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.

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