The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science Fall 2011  

UTeach Arlington

Teacher training program building on success

Matsler Weilmuenster
     The UTeach Arlington program is beginning its second year this fall after its initial year exceeded all expectations. The program, UT Arlington's replication of a highly successful science and math teacher preparation program which originated at UT Austin, welcomes 128 new students this fall, along with returning students who are now sophomores.
     This surge in enrollment follows the program's smashing success last year, when 90 students signed up for the initial semester, a record for UTeach replication programs.
     The program also has two new Master Teachers, doubling the number from a year ago. Karen Jo Matsler (science) joined the program in the spring and Jacqueline Weilmuenster (math) started this Fall 2011 semester. They join Master Teachers Lee Ann Snell-Burke (Science) and Marsha Scott (Mathematics), who are beginning their second years with the program.
     Matsler, who grew up in Lubbock, received a D.Ed. degree from Argosy University, and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Education from Texas Tech University. She has spent 32 years in education, starting at Hutchinson Junior High in Lubbock. She spent 16 years as a science teacher at Lamar High School in Arlington, four years as the K-12 science coordinator in the Birdville school district and 11 years as an adjunct professor in Physics and Education at Dallas Baptist University.
     Her fields of specialty are in secondary science (physics, biology); curriculum development and instruction; and professional development. She likes the concept behind UTeach, which puts its students in the classroom teaching environment early on and lets them get a clear appreciation for what the job entails.
     "It is a plan that should have been done long ago," Matsler said. "I never understood why we only let students (pre-service) go to and work in classrooms the semester before they graduate. It is too late then to decide if they like teaching. Many teach anyway because they can't, or won't, change their major at that point. That is not good for anyone. UTeach prepares them from the beginning. They graduate with lots of experience, they know they want to teach, they have been in all grade levels, and they have strong content backgrounds.
     "I love working with professional development for teachers, but felt I was always trying to fix the wheel while it was rolling, meaning when teachers are already out working in the classroom. I figured it would be better to try to help pre-service teachers before they graduate. UT Arlington is a growing university with a lot of great things going on in terms of academics and research. It is a privilege to be a part of it.
     "I get to do all the things I love to do: help students write engaging lessons, help them prepare and present the lessons, develop professional relationships with mentor teachers, observe how other great teachers manage their classroom, and work with students who are excited about teaching as a possible career. What else could you ask for in a job?"
     Weilmuenster, a native of El Paso, began her college career at Texas Western University (now UT El Paso), transferring to UT Austin where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics and English. She went on to earn an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from the University of North Texas. She has 33 years' experience in education, including teaching jobs in Montville, N. J., Nashville, Tennessee, and in the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. She served as a mathematics instructional coach and K- 12 mathematics coordinator for the Grapevine-Colleyville and Northwest school districts.
     Her fields of specialty are in secondary mathematics curriculum, assessment and instruction. She is particularly interested in professional development for teachers in the areas of action research, lesson study, and structures of knowledge. She also serves on the expert review committee involved in revising mathematics standards in Texas schools.
     "UTA is an inviting place to learn," she said. "There are so many opportunities available, and UTeach Arlington is arguably one of the best programs benefitting students here in the Metroplex. The primary reason for the UTeach program's success is the focus on best practices in instruction. Students experience the finest content-based mentoring and support throughout their four years of study and beyond.
     "It's both an exciting and challenging responsibility to provide the high standard of preparation set up within the UTeach program for our future math and science teachers."