The Leach Family
Chris Leach ('07 BAIS)
Elizabeth "Liz" Leach ('13 M.Ed., Educational Leadership and Policy Studies; '08 BSIS)
Tell us about yourselves.
Chris was born and raised in Odessa, Texas. Liz is originally from Massachusetts but spent much of her childhood in Arlington after moving across the country with her parents and seven siblings. We continue to reside in Arlington with their our children.
Why did you choose to attend UTA?
Liz: Growing up in Arlington gave me an insider view of UTA. After graduating from Arlington High School, right up the road from the UTA campus, I attended the local junior college and transferred to UTA. I decided to stay close by not only to be near my younger siblings, but because I enjoyed what the university and city offered me.
Chris: I also attended a junior college in my hometown in West Texas but I always wanted to move to a larger city. After visiting the DFW area on a weekend trip, I saw a sign for UTA on Cooper Street and decided that being in the middle of the metroplex was the place for me. I returned home to Odessa and immediately applied to transfer to UTA.
What did you study at UTA? What attracted you to those fields?
Chris: My approach to college was to learn interesting things. The interdisciplinary studies degree allowed me to explore topics and courses while keeping me on track to graduate. The capstone course in the final semester was a creative outlet that prepared me for continuing my education at the graduate level.
Liz: I spent my time at UTA studying education and teaching methods. I have always enjoyed helping others and that is what teaching is all about. After graduating with a bachelor's degree I began teaching in the community, within a two mile radius of UTA. In 2013 I graduated with a master's degree and earned a principal certification. I was ready to have a greater impact in the education of kids in my community.
Describe your UTA experiences. How did UTA help prepare you for your careers?
Chris: The most remarkable thing about my time at UTA was the people who I met along the way. They were all from different backgrounds and cultures. I was surrounded by a group of creative people and UTA was a place where this was celebrated. I made lifelong friends with people who I met at UTA, including my wife.
Liz: I loved my time at UTA. I feel like the location of the campus gives you so much freedom to try new things as a young adult. Whether exploring Dallas, Fort Worth, or Arlington, there are many options available for entertainment and fun. As an education major, I noticed that the final two years of UTA were invaluable. This was when classroom observations began and real-life application of our teaching skills were put to use. In my final year at UTA, I was hired as an Early Childhood Assistant (EAC), which was a paid partnership between Arlington ISD and UTA. This program provided me with the absolute best job training and a lifelong mentor. Over the course of a school year, UTA seniors would observe in one kindergarten classroom and slowly begin to lead the group over time with guidance. After 16 years, I continue to use skills I learned during my time as an ECA.
"Education is important. The time, energy, and resources you put into your education will pay off. Everyone is rooting for you!"
What are your current professional positions? What do you do in these roles?
Chris: I am a special education teacher in Irving ISD at a disciplinary placement campus. I am also a certified school counselor and provide both crisis and drug prevention counseling. Each day I work with students to help them solve problems and remove barriers to success.
Liz: I am the dean of instruction at Pearcy STEM Academy in Arlington ISD. This administrative position makes me responsible for the quality of education on the campus of more than 550 students. I lead the campus alongside my principal and assistant principal, coach teachers and staff members to maximize their effectiveness, and make decisions that will have positive outcomes for the students.
Describe your path to your current positions. What have you learned along the way?
Chris: After graduating in 2007 I began teaching while enrolled in an alternative certification program. I taught at-risk students for seven years and realized that much of your time was spent listening and helping students problem solve, so it only seemed natural to pursue a master's degree in school counseling. I graduated in 2018 with my first master's and then in 2022 with my Master of Professional Counseling degree. As I continue to grow as a student, teacher, and counselor I have learned that people ask for help in many different ways and it is my responsibility as an educator to find ways to support and guide them to be successful.
Liz: I have been lucky to have various opportunities in my education career. I began as a classroom teacher and soon started hosting student teachers from both AISD high schools and UTA. I enjoyed giving back to the education community after my student teaching was so beneficial. I became an interventionist supporting at-risk students, as instructional coach to mentor teachers, and explored different avenues in school administration. I am extremely passionate about educating our younger generation and I advocate to support and educate my colleagues on creating literate members of our society. Dr. Tice in the education department at UTA began that literacy fire in me years ago and I am forever thankful.
What's one lesson you learned at UTA that has stayed with you still today?
Chris: Stick with it. Keep going and you will eventually reach your goal.
Liz: Anyone can graduate. Anyone. You just have to persevere. You just have to show grit and finish. Don't worry about how long it may take, just do it.
What message do you have for the next generation of UTA graduates?
Chris: Enjoy learning. Don't be in a rush. Take it all in.
Liz: Education is important. The time, energy, and resources you put into your education will pay off. Everyone is rooting for you!
Anything else you would like to share?
There's no talking on the 5th floor of the library. Shhhhhhhhh.