UTeach - Liberal Arts

UTeach-Liberal Arts Featured Alumni


LEAH BERNIE • UTeach-LA Social Studies ’09

My favorite UTeach memory was being in Mr. Kieke's 303 class…. I felt very at home, had a TON of individualized attention, and learned many things that I use in my classes on a daily basis.  In that class, I knew I had made the right choice in coming back to UT for my teaching certification.

Since graduating from UTeach, I moved to Killeen, TX to teach at Killeen HS.  I have been here three years, and have taught geography, world history, AP US History, IB History of the Americas and government.  I am currently teaching AP US History and IB History of the Americas and coordinating the IB Programme.  The latter is a new job title for me this year, and is very challenging and exciting all at once.

I also got married last year, and am coming up on my one year anniversary in November.

My favorite UTeach memory was being in Mr. Kieke's 303 class with only two other students who were also post-bacs.  I felt very at home, had a TON of individualized attention, and learned many things that I use in my classes on a daily basis.  In that class, I knew I had made the right choice in coming back to UT for my teaching certification.

UTeach has helped me in SO many ways!  I searched around for the program that I felt would best prepare me for my first year of teaching, and UTeach did not disappoint.  There are so many classroom management skills that I use each day, it's not even funny.  I learned how to ask students to think at a higher level, and enjoy the process.  UTeach has also connected me with an incredible network of teachers.  I still regularly contact Mr. Kieke for advice and help, and last year, I was able to bring two classes of students to come hear him give a "college style lecture," tour the UT Campus and examine documents at the LBJ Library.  My students today benefit immensely from the instruction and opportunities I received in the UTeach program. 

EFREN GIL • UTeach-LA Social Studies ’09

UTeach gave me the opportunity to obtain classroom experience before I had to student-teach. By then, I had full confidence that I was entering the profession I always wanted to be in.  

Currently I am the Lead 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Ojeda Middle School in DVISD.

After graduating, I had several interviews, with little promise, due to budget shortages.  I met with one HR recruiter at a job fair who I had spoken to previously at other job fairs and she set an interview for me.  I applied to teach in an alternative program at a local high school.   The AP that I interviewed with later got selected to be the new Principal at the school that I am at, and he wanted me to come with him.  I think I got really lucky.

Personally, my family has grown to 4, and I continue to watch my boys grow up so fast.  Noah is in 1st grade and Jonah just turned 2.

My favorite memory is having class with Mr Kieke.  There were only 8 of us and we had him for 2 semesters.  

UTeach gave me the opportunity to obtain classroom experience before I had to student-teach. By then, I had full confidence that I was entering the profession I always wanted to be in.  The knowledge from the master teachers (Lopez, Kieke, LaGrone) was very useful and practical.  


REBECCA HERNANDEZ •
UTeach-LA Spanish ’03

I have so many great memories of UTeach!  Going to TFLA [Texas Foreign Language Association conference] in Fort Worth was one of the best times I had!  

Middle School Spanish Teacher at Gorzycki Middle School

After I graduated from UT I got a job teaching Spanish 1 and 2 in Smithville, Texas.  I stayed there for 2 years and served as the department head. Then I moved back to Austin to teach at Bowie High School.  While at Bowie I taught Spanish 1, 2 and 3 Pre AP. Three years ago I decided to move from HS to MS because my son was starting middle school.  Opening the new Gorzycki middle school was fun!  

I have so many great memories of UTeach!  Going to TFLA [Texas Foreign Language Association conference] in Fort Worth was one of the best times I had!  

I was fortunate to have been accepted into the program.  UTeach helped me and continues to help me in so many ways.  Being in the classroom for so many years was great!  I love that I am still able to contact any master teacher to get advice or help if needed.  


EMILY HUNT NEWTON • UTeach-LA English ’10

Teaching is such a juggling act; you juggle the roles you play from moment to moment.  I like to think of my master teachers and mentors as the jugglers capable of throwing knives in the air while standing on a beach ball and singing "Ave Maria."

Current job title: English I- Childress and English I Pre-AP teacher

(I am what we call a "Childress" teacher on my campus. The Childress Foundation Academy is a specialized academy at Northbrook designed to encourage and prepare students for post-secondary education. Students are admitted upon teacher recommendation and must participate in 25 hours of community service a semester, as well as maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher. College scholarships are awarded each year to 4-year Childress students, and I have the privilege of leading these students in several volunteer activities throughout the year.)

Upon graduating [from UTeach-LA], I moved to Houston and began working as an English I teacher at Northbrook HS of Spring Branch ISD. My first year of teaching was certainly a challenge; it will be for anyone, I believe. No amount of observation hours, practice, or guidance can fully prepare you for the moment you find yourself attempting (by yourself!) to wear the many different hats required of you as a teacher. One moment you wear your "disciplinarian" hat because a student is running around with scissors. The very next you pop on your "professional and courteous" hat to field a parent phone call. Upon hanging up, you see tears in a student's eyes and grab your "compassionate" hat to question and comfort. And then to the lesson! You realize you only copied the front page of a two-page assignment, so you shove on your "problem solving" sombrero and barrel through your mistake. Teaching is such a juggling act; you juggle the roles you play from moment to moment. Sometimes you drop a ball, but all you can do is pick it right up and begin again! I like to think of my master teachers and mentors as the jugglers capable of throwing knives in the air while standing on a beach ball and singing "Ave Maria." As I head into my 2nd year of teaching, I am dropping the ball less and less, and I know my juggling skills will only continue to improve from year to year.

