U-TAP into Teaching: Currently a Club, Soon to be an Elective?

Daniel Morrison, Copy Editor


   Some were attracted to the idea of easy service hours, the ability to skip class, and even missing entire school days. Others were elated at the chance to finally reunite with their favorite elementary and middle school teachers. A few heard through a special friend. But most wanted to exercise their genuine passion to educate. Whatever the case may be, all of them had a common desire in mind when joining the club: tapping into a greater future.  

   “When I first heard of UTAP from my friend Daniela, I knew I had to join,” says junior Kaitlyn Padron. The Urban Teacher Academy Program, or UTAP, “is an organization whose purpose is to encourage high school students to view teaching as a possible profession and provide them with the experiences that will make it easier to enter into teaching,” explains junior Daniela Caballero, UTAP’s president. Their mission is to work weekly with Academic Village Middle School teachers to assist with lesson plans, one-on-one tutoring, small groups, grading, and more classroom-related activities. 

   The club was introduced by Government and Economics teacher, Mr. Sanchez, who, as a student at Flanagan High School, was involved in a Teacher Preparation Program. “It was popular,” the sponsor says. “A lot of students joined it, the teachers were involved, and they were excited to get additional support in the classroom, and I figured after the past couple of years with Covid and a lot of the management [issues] it brought to teachers, why not provide aid in the classroom? So I wanted to bring that to Pines Charter.” And soon enough, UTAP was launched. It had its second meeting on Tuesday, September 13, and is already planning to expand its reach to the elementary and middle campuses.

   Kaitlyn personally knows the tremendous assistance UTAP will bring to teachers. “My mom being a teacher, I know how much they have on their plate from grading to lesson plans, and while it may sound easy, I know she has had very long nights trying her hardest for her students all by herself,” the junior communicates. “UTAP allows us students to give back to teachers, whether it’s decorating their classroom, helping to clean up, or stapling papers for their students the next day. I hope I can help the teachers of Pines Charter the way they’ve helped us.” Daniela couldn’t agree more. “We want good changes in our classrooms, and we want to inspire the kids in them. We want to help our teachers,” the president passionately says. And it’s this ambition that pushed Sanchez into making Daniela president in the first place. 

   “Daniela is someone who is very interpersonal,” Sanchez begins. “When she walks into the room, EVERY single person is just drawn to her social skills; she’s someone that cares, has a pure and genuine heart, and she gives back. Even as a teacher—I had her last school year—she would always come up to me after class and ask, ‘Hey, Mr. Sanchez, do you need help with anything?’, and when she decided to go for presidency, I was excited because I know that she has the drive, she has the leadership skills, and she has the ability to encourage other people to, one, join the program, and, two, lift other people up as leaders,” he expresses. 

   Daniela is nothing short of these attributes. “We are a perfect team. He trains me and the officers to be the best model for our members.” Its members, such as junior Nadjeen Cinevert, have had the opportunity to work under such dedicated leaders. She plans on utilizing UTAP’s new beginnings to propel her own end goals. “I joined UTAP because this club will help me get closer to my goal of working in a field with younger people. It would help me get more practice with communicating and working with children,” she comments. 

   Indeed it will, because Daniela has “always loved the idea of being a teacher, working with kids, and learning new things,” she says. “I took this position because I also want to help the students planning on doing this as a career. I want them to get a little bit of experience on a day in the life of a teacher.” So it seems aspiring educators are in good, supportive hands. But UTAP isn’t done yet. “This school year, we’re just a program that meets after school, but for the following school year, we’re hoping that this becomes an elective,” Sanchez says. “That way, students can sign up for the class and we can go weekly to some of the different campuses and continue to expand and grow.” Think about that, a club turning into an elective—Charter’s never seen anything like it.