McALLEN — Educators from across the Rio Grande Valley gathered at the McAllen Convention Center on Friday for the second annual Teach For America Honor Roll Gala.

The gala served as an opportunity to honor local teachers and institutions, and also to raise funds for TFA’s efforts in the Valley. According to its website, the organization currently has a network of over 240 corps members and alumni in the area.

UTRGV Senior Associate Vice President for Student Success Luzelma G. Canales was presented the Educational Champion award at the gala while IDEA Academy co-founder and former TFA member JoAnn Gama was given the Alumni Leadership award.

South Texas College was recognized as this year’s Institutional Catalyst for its service to students in South Texas.

TFA National Board member Daniel R. Porterfield, who spoke at the event, called the Valley an “epicenter of emerging excellence in education.”

“There’s so much happening right here,” he said.

Reminiscing on TFA’s work in the Valley, Porterfield complimented the area’s devotion to education.

“No one believes in education like the people of the Rio Grande Valley and the Latino communities of the United States, no one. Somehow I think it’s all related to the beauty of borderlands and immigration and dreamers; borderlands aren’t boundaries, they’re places of possibility, places of fused culture, places of creativity,” he said.

TFA National Board member Daniel R. Porterfield spoke at the event, calling the RGV an “epicenter of emerging excellence in education.” Matt Wilson |

Citing positive Valley education statistics over the past decade, Porterfield encouraged the audience to keep up the good work.

“We need to rally everyone so we can keep our pedal to the metal in good Texas fashion, and get out there and grow this movement for educational equity for which the Rio Grande Valley is getting known around the country as the example that others need to follow,” he said.

Porterfield says the future depends on that education.

“Children are our future. The future of this Valley is a 10-year-old girl right here in McAllen who loves math, science and might someday go into financial management. The future of this Valley is a 12-year-old boy in Laredo, who just came north last year, learning as much as a plant drinking up water; he might someday go into education. The future of this Valley are 14-year-old twins in Pharr, who’ve got their eyes trained on UT, are taking AP computer science as sophomores and they might become the next leaders of Teach For America,” Porterfield said.