At UNT Dallas, the School of Education’s Emerging Teacher Institute (ETI) is training and educating the next generation of teachers. These future teachers view the profession not simply as a job, but as an essential calling.
The proof is in the awards that UNT Dallas graduates are piling up.
At least six UNT Dallas graduates now teaching in schools across Dallas-Fort Worth were named 2018-19 Teacher of the Year at their school or district, or recognized for excellence. Those teachers and their accolades are:
- Danielle Moore – Teacher of the Year, Crandall ISD
- Brenda Rivera Gomez – Teacher of the Year, JH Florence Elementary, Mesquite
- Faviola Pena Soriano – Teacher of the Year, Rowlett Elementary
- Jennifer Ernst – Teacher of the Year, Daniel Intermediate School, Duncanville
- Jeremy Sanders – Excellence in First Year Teaching, Agnew Middle School, Mesquite
- Chelsea Plseums – Excellence in First Year Teaching, Kimbrough Middle School, Mesquite
UNT Dallas graduate Faviola Pena Soriano was named Teacher of the Year for 2018-19
at Rowlett Elementary. It was the second time she has won the award.
“Seeing our graduates honored in their first year teaching is a sign of strong preparation and readiness, something our faculty and staff work hard to achieve in the School of Education,” said Elizabeth Cheek, executive director of ETI. “We are also proud to see graduates from as far back as 2013 persist in serving students excellently given that so many teachers leave the profession in the first five years. In these honored alumni and in so many others, we see our ultimate mission fulfilled.”
The ETI curriculum is strategically crafted to not only produce excellent teachers, but to help them combat the most troublesome issues in school districts locally, regionally and nationwide. High levels of stress and burnout often force teachers out of the classroom prematurely, leaving teacher shortages -- particularly in vulnerable urban school districts -- that ultimately negatively impacting student success rates.
“UNT Dallas was amazing in how they prepared me for the classroom,” said Sanders, a 2017 graduate. The professors are the best of the best. My last semester of classes before student teaching were no joke. We had so many assignments due it almost felt like I wouldn’t finish everything, but I made it, and that is truly how teaching feels. It can be so overwhelming at times, but knowing that I made it through that semester calmed my nerves when I actually got into the field.”
Former UNT Dallas School of Education dean Dr. John Gasko, now the special advisor to President Bob Mong, created ETI’s unique focus on well-being that prepares future teachers by equipping them with mental coping mechanisms and solutions to better handle those challenges, and increase their chances for longevity in the field.
Starting this fall, students can take advantage of thirdspace inside the new Student Center. thirdspace is a large room for students to relax, read, meditate or even do yoga; anything to decompress for a few moments and relieve stress.
“Self-care and well-being are musts in the world of education,” Sanders said. “There are so many stressors coming at you, whether it be students, parents, administrators or paperwork, you have to never forget to take care of yourself.”
UNT Dallas also produces a high number of much-needed bilingual teachers for the Dallas ISD and surrounding school districts. These teachers help to ensure that Spanish-speaking students don’t get left behind.
“My experiences at UNT Dallas prepared me not just pedagogically, but also how to be an advocate for my students,” said Pena Soriano, who earned her bachelor’s degree in 2013, and has twice been named Teacher of the Year at her school. “As a bilingual teacher, I’ve faced times where my students are seen as a hindrance because of English being their second language. This program prepared me well when it comes to knowing the Bilingual/ESL policies in order to ensure that there is equity among our school resources.”
UNT Dallas is the fastest-growing public university in Texas, and the School of Education continues to grow its enrollment faster than the national average. For more information on enrolling at UNT Dallas and becoming part of ETI in the School of Education, email Joe Posada-Triana in the School of Education at email@example.com.
“I pursued this profession knowing that I want to be part of the solution in ensuring we are providing the support that students need to fully prepare them for what awaits them in the future,” said Pena Soriano, a 2013 graduate. “I truly believe that what happens in a school setting has the power of changing the world. Therefore, I don’t take this job lightly and know that as a teacher, I’m directly impacting my students’ ability to excel and achieve.”