Several faculty members from the University of Texas-Pan American met with high school teachers at McAllen High recently to discuss how to better prepare students for college.
The UTPA faculty members who participated in the roundtable discussion Feb. 2 were Dr. Kenneth Buckman, associate professor of philosophy and the director of The Rafael A. "Felo" & Carmen Guerra Honors program; Dr. John Sargent, professor in the Department of Management; Dr. Deborah Cole, assistant professor of English; Dr. Cristina Villalobos, associate professor of mathematics; Dr. Baofeng Feng, associate professor of mathematics; Dr. Douglas Timmer, associate professor of manufacturing engineering; and Jose Luis Saldivar, lecturer in the Office of Academic Affairs, Undergraduate Studies.
The meeting was organized by a group of McAllen High School teachers who formed a grassroots organization called Teachers Transforming Public Education. The group's purpose is to bring educators and the community together to improve how and what students learn.
"We realize that if we really want to transform public education teachers are the ones who have to take the most active role in making that happen," said Chris Ardis, an American Sign Language teacher at McAllen High School and one of the group's founders.
Ardis said part of the group's efforts is to host seminars throughout the year to help teachers improve their craft and learn what more they need to do to help their students become college and career ready. The group asked the UTPA professors and lecturers to speak to high school teachers about what they noticed about the incoming freshmen they had in their classes and what skills those students should have by the time they enter college.
"We have our idea of what it means to be college and career ready, but who better to tell us exactly what it means to be college ready and career ready than professors from UTPA," Ardis said.
The seven UTPA faculty members told the high school teachers what they expect from students taking their classes and how some of the students enter their classes unprepared to handle the level of work required of them.
"Students need to know how to write because if they know how to write, and know how to write well, it means they know how to think well; they know how to solve problems and they know how to be critical thinkers and that's really what is requisite when you get into university classes," Buckman said.
Both the high school teachers and UTPA faculty members said they appreciated having the opportunity to hear from each other about the challenges and opportunities they face in educating students and learn more about how they can help each other.
"It seems to me that if we are on the same page about the kinds of needs that we have between the high schools and the universities, we can get those kinds of skills needed to have students be successful once they get to the University," Buckman said.
For more information about Teachers Transforming Public Education, visit the group's Facebook page.