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2011 Tech Prep Teacher and Counselor of the Year Recipients

Tech Prep honored two wonderful educators with the 2011 Tech Prep Teacher and Counselor of the Year awards at Tech Prep's annual regional conference on December 1, 2011. These two individuals are outstanding educators who serve as role models helping young people become leaders of the next generation.  During the 2011 Tech Prep Regional Conference/Lower Rio Grande P-16 Planning Institute, La Joya ISD Welding Teacher Eleazar Ibarra received the 2011 Tech Prep Teacher of the Year Award and Norma Sanchez-Pena of McAllen ISD was given the 2011 Tech Prep Counselor of the Year Award. 

Eleazar Ibarra, of Juarez-Lincoln High School, teaches a Tech Prep articulated course in Welding.  Mr. Ibarra is certified to teach Tech Prep through Advanced Technical Credit Training (ATC) to ensure his students receive college credits upon completion of his course.  He says, “He works closely with the counselors to help align students into their Tech Prep classes.”  He also assists many students to become certified through the American Welding Society (AWS) by the time they graduate. 

Colleagues of the Teacher of the Year say, “Mr. Ibarra has made a great impression on so many people…he is always there when you need him, he will bend over backwards to help others, especially his students, and he is the first one there and the last to leave.” Mr. Ibarra works collaboratively with other educators to incorporate science into his lesson plans. 

“Getting the Tech Prep Teacher of the Year award has been a great honor,” says Ibarra.  Ibarra believes Tech Prep benefits the students greatly, he says, “Tech Prep gives students the opportunity to graduate from high school with several college credits and possibly an Associate’s Degree.  The students that were not even sure if they would go to college can see that they are that much closer to obtaining a degree right out of high school.”  As an advocate for his students and for Tech Prep, Eleazar Ibarra is proud of the work he is doing as an educator and being involved in other community programs.

Named the 2011 Counselor of the Year, Norma Sanchez-Pena, a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Counselor at McAllen ISD is a remarkable educator who implements innovative ideas in promoting Tech Prep and developing career awareness, and in her ability to bridge the gap between academic and career counseling.  As a mother of three children who is pursuing a doctorate degree, Mrs. Pena demonstrates strong leadership skills. 

Working as a team with her S-Team members, CTE teachers, and academic teachers, Mrs. Pena says, they “disseminate the benefits of Tech Prep to students through pre-registration activities, Career Search Inventory Survey, career fairs, and with presentations and videos.”  Pena also communicates all Tech Prep information to parents, who are critical stakeholders.    She has creative ideas, such as putting together videos that support the Tech Prep Texas Scholar program which are used at parent meetings and in the CTE classrooms. 

She uses her former work experience at a college to promote Tech Prep connections.  Pena is thankful for the recognition and says, “I will continue to work on innovative ways to encourage students to take Career Technical Education courses to be ready for college and the workforce.  Tech Prep benefits students by giving them a head start in obtaining college credit but most importantly it exposes them to their career interests.” Mrs. Pena is passionate about her work; she is a strong student advocate and delivers Tech Prep information effectively as evidenced by having the highest CTE enrollment in McAllen ISD. 

Both Eleazar Ibarra and Norma Sanchez-Pena are role models at their districts.   Both are passionate individuals who go above and beyond their call of duty to advocate for what they believe in and to support Tech Prep initiatives. It gives Tech Prep great pleasure to honor these outstanding educators!

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