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AWARE Awards Banquet

May 10, 2016

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen.  On behalf of the more than 53,000 students at Tarrant County’s R-1 University, welcome to the University of Texas at Arlington.  It is our pleasure and honor to have you celebrate 27 years of the AWARE foundation on our campus – 27 years of honoring our very best teachers – which also means 27 years of celebrating what our teachers have enabled – a long list of wonderful students, some of whom could well be in the room today as teachers and principals themselves.

Let me at the very outset extend my deep appreciation, gratitude, and admiration for the wonderful work done by these educators who light the lamp for the pursuit of knowledge in our youth and ensure that it not only stays on, but that it burns brightly setting the stage for wonderful futures for each of the students so influenced, and through them, for our collective future.

Let me also thank the AWARE foundation for celebrating excellence, honoring the very best teachers, those who pour their heart and soul every day into what they do, educating and teaching our children, developing in them skills that will shape not just their careers but the prosperity of Arlington and the region. 

The University of Texas Arlington is where it is today, poised to become one of the pre-eminent universities in the nation because of what you do, often unheralded, every day.  We will award over 10,500 degrees this academic year because of the tremendous preparation that students get in schools before they even set foot at UTA from wonderful teachers such as you.  The city of Arlington is booming because of your dedication.  The DFW Metroplex is growing – geographically and economically because of how you teach, motivate, nurture, and inspire.  Because of what you do every minute, every hour, every day, not only are you creating a learned citizenry, a pipeline ready for college or the workforce, but you are ensuring a better future for the current generation and for decades into the future.  There is nothing more important for our future than a strong and invigorating school system – and you make that possible.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you – without your selfless devotion all of us would be unable to succeed.  You make it possible for universities to excel, you make it possible for cities to thrive, you make it possible for the United States to continue to be the intellectual and driving center for the world.

I recognize that we have many challenges ahead of us, but with the work of dedicated and inspirational teachers such as those we are honoring today – these challenges are minor speed bumps along the road.  I have committed to Superintendent Cavazos that we will be united in enabling a better future for our students and to creating a strong, robust, innovative, and relevant educational system for our youth.  

From K-through-Gray we will lead the region and the nation, and we will do this because of what you inspire and enable.  UTA is proud to collaborate and integrate efforts with our school districts through our GO Centers, the Bound for Success Program, the STEM academy at Martin High School, the innovative Education Academy which will bring our students back as highly trained teachers for which we signed a agreement just last month, and other innovative strategies yet to be unveiled. 

Earlier this week we signed a landmark agreement with TCC that enables the two institutions to identify potential transfer students early in their academic careers and guide each student along a clear pathway to a college degree.  Admissions counselors will advise transfer students on degree plans and which courses will count toward their intended degree, assisting prospective transfer students avoid courses that won’t count toward their major, saving money and time toward degree completion.  Prospective transfer students will essentially be pre-admitted to UTA and will not need to file a separate application, again decreasing the barriers to progression.  Further students will be able to “lock-in” rates of tuition at UTA using the guaranteed tuition plan to ensure a constant rate for four years from their start as first time college students.

It is my hope that between UTA, AISD, and TCC we will provide tremendous pipelines and pathways of opportunity for all our students, not just for an education, but also to enable them to dream big, to reach for the stars, to achieve what others may have thought impossible, and to do this in the context of enhancing our city and our community.

Noted historian Henry Adams said “A teacher affects eternity.  He can never tell where his influence stops” – and how very true that is – your influence is undeniable and limitless.  Thank you for all that you do for us, our children, and our future.  Our futures are bright because of you and for that you have our respect and gratitude – Thank you again.