MERCEDES — Donned in her cap and gown, Queen Martin led her fellow classmates through Harvard’s gates to receive their master’s degrees.

MERCEDES — Donned in her cap and gown, Queen Martin led her fellow classmates through Harvard’s gates to receive their master’s degrees.

It was cold and rain drizzled when they walked into Harvard Yard to listen to their guest of honor, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, at the school’s 366th graduation ceremony.

Martin, a La Joya ISD high school math teacher, was selected class marshal.

Martin and a group of Valley math teachers are the second Texas Graduate Center cohort to earn a master’s degree in Mathematics for Teaching through the Harvard University Graduate Extension School.

The Texas Graduate Center is a component of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation, a nonprofit based in Mercedes dedicated to the betterment of public school education in the Valley by providing graduate programs to teachers and opportunities to high school students to visit Ivy League colleges.

“The teachers have done a great job and they completed the program with distinction,” said Dr. Mary Alice Reyes, Texas Graduate Center chief executive officer. “Miss Queen Martin was selected class marshal this year and that is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon Harvard graduates.”

Zuckerberg told the graduating students, “You all have done what I never did, graduate from Harvard.”

They were among the 7,066 students to receive their degrees at the country’s oldest university last month.

Nine teachers from six Valley school districts graduated and are the Texas Graduate Center’s second cohort to complete the Harvard program.

“I’m very proud to have finished this program,” said Jose Constantino, a Mercedes Early College Academy math teacher. “From where I come from, people don’t go to Ivy League schools.”

Constantino said when he started his teaching profession, he was not content with just teaching math to students for the sake of passing a state assessment.

Constantino said this year, all of his Algebra One students passed the Texas State assessment.

He said the Texas Graduate Center and Harvard provided plenty of tools and resources to assure the success of the teachers in the program.

“This is Harvard right here every time you come to the Texas Graduate Center,” Reyes said “It’s Harvard and we set that expectation from the very beginning.”

According to the Texas Graduate Center the 38 teachers in the Harvard program instruct 100 to 120 students each year. So over a 10 year teaching span more than 30,000 students will be taught by Harvard teachers.

The teachers involved in the Math for Teachers master’s program follow a three-year graduation plan.

Most have made great sacrifices because Harvard requires they attend classes on the Harvard campus during the summer for seven weeks.

“Students have been the greatest beneficiaries of this program. Now I’m able to keep them engaged and intrigued in mathematics learning,” Constantino said.

* Number of Graduates: 15

* Number of Cohorts: 5

* Number of cohorts that have graduated: 2

* Number of class

Marshals: 2

* Number of School

districts involved: 9

* Number of graduate

programs: 3

* Areas of study include: Math, Biology, Engineering/Cybersecurity

Source: Texas Graduate Center