Jump to main content

Cumbres Program Helps Shape the Future of Education

Office of Alumni RelationsOffice of Alumni Relations
August 28, 2023

Many programs and scholarships at UNC make a difference in students’ lives and in the community, but the multifaceted approach from the Cumbres Teacher Preparation Program is unique. Cumbres supports undergraduate students pursuing a degree in education who declare an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLD) through a four-pronged approach.

Cumbres’ Residential Learning Community and the learning community in the classroom are the first two components, helping first-year students get to know their peers and build a sense of community. The Residential Learning Community’s residential advisor is an upper-level Cumbres student, offering additional support and guidance where needed.

The third component incorporates mentorship, connecting students with an upper-level Cumbres peer mentor and an experienced teacher
in Greeley-Evans School District 6 as a professional mentor. By meeting with teacher-mentors twice each semester, students get into the classroom and gain valuable on-the-job experience.

Lastly, through collaboration with K-12 teachers, partners on campus and workshops held every month on various topics, the program encourages students to develop the leadership skills necessary to have a long and successful career.

The multifaceted and holistic approach taken by the Cumbres program supports both UNC students and increasingly diverse classrooms. The value of a program like Cumbres is evident in the number of alumni working in education who continually choose to contribute.

“Each year many UNC and Cumbres alumni are paying it forward, supporting the next generation of culturally and linguistically diverse teachers, with their generous donations and sponsorship. On behalf of the Cumbres team, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and all of the current and future teachers, we thank our alumni most sincerely,” says Aldo Romero M.A. ’10, Ph.D. ’13, the program’s director.

Even UNC alumni who did not participate in Cumbres see the value of the program. Steve Moreno ’58, M.A. ’65, Ed.D. ’67 and his wife Kay have given
to Cumbres for many years, most recently providing a matching gift opportunity in support of Cumbres for Bears Give Back day of giving in April. Thanks to the Morenos and other dedicated donors, Cumbres received generous philanthropic support during the one-day event with all of the funds directly benefiting the program.

Moreno worked in education his entire life. He spent his first seven years after graduating from UNC teaching 5th and 6th grade in Brighton and Denver Public Schools, learning the value of eager students and dedicated teachers. Some of Moreno’s students even went on to graduate from UNC — something he is very proud of. After his time in the classroom, Moreno later became a school psychologist and finished his career spending 29 years as a professor of science education at San Diego State University. Through these experiences, he’s seen the importance of having teachers who can provide for every student in the classroom — one reason why he and Kay feel strongly to continue their support of UNC and the meaningful work of Cumbres. The Morenos have two daughters who have followed in their father’s footsteps, Carla, an art teacher, and Karina, a principal, forging their own careers as educators.

It is the hope of the Morenos that their own philanthropy inspires others to give. “We support the program because we care about the students, UNC, and the value of education. Being a part of the Cumbres donor and alumni community is an honor and something we hold dear. We look forward to continuing our commitment to Cumbres and encourage others to consider the same.”

It’s easy to see Cumbres is a special program. From local school districts to alumni and community leaders to members of UNC’s Board of Trustees, donors of the Cumbres program value a comprehensive approach to fostering the next generation of teachers and investing in current students to build a future where all students are supported.