U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the Rio Grande Valley to speak to students at Student Leadership Day at HESTEC in Edinburg.
Duncan highlighted the importance of STEM education and reminded students that technology helps mold the future.
“I want all of you to think not just about Apple products but creating Apple products and working for Apple, and think about all the great technology that you’re working on today and have found ways of enjoying. Think about creating all of that. And the jobs of the future, so many of them, not all of them, are in the STEM fields,” Duncan said.
Teachers in the Valley already see what Duncan mentioned and have started blending technology into their lesson plans.
“The computer sends it up to that, and then the projector puts it on the screen. Then, the computer shows a website that helps you with your math,” said PSJA Independent School District 6th grade student Bernardo Garza.
Math teacher, Sam Nieto, starts class by showing a lesson plan through the achiever website. Students then do hands-on practice in class at their own pace, while Nieto individually visits with students.
Duncan’s visit to the Valley reaffirmed what the community is working on to further education, PSJA ISD Superintendent Daniel King said.
“I think we all understand that access to technology and having young people trained in technology are critical to advancement in our community. All of these things are critical to economic development, they are critical to the education of the future,” King said.
Nieto, who works with technology every day in his class, personally sees how technology use helps his students grow.
“You see the growth. From 6th grade to 7th grade to 8th grade where now they are using technology in every classroom with a calculator, graphing calculator and they understand and they develop as they go,” Nieto said.
King believes they Valley lags in one aspect.
“Right now the Valley as a whole is behind some areas of the country in terms of technology. We have a need for broadband technologies and that doesn’t exist, there are some communities in the nations that have that already,” King said.
King adds there are already talks of getting broadband to the PSJA communities so students can stop using textbooks and fully incorporate devices in their education.
“It makes me feel more comfortable because I use technology a lot,” Garza said.