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UTeach Brownsville Launches with the Sound of a Bell

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 21, 2012 – The resounding toll of The University of Texas at Brownville’s bronze bell officially launched the UTeach Brownsville program, Tuesday, Aug. 21, at a press conference in the lobby of the Science, Engineering and Technology Building.

Junior mathematics major Jessica Capistran stood in front of an audience of representatives from UTB administration and faculty, UTeach Austin, and superintendents and administrators from several school districts. Surrounded by her fellow UTeach Brownsville students, she rang the bell signaling the start of the newest educational program.

“Since middle school, I’ve had teachers who have impacted my life,” said Capistran, 20, who was in the STEMS program when she was in junior high and high school. “I applied for this program because UTeach will prepare me to teach what I love the most, mathematics. I want to teach math at a high school when I graduate in 2014.”

Fifty students have been accepted into the program so far, and administrators expect the number will increase before classes start on Monday, Aug. 27.

“We have long said that the best gift we can give the community are well-trained master teachers,” said Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President. “We believe the UTeach Brownsville program will change the educational landscape in the Rio Grande Valley.”

The UTeach Brownsville program in the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology will allow students to receive teacher certification while earning a degree in mathematics or science through a collaborative partnership with the College of Education.

UTeach Brownsville is financed in large part by a $500,000 grant from the Greater Texas Foundation, which is also supporting UTeach at UT Pan American. Better preparation in math and science is part of the foundation’s mission of ensuring “all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete post-secondary education.”

“The need for more high quality math and science teachers is well established,” said Wynn Rosser, President and CEO of the Greater Texas Foundation. “The Foundation is pleased to support a proven approach, like UTeach, to serve the Rio Grande Valley.”

The UTeach model is a replication of best practices already established by UT Austin's UTeach program and is a part of the greater UT System’s Rio Grande Valley Initiative.

Daniela Parra, an incoming freshman Biology major and UTeach Brownsville student, said the program offers another option for his future.

“Being a teacher has always been a dream of mine,” Parra said. “There’s no harm in trying something before jumping in completely. It never hurts to expand your horizons.

Dr. Mikhail Bouniaev, Dean of the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology, described the program as a historic moment in the development of the UTB. He said that this program represents a new level of collaboration between the school districts of the area and the university.

“The opportunity for students interested in pursuing a course of study in these areas of discipline in a profession that I often refer to as a vocation is phenomenal,” said Johnny Pineda, Raymondville ISD Superintendent. “I applaud the University of Texas at Brownsville for their foresight as we continue to reinvent ourselves for the next generation of students.”

Students who are accepted into the program can earn a degree with teacher certification in four years and receive intensive field experience beginning their first semester at UTB while receiving individual support and mentoring by faculty and master teachers. There are also opportunities for scholarships and paid internships.

“Students earn valuable teaching experience at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, and this can translate into job opportunities for graduates of the program,” said Dr. Roger Contreras. “When you join UTeach, you increase the number of career options.”

The UTeach curriculum requires incoming freshmen majoring in science and mathematics with the goal of becoming a teacher to enroll in the first UTeach course, Step 1, during their first semester in order to complete all degree requirements and graduate on time.

Step 1 and Step 2 are the first two one-hour courses of the nine required and are referred to as the recruitment courses. These courses allow students to experience hands-on what careers as K-12 teachers would entail.

Step 1 students will teach lessons in elementary classrooms. Step 2 students will teach three inquiry-based lessons to middle school students. Students completing each of these courses will receive a tuition reimbursement.

“UTeach will give UTB the chance to be innovative and the College of Education wholeheartedly welcomes their support,” said Dr. Reynaldo Ramirez, associate professor and chair in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Innovation and co-director of the program.

“We are looking forward to working with our first student cohort and next great teachers.”

To learn more about UTeach Brownsville, contact Dr. Roger Contreras at 956-882-6635 or roger.contreras@utb.edu or Dr. Reynaldo Ramirez at 956-882-7255 or reynaldo.ramirez@utb.edu.

 

 

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