While I loved so many individual "teaching" moments throughout my years in UTeach-LA, the memory I hold most dear to me is an end-of-the-program dinner with every member of my Spring 2010 cohort and a dear master teacher whom we all admired. We spent two hours munching Mexican food and reflecting together, as a group, upon the things we had learned and experienced. We even voted on superlatives and determined who would be "most likely to be back at UT as a grad student" or who would be "most likely to be the cheerleading coach" or "debate teacher." That dinner showcased how beautiful our individual personalities really were and allowed us to see how each of us had been molded into a fabulous teacher throughout our classes and internships.

UTeach-LA challenged me to develop a strong understanding of why I am called to be a teacher. Because of my master teachers, the articles they put in my hands, the conversations we had in class, and the texts we read, I was able to craft a solid teaching philosophy that I have carried with me to school every day. I came to realize that being an educator was the most direct way for me to lift the hearts of the people which will someday carry society on its shoulders. It is my privilege to provide a little constancy and peace for my students and a place in which they feel comfortable taking risks, asking questions, exploring their world, and simply being human.

CHRISTINE LAWLESS • UTeach-LA English ’07

My favorite UTeach Liberal Arts memory is the support the cohort provided…. To continue the cycle, I was able to host a UTeach student intern last Spring. I saw in her, as well, how much a cohort of fellow classmates guided her in the process.

After graduating from UT in December of 2007, I immediately accepted a position teaching English III and IV at Austin High School. My UTeach training and departmental support at AHS made for a great first year. Since then, I have been teaching English I with a strong group of teachers, several of whom also graduated from the UTeach program. Now that my husband has a job he loves in the Austin area, we plan to stay here as I continue to grow in my career.

My favorite UTeach Liberal Arts memory is the support the cohort provided. I had a small class of about eight students graduating in December. During our Internship, we would meet weekly at Central Market to debrief. Transitioning to an eight (sometimes ten and twelve) hour work day is a challenge for college students. On top of that, the energy it takes to plan, teach, and grade was overwhelming for many of us. However, the moment we sat down at Central Market to share our "highs and lows" of the day, we were all reminded why we love teaching. We celebrated our successes and encouraged each other in our weaknesses. I remember having a difficult day with a struggling student and feeling like I should give up when a colleague of mine shared a success in her classroom. Hearing her story helped me to keep going. To continue the cycle, I was able to host a UTeach student intern last Spring. I saw in her, as well, how much a cohort of fellow classmates guided her in the process.

UTeach Liberal Arts has given me the tools and experience I need to be successful in the classroom. I am blessed to have a wonderful team at Austin High. On top of their support, I always have UTeach experiences to guide me. The time spent observing in classrooms for five semesters is priceless. I have used units I wrote on To Kill a Mockingbird and lessons I taught during UTeach in my own classroom. I still turn to Dr. Shiring's binders for ideas on how to analyze a poem, keep students engaged, and provide student choice. I turn to my professor's notes on how to use before, during, and after reading strategies and differentiate for struggling learners. Five years into my career, and I still hear the voices of my classmates and professors encouraging me. We have a connection that can't be broken.

 

JEFF MARTINDALE • UTeach-LA Social Studies ’03

UTeach-Liberal Arts provided a practical, real-world approach to education from people who spent years and years in the classroom themselves. 

[Since graduating from the UTeach-Liberal Arts program:]

  1. I taught Pre-AP and Regular World Geography for a year and a half at Georgetown High School's Ninth Grade Campus immediately following my graduation.
  2. I am currently in my seventh year at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville.  I teach AP World History and AP European History.
  3. I am a member of our AVID Site Team and I am also one of the advisers for Hendrickson's chapter of the National Honor Society.
  4. I have served as a Reader for the AP Exam in World History for four years.
  5. I was selected for "Who's Who Among America's Teachers."  The district has also asked me on a couple different occasions to help tutor social studies teachers preparing for their social studies composite certification. 

As I look back on my experience in UTeach-Liberal Arts, the one memory that really stands out is our graduation lunch at the University of Texas Club.  As an incoming freshman I would have never imagined celebrating my graduation with the faculty and staff from my teacher preparation program.  It really showed what I already knew - that the teachers and other professionals who worked with us really cared.  I talk with my students all the time about their plans for college, and so many of them worry about going to a large school like UT where they feel like they're just going to get swallowed up.  UTeach showed that even at one of the largest universities in the world, students can find a program and get the individual attention and family atmosphere that others go to a small college to find.

UTeach-Liberal Arts provided the classroom experience and individual feedback and support that I needed to be successful teacher right out of college.  The best thing that this program offers is time in the classroom in front of students from the very beginning.  I also can't emphasize how important it was to receive instruction from master teachers with the wealth of experiences they had.  UTeach-Liberal Arts provided a practical, real-world approach to education from people who spent years and years in the classroom themselves.  When I began my professional teaching career in Georgetown I didn't feel like a brand new teacher.  Of course I was nervous, but I felt confident because I knew I had been prepared well.  And you can't ask for anything more.



