UTSA partners with CAST Tech for high-tech innovations in STEM education

rendering of CAST Tech High School

(April 18, 2017) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is bringing its top-tier expertise in education to support the San Antonio Independent School District's (SAISD) newest academic endeavor, CAST Tech High School.

CAST Tech is the first in a network of industry-led, career-themed schools known collectively as CAST (Centers for Applied Science and Technology). CAST Tech will prepare students for careers in several technology-focused fields, including coding, cyber security, entrepreneurship and business. SAISD and its partners, including H-E-B, which backed the CAST roll-out, plan to establish CAST schools across San Antonio in partnership with other industry partners and local school districts.

UTSA faculty members and students with the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) are set to provide academic support and resources to CAST Tech in the form of teacher preperation, counseling, literacy initiatives, research and more. COEHD is a long-time partner to community school districts.

Through the partnership, UTSA students will gain valuable teaching experience within the walls of CAST Tech. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors who are pursuing degrees from UTSA to become teachers will learn and operate in the CAST Tech classrooms and work with its students. UTSA education faculty members will work with student teachers to take advantage of CAST Tech's unique teaching and learning environments. CAST Tech classrooms emphasize personalized project-based learning that makes use of state-of-the-art technologies.

"UTSA and CAST Tech are developing a vibrant, new learning community in San Antonio with this collaboration," said Carmen Fies, associate professor of interdisciplinary learning and teaching, and UTSA educator-in-residence at CAST Tech. "Our efforts are to promote simultaneous renewal of teacher preparation and foster an innovative school environment for CAST Tech with a focus on student learning and educator preparation."

CAST Tech faculty and staff will also benefit from the partnership. UTSA education faculty will provide tailored staff development opportunities to teachers and administrators at CAST Tech. The staff will be able to receive free training and education from UTSA faculty, earn new academic and professional certifications, and take part in research. The partnership aims to increase the number of career and technology certified instructors and dual-credit and master's degree professionals on SAISD staff and in San Antonio.

The UTSA students who will be engaged with CAST Tech are student teachers with COEHD or participants of two unique programs at UTSA: UTeachSA and GE²MS.

Through UTeachSA and GE²MS, STEM majors with an interest in teaching are able to experience a K-12 classroom as early as their freshman year. These students are able to earn their STEM degree and teaching certification in four years through the programs, which are partnerships between COEHD and the UTSA College of Sciences. UTSA's COEHD is one of the largest producers of teachers in South Texas, and many former student teachers go on to careers in Bexar County school districts.

CAST Tech is located on the Fox Tech High School campus, near the city's downtown Tech District. CAST Tech will work hand-in-hand with industry partners, such as Tech Bloc, to serve its inaugural cohort of 120 to 150 ninth grade students enrolling in the school this fall. CAST Tech students will have the opportunity to earn college-level credit hours and industry certifications while progressing through high school.

"The UTSA and CAST Tech partnership is grounded in a strong desire to meaningfully intertwine two innovative approaches to STEM education," said Margo DelliCarpini, COEHD dean. "UTSA is continually innovating its approaches in order to best educate and nurture the next generation of STEM teachers for the good of students in our community. This partnership is the best of both worlds."

The CAST Tech partnership expands upon UTSA's existing in-school collaborations with SAISD. In 2016, UTSA entered into a two-year academic partnership with the school district to create the UTSA-SAISD Community Laboratory Schools Program. The laboratory schools—located at Crockett and Douglass elementary schools in San Antonio—serve as training sites for current and future educators and laboratories for collaborative research initiatives.

UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.

- Jesus Chavez

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Learn more about the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.

Learn more about UTSA's Laboratory Schools Partnership with SAISD.

Learn more about the UTeachSA and GE²MS teaching programs, which prepare undergraduate students to become qualified STEM teachers in the community.

Learn more about CAST Tech High School.

Read more about CAST Tech.

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