- Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 22:12
By Nadia M. Whitehead
UTEP News Service
Daniel Gutierrez had absolutely no trouble securing a job after graduating from The University of Texas at El Paso this past May.
No, he wasn’t an engineering or computer science major, but rather a scholar of the University’s Math and Science Teacher’s (MaST) Academy, whose graduates are considered some of the finest high school math and science teachers in the region.
“If you’re a MaST scholar, you’re much more marketable and prepared to be a teacher,” said Gutierrez, who teaches physics to juniors and seniors at Canutillo High School.
Created in 2006 by the College of Science to enhance the quantity and quality of future high school math and science teachers who graduate from UTEP to serve the El Paso region, the academy recently received a $600,000 boost from Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP), a Fortune 500 company with offices in El Paso.
This latest pledge marks a total of $2 million in contributions from the company.
“At ADP, we believe that the science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, disciplines – in particular math and science – are at the root of innovation,” said Terry McGreehan, vice president and general manager of ADP. “ADP’s support for the MaST Academy is fundamentally an investment in the future.”
Ellen Esposito, the academy’s director, completely agrees.
“ADP’s support of the MaST Academy has impacted not only the scholars who have graduated, but also the thousands of high school student they have taught and will teach,” she said. “Many teachers have told us that you can see a huge difference between a teacher who has gone through MaST and one who hasn’t.”
Undergraduate math or science majors who are accepted into the MaST Academy receive a $10,000 scholarship and weekly field experience with a MaST mentor teacher in the El Paso region. Students also participate in monthly professional development seminars with subjects ranging from addressing issues of adolescent students to lesson plan development and classroom management.
In addition, MaST Scholars are given the opportunity to lead a summer outreach program for young high school students and attend national education conferences.
Teachers chosen to mentor MaST Scholars are given a $500 stipend each semester and receive professional development to support mentoring.
Heather Cawley, a mentor teacher at Canutillo High School, said those who go through the program have a leg up and are way ahead of their peers.
“MaST interns have a higher level of confidence because of the knowledge and practice they get from their weekly field experience,” she said.
As a mentor teacher, Cawley observes students in the classroom and gives them tips on what they can do better. If the scholar runs into a problem, such as the students getting off task, she is there to guide them and advise how to best handle the situation.
One of the most important things MaST does is teach future educators how to engage high schoolers and get them interested and excited about math and science.
“We learn how to get students to love math and science, rather than think it’s boring,” said Xena Quintana, a MaST scholar and UTEP mathematics student.
That is exactly why ADP has continued to support the program since 2006 – because of its ability to enhance the quality of math and science teaching in the El Paso community.
“The MaST Academy prepares capable scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and research and development professionals,” McGreehan said. “The MaST Scholars of yesterday, today, and tomorrow will shape the future workforce of El Paso, and even geographies beyond.”