BRITTANY MCCULLOCH • UTeach-LA English ’09

UTeach created a family that included my professors, fellow students, and myself.

Current title: O.Henry Middle School 6-8 Reading Teacher 

Awards: 2009-2010 Teacher of Promise at O.Henry Middle School

After graduating from UTeach Liberal arts, I got a job as a 6-8th grade Reading Teacher at O.Henry Middle School. In the last two years I taught 6th grade writing, 7th & 8th grade reading remediation, and Life Skills reading. This year I am teaching the Read 180. I have continued my education as a teacher by continuing to observe other master teachers, attending district and regional trainings , and acquiring additional certifications - ESL, General, and Special Education. 

My favorite UTeach Liberal Arts memory was the graduation ceremony. UTeach created a family that included my professors, fellow students, and myself. Our UTeach graduation was different from the general English/Liberal Arts graduation because I hugged my professors as I walked across the stage. I truly felt appreciated and cared for. 

UTeach played a huge part in my readiness to be a teacher. The best thing that UTeach is the amount of time future teachers spend in the classroom. Gaining experience in different schools at different grade levels and in different areas of Austin really helped me hone down what I really wanted to teach. When I came into UTeach, I thought I wanted to teach AP Senior English, but found later that my love was on-grade-level 8th grade English Language Arts. In addition, the number of hours spent in the classroom before graduating helped me, and will help future teachers, gain an amazing amount of experience prior to having your own classroom. I was able to watch several different teachers and pick up various tips and tricks for planning curriculum and practicing behavior management. 

 

MO O’BRIEN • UTeach-LA English ’12

I returned to Austin this last year to join Lake Travis ISD and currently serve a middle school with the finest young people I know. In the spring, I lead staff development sessions on “Teaching Their Hearts,” a training on rapport-building and orchestrating enjoyable learning for students.

After graduating [from UTeach-LA], I moved back to Dallas and began teaching Language Arts; I absolutely adored my first year of teaching! I returned to Austin this last year to join Lake Travis ISD and currently serve a middle school with the finest young people I know. In the spring, I lead staff development sessions on “Teaching Their Hearts,” a training on rapport-building and orchestrating enjoyable learning for students. When school isn’t in session, I enjoy reading all the books on my “later list” from college as well as exploring the many unique music venues, boutiques, and comedy stages Austin has to offer. 


I’ll always remember the UTeach Senior Send-off at the Alumni Center the year I graduated. Reflecting on years of learning together alongside my family and cohort was a special experience because this luncheon left everyone excited to welcome upcoming change and opportunities.

UTeach Liberal Arts was invaluable to me because it provided a plethora of professional networking opportunities. I still collaborate with the teachers I observed and student-taught under, and my cohort continues to stay in touch. The annual Erwin Center job fair, incredible faculty, and offered workshops like the AP Summer Institute made my professional preparation highly meaningful.

 

ANTHONY POULLARD • UTeach-LA Spanish ’08

My favorite UTeach memory would have to be my last day of student teaching— realizing that after 5 semesters of apprentice teaching, I was confident to lead my own classroom. It's definitely a special sense of pride that many first-year teachers do not experience before they start teaching.

It's hard to believe that I graduated from UTeach in 2008. Since then, I have spent my summers traveling and leading high school students from around the nation in meaningful language learning and community service experiences. Last summer (2010), I led a community service trip to Argentina and this summer (2011), I led a language learning trip to Costa Rica. My friends think I am crazy because I spend my summers with students as well. When I am not leading a program in the summer, I have been backpacking through Central and South America. Since UTeach, I traveled through Spain, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Argentina. Traveling is what I live for! 

Currently, I am completing a dual degree from Dallas Baptist University, including a Master's of Educational Leadership and a Master's of Business Administration. I am in my second year of the program and I absolutely love the synergy of my program. After I have plenty of years in the classroom, I am looking forward to using my degrees as a principal and district administrator.

My favorite UTeach memory would have to be my last day of student teaching— realizing that after 5 semesters of apprentice teaching, I was confident to lead my own classroom. It's definitely a special sense of pride that many first-year teachers do not experience before they start teaching.

The UTeach Program empowered and equipped me to be the best teacher possible. As an example: I graduated on a Saturday and the following Monday, I inherited a class that had over three months of substitutes and I felt like I never missed a beat. Not only did I enjoy teaching my students, but I also enjoyed seeing them successful.  They well exceeded district expectations for the end-of-course exam--an expectation that only my students and I believed was possible. Currently, I teach an advanced Spanish class and I am enjoying the challenge of providing rigorous learning experiences. To this day, I use our professors' ideas and activities, and I still speak with my cohort members at least once a month to keep current on their experiences as well. I definitely attribute that success to the countless hours of preparation, classroom experience, and relevant in-class training that our program provided. As an alumnus, I am always singing the wonderful praises of the UTeach Liberal Arts Program. 


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