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Texas Holmes Cadets Present Research at AACTE Annual Meeting

Did you notice a fresh burst of energy at AACTE’s Annual Meeting this year? Then you might have been lucky enough to interact with the high school students from the South Texas Independent School District (STISD) who attended as participants in the AACTE Holmes Program.

This inaugural class of AACTE Holmes Cadets came to Tampa, Florida, earlier this month for a set of special events held by and for Holmes participants at the AACTE 69th Annual Meeting. The Holmes Cadet Program, which supports historically underrepresented high school students interested in pursuing careers in education, launched in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley last August to build a stronger pipeline of Hispanic and Latino educators. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) leads the program in partnership with STISD and the South Texas Business, Education, and Technology Academy (BETA) to foster future educators who are proponents of change in their community.

During the annual Holmes Program preconference March 1, the cadets presented their research on cultural/linguistic diversity and interacted with dozens of older students and leaders from around the country. BETA Holmes Cadet Coordinator Valerie Johnson reports that the Annual Meeting experience had a transformative positive impact on her students. “They were so inspired to move forward in their pursuit of education studies,” she said, “and now more than ever are fully committed to furthering their education and being proponents of change. The Holmes Program enabled them to see that […] they do indeed have the power to change the educational system.”

Several of the BETA Holmes Cadets sent written reflections following their experience at the AACTE conference. Here are excerpts of a piece written by 11th-grader James Kazen:

As an education student of the South Texas Business, Education, and Technology Academy, I began to experience a passion for education after becoming an intern for a kindergarten class. When I saw the opportunity to be a Holmes Cadet, I jumped at it. The research we conducted on cultural/linguistic diversity was so interesting to me, and I enjoyed discussing it with professors at a Texas Association for Future Educators conference.

It all culminated at the AACTE Annual Meeting, where the Holmes conference was essentially a think tank of like-minded educators from all across the country who “clicked” with me. I was moved by their open and vibrant discussions of problems and solutions, which coincided directly with my personality. Moreover, I was struck when presenting our research by the power of establishing professional connections with people that cared for our research and for education at large. By the closing ceremony where many gave their heartfelt speeches, I felt euphoric; I knew I had been changed.

Now, I’ve seen a whole new side to education in our nation, and the people that care for society as a whole. I found a haven where I wish to continue making connections with these people – all educators, just like my peers, UTRGV College of Education Dean Dr. McHatton, and our mentor Ms. Johnson. I am thankful to all of them for revealing my path in a dense forest.

For more information on the Holmes Cadet Program, download this fact sheet or contact Tim Finklea at tfinklea@aacte.org.

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