A graduate of the University of Houston-Victoria’s School of Education & Human Development was highlighted earlier this year in the first annual letter of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Cesar Alvarez, who earned his master’s of education in administration and supervision from UHV in 2006, met the Gateses in October when they visited Lee High School in Houston, where Alvarez is an assistant principal.
“I want to close this letter with a story about one person we met when we visited some schools in Texas last year,” Bill Gates wrote in the letter, issued in January. “At Lee High School in Houston, we met a principal named Cesar Alvarez. Cesar told us about a student who had come to school as a freshman three years before and was in a gang. He was far behind in school, and he wouldn’t even talk in class. Cesar got very involved with this student and worked with him every day. Today the student is a senior, on course to graduate, and planning to go to college. When Cesar came to this part of the story, he broke down and cried, because he had worked so hard and practically worn himself out for that student.”
Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, sent out the annual letter to detail the work done during the first year of the foundation he established with his wife.
Alvarez spoke humbly about being featured in such a prestigious publication.
“I didn’t do anything special to be in there,” Alvarez said. “I spoke from the heart about the struggles that we face day in and day out with our students.”
Alvarez is the administrator of one of Lee High School’s six small learning communities, smaller clusters of teachers and students formed to provide a more individualized learning environment. It was this program the Gateses came to examine, he said.
He noted the student referred to in the letter is still on track to graduate and hopes to attend community college to become a mechanic.
Alvarez is a credit to the UHV School of Education & Human Development, Interim Dean Mary Natividad said.
“We’re extremely proud and pleased they’ve recognized his excellence and achievements in working with students,” she said. “It is the hope and dream of every educator to be able to have such a transformative effect on the lives of our students.”
The entire letter can be read online at www.gatesfoundation.org. Click on the 2009 Annual Letter link.