UTSA recognizes special achievements of hundreds of new teachers

ceremony

At the UTSA teacher induction ceremony are (lfet) UTSA student Sarai Lara and Telemundo TV reporter Geraldine Ortega.

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(Dec. 11, 2012) -- Approximately 285 UTSA education majors are ready to enter a classroom in a different role this fall. The students, newly trained and certified, are the most recent new teachers to be inducted by the UTSA College of Education and Human Development. UTSA is the largest producer of K-12 teachers in San Antonio, having trained and certified more than 6,300 teachers.

Before UTSA education majors can graduate with their degrees and become certified teachers, they must complete a semester of required student teaching. The experience gives them the opportunity to practice instructional techniques, manage a classroom, navigate a school setting and auxiliary services, and work as a member of a professional team.

The UTSA education majors will be certified to teach early childhood education-sixth grade, middle school (4th-8th grade), high school (8th-12th grade) or all levels, a certification awarded to P.E., art, music and special education teachers.

Years ago, UTSA education majors would complete their required student teaching with little or no fanfare. However, Janet Scott, director of the Office of Student Teaching, believed that completing student teaching merited recognition.

"Student teaching is a rigorous experience, and these students deserve special recognition for the commitment they have made to their studies and to the education of the next generation," said Scott.

So, what began as a simple gathering to mark completion of their efforts has transformed into a full-fledged induction ceremony allowing UTSA student teachers to invite their family members, friends and mentors. Schools districts across the region also attend the UTSA induction ceremonies to celebrate the incoming teachers.

This semester, UTSA will induct approximately 250 new K-12 teachers amid an expected audience of 600 supporters. Undergraduate Sarai Lara will be among them.

A bilingual education major, Lara completed her student teaching at San Antonio Independent School District's Japhet Elementary School. The commitment was tremendous. She commuted 81 miles one way from her home in Uvalde, Texas, Monday-Friday, to work with the children in Celina Chambers' first-grade class.

Like many of the children she teaches, Lara spoke only Spanish when she began attending school. It's something that she feels connects her to the class.

"I enjoy helping the kids and relating to them and what they're going through," she said. "I really enjoy seeing them learn. When the little light bulb goes on, it's so exciting to know that I connected with them."

UTSA College of Education Dean Betty Merchant says that's what it's all about.

"Student teaching gives our education majors an opportunity to hone their skills under the direction of an accomplished master teacher," said Merchant. "This year, 16 school districts across the San Antonio region and in Boerne, Comal County, Lytle and Bandera welcomed our students for student teaching placements. We are so grateful for these partnerships. The experience positions our students to enter the teaching profession well-prepared to make a difference in the lives of our youth."

The UTSA fall 2012 induction ceremony was Friday, Dec. 7 in the University Center Ballroom on the Main Campus. Daniel Leija, 2011 Texas Teacher of the Year, was the keynote speaker. Known as "Dan, Dan, the science man," Leija is a fifth grade teacher at Northside Independent School District's Esparza School.

The UTSA College of Education and Human Development is the leading provider of educators in San Antonio and South Texas. The college is responsible for innovative research and grants in professional development, technology enhancement, health, school readiness, and bi-national and bicultural issues.