Wednesday, August 19, 2020

By Victoria Brito

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Almost 200 school psychologists and other school personnel from across the state participated in the TASP 2020 Virtual Summer Institute, hosted by UTRGV, the Texas Association of School Psychologists (TASP) and SEL4TX.

Held June 18-19, the virtual event, themed “Promoting Equity,” was an opportunity for school psychologists to discuss social justice and other issues children and families may be facing during these unprecedented times, said Dr. Nancy Peña Razo, UTRGV associate professor in practice in the UTRGV Department of Human Development and School Services and chair of the TASP Summer Institute.

“As school psychologists, we work with all children, and so it is important to understand the issues that some may be facing,” Razo said. “It is also important to be a voice for children and families who may not have a voice, to be able to advocate for their needs.” 

The keynote speaker was Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and a 1977 graduate of UTRGV legacy institution Pan American University. Her topic was “Accompanying the Suffering: What True Leadership Looks Like.”

“Social justice starts with recognizing one another, recognizing and hearing our stories and understanding who we are so that we have the right to be present, to be here,” Pimentel said. “That's where true leadership comes from.”

The two-day event featured sessions on human trafficking, promoting equity and social justice, and social emotional learning (SEL). The conference also offered SEL training, which is now required to be implemented in Texas schools as directed by Texas SB11.

The last day of the institute recognized Juneteenth and how important it is for school psychologists to continue to promote equity in schools.

“This conference was structured to build awareness of the need for equity among diverse groups, which school psychologists and school personnel need to better serve those groups who desire to be heard and understood,” Razo said.

To learn more about TASP, visit

For more information on how to earn a Master of Arts in School Psychology at UTRGV, visit the Department of Human Development and School Services or email


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.