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U.S. Senator discusses Teach North Texas program

U.S. Senator discusses Teach North Texas program

US Senator John Cornyn visits the UNT campus to discuss UNT's Teach North Texas program in the Chemistry Building on the UNT campus in Denton, Texas on August 19, 2013. Photo courtesy of Michael Clements/UNT

U.S. Senator discusses Teach North Texas program
August 19
18:14 2013

Photo caption: U.S. Senator John Cornyn visits the UNT campus to discuss UNT’s Teach North Texas program in the Chemistry Building on the UNT campus in Denton, Texas on August 19, 2013. Photo courtesy of Michael Clements/UNT

Joshua Knopp/Senior Staff Writer

U.S. Senator John Cornyn took part Monday afternoon as part of a panel of administrators, students and alumni, investors and school district representatives gathered to discuss UNT’s Teach North Texas program.

The program offers an education minor to math and science students and prepares them to teach in middle schools and high schools. Founded in 2008, the program has 81 graduates, 49 of whom currently teach at 31 school districts across North Texas, said John Quintanilla, mathematics professor, Teach North Texas co-director and discussion moderator.

Cornyn listened to the program’s testimonials and then discussed the American COMPETES Act, an education funding act he co-sponsored in 2007 that needs re-authorization this year. One of the bill’s provisions is on producing better teachers.

“We need to know what’s effective,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve heard so much about today, is how to be effective with these dollars.”

Joel Hays, associate principal at Billy Ryan High School in Denton, which employs multiple TNT graduates, said he’s been impressed with the teachers that have come to his school.

He relayed a story about a TNT graduate who used rubber bands to teach students an entire physics unit in 19 minutes. Hays said the unit typically takes two-to-three days to teach.

“We’re getting to the point where we assume all our TNT graduates can do that,” he said. “When I’ve got 83 resumes to sort through and I’ve got to bring five people in for an interview, some TNT students are going to be there.”

Jessie Holcomb, 2011 UNT alumna and a teacher at Marcus High School in Lewisville, praised TNT’s teaching style.

“I thought it [becoming a math teacher] was just getting a math degree and taking a test,” she said. “And this is a much better approach. They actually teach you to teach.”

The future of the America COMPETES Act is uncertain. Its next benchmark vote is Sept. 31.

The only negative note on the program came from Holcomb, when she was asked what she wished she’d been told when she was in school.

“Things I wish ya’ll would have told me? How to deal with parents,” she said, drawing laughter from the audience.

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