs and business speakers. Because they knew me as a counselor or teacher, they are happy to come back and encourage kids to go to college, apply for scholarships and internship, and to talk about careers.”

Tech Prep’s ALA program, which immerses teachers in the real-world workforce for several weeks, wins kudos from Salinas. ALA teachers develop lesson plans based on their experience. “It makes a world of difference to the kids. They start to understand why they have to do what they do, how it is useful for a job.”

Salinas advocates for students who must overcome challenging situations and has guided them to find and access funding for college. She has also developed positive relationship with the academic counselors on campus. Rosie Salinas exemplifies the qualities of Tech Prep’s Counselor of the Year.

Tech Prep of the Rio Grande Valley, Inc. © 2010