UTeach Dallas: Transforming Science and Math Education
In 2007, Amiee Himler enrolled in UT Dallas’ School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a field she loves—mathematics. The Terry Scholar was given an opportunity to try out a new initiative at the University called UTeach Dallas, and she fell in love again—with teaching.
The key ideas behind the UTeach program are: (1) students earn degrees in their scientific disciplines, thus ensuring they possess core knowledge of math and science; (2) students teach early in their academic careers and become effective in the classroom; and (3) there is a post-graduation support network. Students in the UTeach program simultaneously earn secondary teaching certification while completing bachelor’s degrees in fields such as physics, math, chemistry and biology.
UTeach was founded at UT Austin in 1997 to address science, technology, engineering and math teacher shortages. With funding from the National Math and Science Initiative, UT Dallas is among 13 universities nationwide that began enrolling students in the program in 2008. More than 6,200 undergraduates now take part in 34 such university-based programs (including UT Arlington’s and UT Tyler’s) in 16 states. UTeach Dallas currently enrolls 350 future math and science teachers and is on track to graduate at least 40 new alumni each year who are certified to teach science or math.
The importance of getting school children excited about math and science cannot be overstated. These are our nation’s future doctors, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs. A better-educated, technically savvy workforce will have the skills necessary to fill—and create—jobs in a technology-driven society. But they must first be inspired by great science and math teachers, and UTeach Dallas has become a model for creating such educators.
Amiee is one of the first alumni of UTeach Dallas. In her second year on the faculty at Richardson High School, she shares her enthusiasm for math with her students and the current UTeach student-teachers she mentors in her classroom.
UTeach Dallas is succeeding through generous support from local foundations and industry partners in science and technology. An event earlier this month celebrated recent grants that have pushed the program’s endowment fund total to $2 million.
UTeach programs are effective: Five years after graduation, more than 80 percent of UTeach graduates remain teachers, well above the retention rate for traditionally trained teachers. With continued support from our community, and with talented, enthusiastic participants like Amiee Himler, UTeach Dallas will continue to grow and improve the quality of K-12 math and science education in our state, ultimately helping young Texans compete for jobs in an increasingly technology-driven global market.
About This Newsletter
The President's Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, president of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the University.