NBC News Learn brought together a large group that included researchers, civic leaders, psychological experts, veteran educators, and child advocates.

Principal Diana del Pilar (far right) took part in the Learning Without Limits panel. She was accompanied by Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk; Rick Cruz, chief strategy and innovation officer at HISD; Director Dr. Ruth López Turley with Houston Education Research Consortium at Rice University; and NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis (r-l).


Principal Diana del Pilar of Avalos P-TECH School took center stage along with education experts and child advocates at a nationally televised town hall broadcast on Sept. 24 by NBC News Learn, the educational division of NBC News.

The broadcast event, which was held at the University of Houston-Downtown and supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, included several panels discussing various aspects of education. 

NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis moderated the event, which was broadcast in partnership with KPRC 2. The town hall brought together a large group that included researchers, civic leaders, psychology experts, veteran educators, and child advocates.

Del Pilar took part in a panel discussion on preparing students for success. She served as a panelist on the Learning Without Limits panel, where she discussed the importance of knowing students’ needs to target supports (e.g., academic support, social-emotional support, mentorship, tutoring) to ensure students have every possibility to succeed.

The former Aldine ISD grad also described how she used technology to obtain and review data to strategically make decisions that impact all students at her campus. She made it my business to know her students’ strengths and weaknesses before the start of school.

“Every student is me,” stated del Pilar. “Imagine if every leader and teacher felt this way and worked with this thought in mind.”

Del Pilar opened Avalos Pathways in Technology Early College High (P-TECH) School this school year. Avalos scholars have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, workforce certificates, industry credentials, and an associate’s degree in four years at no cost. In collaboration with industry partners and Lone Star College, Avalos offers four programs — CISCO Network Analyst, Inspection Certificate, Paralegal, and Teacher Preparation — in which students can earn workforce certificates and associate’s degrees from Lone Star College. Students will be career-ready through work-based learning experiences, including in-school mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, and employment skills instruction.

Alex Hales Elizondo, CEO of Good Reason Houston, who took part in an earlier panel, lauded Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney. Good Reason Houston launched a partnership with Aldine ISD in fall 2018.

“An ‘A’ school isn’t a reality for all kids, but it can be,” stated Elizondo. “One leader that is inspiring me right now is Dr. LaTonya Goffney. She has a bold vision for Aldine ISD, and the philanthropic and business community are excited to get behind that.”

Watch the video clip of the panel‘s discussion.

All the features, as well as a recap of the town hall, can be found online at nbcnews.com/learnhouston.

View the story that aired locally on KPRC.