Innovation Excellence


Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence that use technology to inspire creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. And Harlingen CISD’s Zavala Elementary has been recognized as one of them for 2018-2021.


“We are thrilled to be recognized as an Apple Distinguished School,” said principal Tanya Garza. “This recognition reflects the hard work, planning, professional learning, and innovation that is used to personalize instruction for every student. Zavala Elementary is a campus that nurtures creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. Technology is embedded throughout the environment which empowers students and teachers to use different modalities to inspire an innovative mindset.”


Apple Distinguished Schools showcase innovative uses of technology in learning, teaching, and the school environment and have documented results of academic accomplishment.


Zavala students participate in authentic digital content and invest in their learning through differentiated instruction. Students are encouraged to think outside the box and take risks as they engage in the adventures of academic pursuit.


“Our teachers customize student learning environments so students can become effective collaborators and communicators,” Garza said. “In turn, this fosters students to become critical thinkers within their classrooms, across grade levels, and within our community.”

Garza said that the campus will release a book called “Tell Our Story.” The book focuses on the five best practices that promote continuous innovation and how Zavala transformed into a 1:1 learning environment. It will be available in the iBooks Store later this year.


Zavala Elementary was selected to receive an Apple grant as part of the ConnectED program in 2014. In 2017, Garza and instructional coach Erika Galvan were named to the Apple Distinguished Educators Class.