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New UTeach Access Program Creates Pathway to Grow STEM Teacher Workforce

New UTeach Access Program Creates Pathway to Grow STEM Teacher Workforce
Jack Coker, a freshman, prepares a lesson on surface tension for a 4th grade class. Photo by Mark Tway, UTeach.

The University of Texas at Austin's UTeach program, based in the College of Natural Sciences, and Austin Community College have joined forces to launch UTeach Access, a new co-enrollment program to prepare secondary STEM teachers.

"I want to impact lives. Education — I know it's for me."

— Freshman Dayanara De Anda, in an article published about the pioneering  new UTeach Access program. Read more »

UTeach Access allows admitted students to take classes at both UT and ACC's Rio Grande campus for three or four semesters before transitioning to UT Austin full-time. Students in the program will be able to graduate with a B.S. in biology, chemistry, mathematics or physics and a teaching certificate. As co-enrolled students, they are able to draw upon UT Austin resources, including financial aid and student housing, and attend sporting events and other activities. Additionally, they benefit from ACC's smaller class sizes and lower tuition.

STEM-trained educators have been in short supply in the United States and Texas, which was part of the reason for the creation of the acclaimed UTeach program at UT Austin 25 years ago. According to the Texas Education Agency, in 2021-2022 alone, there were teacher shortages in mathematics at the secondary level and technology applications and computer science at both elementary and secondary levels. Often, under-resourced communities are hit the hardest.

"With a severe shortage of secondary STEM teachers, many schools cannot offer their students a strong foundation in math and science," said Alexandra Eusebi, academic director of UTeach Access. "Without highly qualified teachers, fewer students are inspired to pursue STEM careers or seek higher education that builds upon those skill sets. In turn, gender, racial and ethnic diversity gaps are increasing in the STEM workforce."

Jack Coker and Mayfer Rodriguez prepare a lesson on surface tension for a 4th grade class. Photo by Mark Tway, UTeach.

A generous donation from Microsoft to UT Austin and the UTeach program has allowed for the development of different efforts to increase the number and diversity of STEM teachers. One of these efforts is the UTeach Access program.

Ten students have enrolled in the program to start off its pilot launch, but the program has the capacity to grow to serve as many as 78 students by next year.

Freshman Jack Coker is interested in physics and among the first cohort admitted to the program in its pilot year. 

"One of my high school science teachers really connected with students. He's the one that got me into physics," Coker said. "He emphasized understanding over grades, and it gave me an appreciation for the subject."

Coker believes that good teachers do more than teach content. To him, they know how to reach and engage students. 

"I'm grateful for this opportunity and hope one day to be able to give back to my community and inspire others to pursue careers in science," Coker said.

UTeach Access' core mission is to provide students with the opportunity to pursue teaching and ultimately increase the number of highly qualified secondary STEM teachers in Texas schools.

"UTeach aims to help fill this critical need by providing opportunities for students to earn teaching certification alongside their degree from UT Austin's College of Natural Sciences," Eusebi said. "The UTeach Access program's goal is to offer additional pathways toward admission to UT outside of traditional enrollment for first-year college students interested in pursuing careers in STEM education."

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Comments 1

 
Guest - Deanna Buckley on Thursday, 06 October 2022 10:28

This is an amazing opportunity at a time when we need it the most! Thanks to all those who have brought two schools together to make this happen!

This is an amazing opportunity at a time when we need it the most! Thanks to all those who have brought two schools together to make this happen!
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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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