John Hoang

John Hoang covers education in Hidalgo County for The Monitor. He can be reached at [email protected] or (956) 683-4435.

IDEA has $2.6M in fed funds pumped into STEM efforts

IDEA Public Schools plans to improve educational quality in the scientific and technical fields across its campuses through federal funds. The U.S. Department of Education...

Vanguard receives grant for school climate program

Vanguard Academy is taking a “proactive” approach to create an ideal learning environment for students. Vanguard Academy has campuses in Pharr, Edinburg and Alamo. The U.S. Department of Education awarded $3.7 million to Vanguard Academy to implement the School Climate Transformation Grant. This grant will give the open-enrollment charter over $700,000 each year for five years. Read the full story at

10 Valley campuses named National Blue Ribbon Schools

The U.S. Department of Education recognized 27 schools in Texas as National Blue Ribbon Schools, with 10 from the Rio Grande Valley. The La Joya, Roma, Hidalgo, Mission, Brownsville, McAllen and Valley View school districts, including IDEA Public Schools, each had a least one campus earning a distinction. The Texas Education Agency announced their nominations in January and the U.S. Department of Education officially announced the recognitions last week. Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year, the U.S. Department of Education news release stated. In Texas, 26 of 27 recognized schools were nominated by TEA. The River Oaks Baptist School, a non-public school in Texas, also earned this distinction. Read the full story at

PSJA university center named after longtime superintendent

Surrounded by friends and family, Superintendent Daniel King, the community here and across Pharr and Alamo honored him with a physical honor, reminiscent of his over 40-year career as an educator. The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District celebrated the naming of the Dr. Daniel P. King PSJA College and University Center after the soon-to-be retired superintendent. King is slated to retire on Sept. 30, and his successor, Jorge Arredondo will take his place on Oct. 1. Read the full story at

Donna ISD implements additional security measure

Donna Independent School District is adding another layer of security through electronic means at all campuses, following national school safety incidents. The district is installing an E-Reader Video Door Keyless Entry System, which forces visitors to contact the front desk staff through an intercom at the entrance of schools. The staff member will verify the individual’s identity through a videophone and approve or deny access to the building, according to the school district website.  All visits will be recorded because the intercom is linked to the camera system. Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said no particular incident drove the district to add these measures, but noted the dangers schools face nationwide. That, he said, motivated officials to take a “proactive” approach. Read the full story at

UTRGV business dean shares vision and motivation

Lance Nail keeps a personable approach in leadership, listening for input before making decisions as dean at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley.  Nail took the helm as the dean of the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship in August. Yash Gupta previously served in the position in August 2018. With a month into Nail’s leadership of the college, he is currently undergoing a “strategic listening tour” process, hearing out the concerns of faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders.  This “strategic listening tour” will take about a year and finding the resources to implement those plans would be the next step, he said. Read the full story at

PSJA students join global climate event

Chanting “climate change now, don’t let us down,” students of various ages marched toward city hall holding signs pertaining to climate change issues as part of a global effort on the issue. Students from across the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district took part in the Global Climate event, promoting sustainability and environmental awareness in a worldwide movement on Friday morning. Groups of students marched from both Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School and Buell Central campuses to Pharr City Hall. Elementary and high school students across five district campuses were all present for the march, gathering at the two campuses before marching and converging at city hall. Read the full story at

UTRGV announces large-scale free tuition program

Beginning in the fall of 2020, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will cover tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying students with a family income of $75,000 or less through the Tuition Advantage grant. UTRGV President Guy Bailey made the official announcement in the crowded lobby of the Performing Arts Center on Monday morning. Read more on the

Author presents book on Alton bus crash as part of museum speaker series

Nearly three decades since the Alton school bus crash, a local teacher and author looks back on its impact on school bus safety and the fallout following the tragedy. In 1989, a Dr. Pepper truck collided with Mission School bus no. 6 at 7:34 a.m., propelling it into a caliche pit filled with water. About 80 middle school and high school students inside the bus struggled to open the windows as the murky water quickly filled the bus. Twenty-one students drowned that morning. Donna High School social studies teacher Juan Carmona presented findings for his book, “The Alton Bus Crash,” to a room full of students, community members and history enthusiasts at the Museum of South Texas History Sunday afternoon. The tragedy led to a change in policy, and the ensuing lawsuits changed the economic status of the survivors and those affected by the tragedy. Read the full story at

2,977 flags for 2,977 lives: McAllen students organize memorial memorializing 9/11 victims

Eduardo Rivas and his fellow students bowed their heads, standing in silence in front of Lamar Academy as American flags lay planted in the ground before them, a gesture to honor the victims of the deadliest terrorist attack on the nation. The Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative youth political organization with a local chapter, held a ceremony as part of the 9/11 Never Forget Project at Lamar Academy. These students planted nearly 3,000 flags in front of the campus to remember the life of each victim killed on Sept. 11, 2001, with coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon. Students, teachers and community members walked by the small flags that were planted on the ground as Rivas and his fellow organization members recounted the details of the historic day. After they finished presenting the details of the attacks and its impact on the victims, they held a moment of silence. Read the full story at