Teacher’s Commitment to Academic Excellence Pays Off

It’s been more than two decades since Rita Rosales-Alvarez (B.A. ’94) walked the halls as a student in the Education Department at St. Mary’s University, but one thing remains the same: her commitment to a profession in which she can make a difference in the lives of young children.

Today, Rosales-Alvarez is a science and math teacher at Roy Cisneros Elementary School in Edgewood Independent School District — in the heart of one of San Antonio’s underserved communities.

“Over the past 15 years as an educator, I have continued towards building programs geared at developing students, in particular those with socio-economic challenges. I believe that family and community support are the cornerstones for success in these children, and work towards building these relationships with my student’s parents, family and friends,” said Rosales-Alvarez.

In her community, Rosales-Alvarez is known for going the extra mile for students. And, her professional training has allowed her to work with students of all ability levels. Outside of her role as a teacher, she is the co-principal investigator of Girl Power, a grant-funded program aimed at developing self-esteem and life skills in fifth-grade girls, in a mentor-mentee setting. Among the many hats Rosales-Alvarez wears, she also finds time to serve as a University Interscholastic League coach for math and oral storytelling for first-grade students.

Her hard work and dedication to education has garnered her attention: She recently was awarded the ExCEL Award by SACU and KENS5, an award that honors one teacher from each school district for making a difference in the classroom and beyond.

“It’s always a great honor to be recognized by your peers and administrators.”

Rosales-Alvarez believes the ExCEL Award is a reflection of how much she loves her job and her commitment to trying to make a difference in students’ lives.

The award came with a $1,000 check, proving a commitment to academic excellence pays off in more ways than one. However, it’s the day-to-day hurdles Rosales-Alvarez helps students overcome when learning math and science that keep her coming back to work. Every day, she enters the classroom ready to sing the steps to a math problem to make learning fun.


St. Mary's University, founded in 1852, is the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest. It offers 75 programs, including doctoral and law programs, and has a diverse student population of about 3,800 of all faiths and backgrounds. Its vision, as a Catholic and Marianist liberal arts institution, is to become one of the finest private universities in the region, a gateway for graduates to professional lives as ethical leaders in Texas, the nation and the world.

Take the next step...