Jennifer West was sitting in her biochemistry class when her professor announced a guest speaker. Ann Cavallo was there to talk about the UTeach Arlington program.
Dr. Cavallo, associate dean for research and graduate studies, co-directs the unique program that helps STEM majors also prepare for careers in the classroom. It's a collaborative effort that provides early and intensive field experiences and support for teacher candidates in the high-demand STEM fields. West signed up.
"I'm so glad I was able to go into the UTeach program," she says. "I was so well-prepared." West graduated with a degree in biology in 2014 and now teaches Advanced Placement Chemistry at Irving High School.
UTeach began at UT Austin in 1997 and debuted at UTA in 2010, where it has been supported by generous donors that include Texas Instruments, AT&T, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Participants are eligible for special scholarships and internships.
"[UTeach is] significantly impacting the next generation of college students and STEM professionals.”
The program allows students to concurrently earn a degree while working toward a career in education. Its mission is to help overcome the shortage of highly qualified secondary math and science teachers in Texas.
In April, UTeach alumni gathered to celebrate a program milestone of graduating 100 students.
Cavallo attributes the program's success to the dedication of its faculty and staff, including UTeach Arlington co-directors Greg Hale, assistant dean in the College of Science, and Ramon Lopez, professor of physics, as well as mentor teachers and administrators from partner school districts.
"Every 100 UTeach teachers we graduate means 15,000 students in our schools will experience the highest quality of science and mathematics teaching and learning each year, significantly impacting the next generation of college students and STEM professionals," Cavallo says.