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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

A Passion for Teaching

A Passion for Teaching

Educators in the pipeline

Since opening the doors nearly 45 years ago, utsa has produced leaders, workers, activists and educators who continue to impact their communities. the faculty and staff at forester elementary provide just one example.

Inside room C104 at Forester Elementary School, the Dragon Drummers accompany the children’s choir as they rehearse a song that will be performed at the school’s annual fine arts night.

Veteran teacher Eddie Cavazos sits in a chair surrounded by the young musicians. Fellow teacher Kathryn Stoltz keeps the beat with a handbell.

“Okay, get ready,” Cavazos tells the children. “Just the boys now.”

The boys pick up their part while the girls patiently await their turn. Stoltz occasionally sings along as she keeps time.

Cavazos ’82, M.M. ’92, has been teaching elementary school in San Antonio for 30 years and still has passion for the job.

A Passion for Teaching

(L-R) Forester Elementary School Vice Principal Nicole Guzman M.A. ‘05, stands with music teacher Kathryn Stoltz ‘06 and Cavazos.

“I want to be planting the seeds and seeing where it will take them in life,” he said recently, just before the rehearsal.

This spring, the number of UTSA graduates will surpass the 100,000 mark–and many of these grads, including Cavazos and Stoltz ’06, are continuing the education pipeline that began when the university first opened, and that will continue long into the future.

Stoltz hopes to get her master’s degree at some point, following the path not just of Cavazos but also of Forester Vice Principal Nicole Guzman M.A.,’05.

“We have to provide opportunities for [the students] to experience music in many different ways,” Stoltz said. “Then they want to be a musician forever. It doesn’t matter what career field they go into. They’ll always be a lifelong musician.”

The goal of everyone working at the school, is to make sure the kids stay excited about education, whether the subject is music or math or anything else.

UTSA is a prominent feature in the halls of Forester, including on Wednesdays, the designated alumni day, when staff and faculty can wear university items, Guzman said.

"We prepare a significant number of educators. Their commitment to their community is unparalleled. To work with people who have that level of commitment is a privilege."

–Betty Merchant, dean, College of Education and Human Development

“That shows the impact of what it means to be sending out 500 to 600 teachers a year over all these years,” said Betty Merchant, dean of the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD). “You get a critical mass of teachers who are exposed to similar ways of thinking and learning and best practices. They form a very supportive network with one another and that helps them stay in the profession.”

Teachers who graduate from the UTSA COEHD have the highest retention rate after the first five years of their employment in public schools, according to statistics provided by the Texas Education Agency.

Merchant said the type of educator community formed at Forester is an example of a new commitment of supporting graduates throughout their careers.

“We are increasing our focus on working with teachers in the first five years of their career through initiatives such as those provided by the Academy for Teaching Excellence,” Merchant said. “We’re really seriously trying to follow through with our teachers when they leave. The superintendents, the teachers, have a lot to say and have provided advice on subjects like teacher preparation and educational psychology.”

As those in the field provide feedback, the college has added programs and expanded to meet the changing needs of educators. Merchant pointed to the UTSA autism center, kinesiology and dietetics programs, and a broadened curriculum on educational psychology as examples.

“We prepare a significant number of educators,” she said. “Their commitment to their community is unparalleled. To work with people who have that level of commitment is a privilege.”

Cavazos said he always gets the same surprised reaction when he tells people he’s been teaching for three decades.

The fact that his enthusiasm hasn’t waned after all these years is clear at the Thursday morning rehearsal.

And at the end of the session, when they are asked who among them wants to go to college, all the young musicians raise their hands.

–Michelle Mondo

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