Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Recent A&M-Kingsville Graduate Selected to Participate in NASA Math, Science Teaching Camp

KINGSVILLE - May 20, 2011

Contact: Adriana Garza
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4979

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Nancy Garcia knows exactly what type of teacher she wants to be. She will be patient, innovative, caring and never tire of the joy that comes with helping a student discover a new world. That’s been her dream. She knows it is a teacher that embodies all those qualities that has the best chance at reaching their students—she knows this because those are the type of teachers she’s learned from at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Now, the College of Education and Human Performance May 2011 graduate will spend a week in June at the Johnson Space Center in Houston as part of NASA Pre-Service Teacher Institute (PSTI) to further help her become the best teacher she can be. She was selected to attend the camp after a national application process.

“When I learned about the NASA program, I wondered, if I applied, would I be able to get in,” Garcia said of the nationally competitive program. “I also wanted to do it because I knew that it would help me teach kids. I went ahead and filled out the application, got letters from my professors and wrote an essay and I was accepted.”

“This is a great accomplishment for one of our graduates, Mrs. Nancy Garcia, to be selected for the NASA Johnson Space Center Pre-Service Teacher Institute for Learning,” said Dr. Albert Ruiz, dean of the College of Education and Human Performance. “We are doing great things in the College of Education and Human Performance and Mrs. Garcia's accomplishment is one we are very proud of.”

According to the Johnson Space Center, the NASA PSTI  is a summer residential session for early childhood, elementary education, and middle school education majors preparing to teach in an elementary or middle school classroom. College students from diverse backgrounds will spend an exciting time at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, where they are exposed to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) enrichment activities for their classroom. Pre-service teachers are able to meet NASA personnel and tour Johnson Space Center facilities while learning to incorporate NASA's cutting-edge research into STEM lesson plans for elementary and middle school students. For Garcia, the program is one more opportunity to ensure that she is prepared to help all students learn all subjects when she takes to the classroom this fall.

“It still doesn’t seem real, but it will probably hit me once I’m there,” Garcia said. “I smile every  time I think about it.”

It’s been a challenging journey for the 35 year-old mother of three from Los Fresnos. A first-generation college student, Garcia was inspired to become a teacher after years of working as an attendance clerk at Porter High School in Brownsville. The contact with students and the instinct to want to help them pushed Garcia to enroll in the Education & Training program at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen in 2007.

“When I started school, it really felt awkward for me,” Garcia said.  “I was somewhat older than most of the students that were there. For me, it meant more to know more—the older you get the smarter you get. I appreciated everything I was learning,” she said.

After several classroom role-playing exercises that placed Garcia as the teacher, she was hooked.

“When I was up there explaining something and I’d hear someone say, ‘I understand!’—I loved that feeling,” Garcia said.

Garcia completed the Education and Training program at TSTC and transferred her credits to A&M-Kingsville as part of a cooperative agreement between the two South Texas institutions. Signed in 2009, the agreement allows TSTC Education and Training students to earn 90 transferable credit hours from TSTC and transfer to A&M-Kingsville’s College of Education and Human Performance, where they can then earn a bachelor’s degree with early childhood through sixth grade certification.

Ruiz said Garcia’s successes reflect the achievements of the A&M-Kingsville and TSTC partnership.

“I am very proud of Nancy, as well as the A&M-Kingsville and TSTC communities,” Ruiz said. “This was an individual accomplishment with the help of family, as well as both institutions' faculty and staff. It speaks volumes for the vision both institutions of higher education had to make things a reality for everyone involved.”

As she prepares to attend the NASA PSTI program, Garcia knows all her sacrifices are about to pay off.

“I went through the program and it was hard because there were lots of classes and time away from the family,” Garcia said. “My husband has been very supportive and always told me that all that hard work was going to be worth it because my dreams were going to come true.”


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