Project SOL Teacher Honored by Presidential Commission
August 31, 2012
Project SOL Teacher Octavio Alvarez Honored by Presidential Commission
Educator Recognized for Raising Achievement of Secondary English Learners
--Los Angeles—The Civil Rights Project at UCLA announces that Octavio Alvarez is one of 10 exceptional teachers of Latino students from across the nation to receive honors today at a White House ceremony sponsored by President Obama’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Mr. Alvarez has been an integral part of Project SOL (Secondary On-line Learning), a research initiative of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA for the past four years, and a high school math teacher at Brawley Union High School in the Imperial Valley of California for 11 years.
Brawley High School enrolls a large number of immigrant students who often struggle to complete high school because of weak English skills and interrupted education. Mr. Alvarez educates all of the English Learners in his school in college preparatory math, and has raised both the state test scores and the high school exit exam pass rates at his school to all-time highs. In addition to teaching college preparatory math in Spanish and English, so that immigrant students have access to higher mathematics, he advises the Bilingual Club and the MESA (Math, Engineering, Science Achievement) Club.
Mr. Alvarez teaches with passion and notes, “I give my all to my students because I was once like them.”
Formerly an engineer in Mexico, Mr. Alvarez moved to the United States and began his higher education all over from scratch in order to realize his goal of becoming a teacher. He spent several years in community college to strengthen his English and complete all lower division courses, before then transferring to the local California State University campus, where he completed his BA and teaching credential in secondary mathematics.
Project SOL is a collaboration between the Civil Rights Project at UCLA and the Mexican government and makes it possible for Spanish-speaking students to graduate high school with all required college preparatory courses, while also learning English. Project SOL has existed at four high schools in California for the past four years and has offered nearly 1,000 courses to students during this time, allowing many to go on to college.
Patricia Gándara, Co-Director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, stated, “Mr. Alvarez is an extraordinary example of the talents that so many immigrants bring to this country, though his commitment to teaching and to English learners is rarely matched.”
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