UTeach Arlington Celebrates 100 Graduates

UTeach Arlington Celebrates 100 Graduates

04.20.2016

This weekend, UTeach Arlington celebrates having graduated 100 secondary math and science teachers. This is a particularly notable accomplishment since the program is relatively new and has been producing graduates for just three years. 

Ashley Welch, manager of site support for the UTeach Institute and site coordinator for UTeach Arlington, attributes UTeach Arlington’s admirable accomplishment to three main factors: leadership, recruitment, and staffing.

“From the very beginning of the program, UTeach Arlington was led by three dynamic, committed co-directors, who held a shared vision for the program and brought their various talents to the table in ways that set them up for success,” she says. “The program placed a big emphasis on recruiting, which was extremely effective: 90 students signed up for the first class in Fall 2010, and their recruiting numbers rose even higher in subsequent years. 

“In addition to recruiting a large pipeline of students into the program, UTeach Arlington brought together an amazing team of master teachers, faculty, and staff.  This team has provided students with a supportive environment within which to grow and flourish as STEM majors and potential future STEM teachers.”

UTeach Arlington was established in 2010, and in that time has earned a reputation in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as a top-rate STEM teacher preparation pipeline. One school in particular, Irving High School, has capitalized on UTA’s bona fides by hiring 10 alumni in the past two years. Says principal Ahna Gomez, “The program is preparing students in content areas that are highly underrepresented in our community. Their eagerness and enthusiasm for teaching the subject is reflected in what they do every day.”

Jennifer West, who graduated in 2014 with UTeach Arlington’s first cohort, was one of the first teachers hired out of UTeach by Ms. Gomez. She teaches Pre-AP Chemistry and AP Environmental Science at Irving High and highly values her UTeach experience. “Our classes actually felt useful, not like we were just learning random things that would never be asked about again,” she writes via email. “I actually ended up adding on a year to my degree because I was almost a senior when I found out about it, but I was so impressed with the program that I decided it was worth it. I’m so glad I did!”

Irving High Physics teacher Molly Komisarz says, “This is my first year teaching and I was a little overwhelmed at the beginning of the year. I reached out to two of the UTeach Arlington master teachers and they helped me tremendously. I have also received a lot of support from my fellow alums at Irving. It's great to be able to share a similar mindset on teaching with my peers.”

UTeach Arlington’s 100th graduate celebration takes place this Saturday, April 23, at 3:30 p.m., in Nedderman Hall on the University of Texas, Arlington campus. Bernard Harris, a former astronaut who now runs a foundation focused on STEM education, health, and financial literacy issues, will give a keynote address. “If there is such a thing as a ‘Rock Star of STEM,’ Dr. Harris is it,” says Dr. Greg Hale, UTeach-Arlington co-director.

It’s not too late to RSVP to attend the reception and keynote address.

UTeach is an acclaimed, university-based secondary STEM teacher preparation program begun at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 and replicated by universities nationwide. More than 6,000 students are currently enrolled in UTeach programs at 44 universities in 21 states and the District of Columbia. UTeach programs have produced more than 2,600 graduates. UTeach allows students to earn a rigorous STEM degree and teaching certification within four years and focuses on inquiry- and project-based teaching methods.