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PSJA ISD alum appointed as Department Chair of Teacher Education at Texas Tech University

Valley native proud to represent his community, Hispanics at the higher-education level 


PHARR – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) Alum Dr. Fernando Valle has been appointed as the Chair of the Department of Teacher Education in the College of Education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock effective June 2022 


Dr. Valle a former PSJA ISD educator, currently serves as the Interim Chair for the inaugural Department of Special Education in the College of Education at Texas Tech University.  


His education journey first began in the Rio Grande Valley. He graduated from PSJA High School in 1989 and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Texas San Antonio. He received his degree in 1995, and a Master’s in Education in Counseling and Guidance in 1998, as well as a Master’s in Educational Leadership in 2001 from the University of Texas-Pan American. Most recently he earned a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2008. 


According to Dr. Valle, his family and roots are his constant motivation to always strive to make a difference and continue working hard. Prior to joining Texas Tech, Dr. Valle served as a classroom teacher at Austin Middle School in San Juan and as a Counselor and Assistant Principal at PSJA Memorial Early College High School in Alamo. 


“We are standing on the shoulders of folks who cleared the way for us. When I walk into a room, I have my family on one shoulder, and the Valleymy 956, on the other,” shared Dr. Valle. “I am really blessed and really proud to always represent my community. 


As the youngest of four siblings, a migrant, and first-generation college student, the PSJA alum shared never allowing labels to define him or determine how far he would go. 


When you become a first-generation college student you also eventually become a first-generation masters and doctorate student in your family,” said Dr. Valle. “But like I always tell my team, le tienes que hechar sabor a los tacos.’ Whave to bring our culture into everything we do. That’s what I am proudest of, my culture just goes with me everywhere I go. I know who I am and where I come from and I am proud of that. 


Dr. Valle has over 25 years of experience in teaching, school personnel preparation, and school-university partnerships. He is a former American Education Research Association Clark Scholar and was a Graduate Fellow and Faculty Fellow for the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. He is also a recipient of the President's Excellence in Teaching Award, President's Excellence in Diversity and Equity Award and President's Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award at Texas Tech University 


Despite his successes, Dr. Valle shared being a minority away from the Rio Grande Valley comes with its challenges, but he uses that as a motivation to continue breaking barriers and representing his family, community, and Latinos in academia. 


“I have been the only Latino at the table many times...we think in the Valley that it’s like that everywhere and no, once you leave, the world changes. It’s a whole different ball game, but it’s definitely helped me grow,” said Dr. Valle. “The reason I have stayed is to advocate for Latino students and all of our kids. There’s a lot of students in West Texas that need that.” 


As part of his role, Dr. Valle is also proud to give back to his alma mater currently serving as a Faculty Coach for the Principal Residency Program at PSJA ISD offered in partnership with Texas Tech.


The Principal Residency is funded by a Texas Education Agency grant of up to $350,000 aimed to help support five PSJA ISD staff members to become campus Principals thus helping to increase the number of well prepared, diverse instructional leaders, ready to assume campus leadership positions when they become available. PSJA ISD was among only 14 school districts in the state to receive this competitive grant. 


“I get to go into the elementary and middle schools, reconnect, and leave PSJA ISD with incredible instructional leaders. It’s powerful to come full circle,” he said. “We’re very proud of the program. I am grateful for the opportunity to bring a state and nationally recognized program to PSJA ISD.” 


Dr. Valle's areas of expertise include instructional coaching as well as Latino, instructional, and competency-based leadership. He will begin serving in his new role as the Chair of the Department of Teacher Education in the College of Education at Texas Tech University effective June 1, 2022.