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UTeach Arlington looks to build on success of first year

Matsler
Matsler

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.

“We’re proud to have set the record for first semester recruiting for a UTeach replication site, and we look forward to breaking more records in the future,” said Greg Hale, UTeach Arlington co-director and assistant College of Science dean.

The program also has two new Master Teachers, doubling the number from a year ago. Karen Jo Matsler joined the program in the spring and Jacqueline Weilmuenster is starting this Fall 2011 semester. Matsler is a Master Teacher in Science and Weilmuenster is a Master Teacher in Mathematics. They join Master Teachers Lee Ann Snell-Burke (Science) and Marsha Scott (Mathematics), who are beginning their second year with the program.

Matsler, who grew up in Lubbock, received a Doctor of Education 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 have always been involved with professional development for teachers. I love working with them, 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.

Weilmuenster
Weilmuenster

“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, Tenn., 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.”

Continuing students are taking their first College of Education course, Knowing and Learning, this fall. Yolanda Parker and Kevin White, assistant professors in the College of Education and Health Professions, are teaching the course.

For more on UTeach Arlington, click here.