List of Bloggers & Admins: Bios and Pictures

Bloggers are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Alison Barkman, Science Coach (UT Arlington Graduate)


My name is Allison Barkman. I graduated from the UTA middle school program and student taught in a 4th grade self contained classroom and an 8th grade science class. I was hired by a charter school being built in Arlington and taught 7th grade science for 3 year. After having taken classes and professional development courses over how to teach ELL’s, technology in the classroom, and how to better serve gifted and talented students, I was chosen to be a science coach for my district. Now I help write lessons for teachers, co-teach, and help our science teachers improve their instruction. During my time teaching, I am a strong believer in providing everyone with differentiation and using technology makes that much easier while proving numerous of engaging strategies.

Alison Capasso: Sixth Year Teacher and UT Arlington Graduate (’10 and Fall, 2015, M.Ed.)

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Alison Capasso is an educator from Bedford, Texas. She graduated from the EC-4 Education program at UTA in 2010. She will officially receive her masters degree in education with literacy focus from UTA’s online program at the end of the Fall. Alison is in her 6th year as an elementary educator. She has worked in 1st and 2nd grades for all six years. Although she enjoys all areas of teaching, her passions are behavior management, student engagement, and literacy. In her spare time, Alison enjoys helping her church community, reading, writing, and being a fitness coach.

Aspen Christine Johnson Ham: Environmental and Spatial Technology Teacher and UT Arlington Graduate (’11)

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I am a 2011 Summa Cum Laude graduate of UT Arlington. My first year teaching I worked for Ft. Worth ISD teaching math, science, social studies and health. My second year teaching I worked as a math and science teacher for Arlington ISD. I was offered a position to teach math at Hot Springs Intermediate School and accepted the job. After teaching math for two years at Hot Springs Intermediate. I was offered the position of EAST Facilitator for our new program and Technology Coordinator.

I am currently pursuing my degree in Technology Leadership from Henderson State University. I plan to graduate in 2017 and start a second masters in computer information systems. My goal is to be able to work as the director of technology at a university and teach undergraduate classes to future teachers about how to effectively use technology in their classroom.



Clairessa Michelle Cruz: First Year Teacher and UT Arlington Graduate (’15)


In May 2015 I graduated Summa Cum Laude from UTA with my Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, Generalist EC-6, ESL Certified.
I became a teacher because I still remember my own Kindergarten teacher who was patient with me even though I was that talkative child & the student who never took a nap.  My junior year at UTA I began volunteering at Irving ISD in a Kindergarten classroom. I student taught my junior & senior year at Butler Elementary, Arlington ISD.  I loved Kindergarten so much I continued to volunteer after graduation, and knew I had found my passion.  I am currently a Kindergarten teacher at Pearcy Elementary, AISD, and believe it is such a privilege and honor to teach such young inquisitive minds.
I believe all students need to feel safe and a sense of genuine classroom community. In my class we have a motto, “We are a family and I CAN!!!!
I also believe in having high quality literature read throughout the day.  I believe this not only helps with listening skills, but builds comprehension, and social hidden skills on how to ask and respond to questions.  

Sofieh Hopovac: Second Year Teacher and 2014 UT Arlington Graduate

In May 2014 I graduated Cum Laude from UTA with my Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies/Second Language Acquisition EC-6 ESL Generalist.

My junior and senior year, I observed and student taught in a Pre-Kindergarten and Third grade classroom. I remember always being asked which class was easier and I would always reply that both classes were not easy but I enjoyed teaching third graders the most. The classroom discussions with 9 year olds were just amazing and definitely helped with building a positive classroom climate!

I am currently teaching my second year in third grade. I just love it! As a campus our motto is, “We are on the same team to achieve our dream!” We also are constantly discussing leadership and what it means to be leaders not only at school but in society.

I don’t have an elementary teacher that I can talk about that really made a difference in my life but I had a few high school teachers that really spoke to my heart and soul. I will never forget them and how they helped me. That is what I am trying to build with my students now. Kids need that connection now to help build their future better. I can’t wait to see what kind of difference I make in my students’ lives. I always think to myself, “I hope they remember this lesson and hopefully me, too!”

Rafael Huerta: Fifth Year Teacher and 2011 UT Arlington Graduate

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In May of 2011 I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Texas at Arlington with my Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies EC-6 Generalist. Shortly after that I got my ESL certification. This year I have passed my Bilingual supplemental exam, principal certification exam, and I am currently working on my Masters in Education Administration.

I cannot determine an exact reason as to why I became a teacher. I honestly believe that teaching was and is my calling. This is my 5th year as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District. As an ESL teacher I work with students that are English Language Learners (ELLs) from Kindergarten to 6th grade.

I am a firm believer in setting goals. Every year I set my own personal and professional goals. My students also set their own academic goals and language goals. We track our goals through data. Data drives everything!

Bradley Leake, 8th Grade Honors Algebra, 8th Grade Mathematics, Girls Basketball Coach and Boys’/Girls’ Track Coach. McLean Middle School, FWISD


My name is Bradley Leake and I received my Bachelors of Science in 2011. After teaching for 2 years, I began my Master’s Degree and earned my M.Ed in Math Curriculum and Instruction. I began teaching at a charter school in Dallas, Texas. After two years there, I relocated to Crowley ISD. I stayed there for one year and now I am in my third year at McLean Middle School in Fort Worth, Texas. I have taught 5th grade accelerated math, 7th grade ESL/SPED math, 8th grade math, and Algebra I honors. I have been selected as teacher of the year once, and employee of the month 4 times in my 5 years of teaching. My passion for education is engagement and student relationships. I strongly believe that if students want to be in my class, they will want to learn.

Dr. Harrison McCoy, UTA Alumni (Master’s degree) and currently teaching in Arlington ISD
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Dr. Harrison McCoy is in his 17th year of teaching. He is certified ELA 5-8, ESL, Tech Apps K-12, Business Ed 9-12. Beginning my 11th year in Arlington ISD. 2015 AISD Junior High Teacher of the Year. He is now teaching Computer Information Applications at Arlington Collegiate HS. Master of Education from UTA.

Dr. Beth Ray, Assistant Clinical Faculty, The University of Texas at Arlington, Dept of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Dr. Beth Ray received her Doctorate of Educational Leadership and Masters in Educational Leadership from Dallas Baptist University. Dr. Ray served as a public school educator and administrator for 17 years. Prior to joining the University of Arlington faculty, she administered an elementary campus of over 800 students, led professional development,  and mentored new teachers. She has experience teaching doctoral-level qualitative research, curriculum development, and assessment as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University. She currently serves as an assistant clinical faculty member. Her research interests include coaching as professional development and the role of feedback in mentoring.

Dr. Marc Schwartz, Professor of Mind, Brain and Education at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA)
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Dr. Marc Schwartz is a former middle school and high school science teacher.  He taught biology, anatomy and physiology, physical science and physics for 10 years.  He later served as the K-12 science curriculum coordinator in the same district

At UT-Arlington he directs the Center for Mind, Brain and Education, which seeks to identify and support promising research agendas at the intersection of the cognitive and neurosciences and education.  The Center provides opportunities for interested researchers practitioners, students and policy makers to consider how advances in neuroscience, genetics and cognitive science can inform educational practice and leadership. At UTA he also directs the master program in Mind, Brain and Education where graduate students use concepts and models from MBE to create promising and testable solutions to challenges in a variety of contexts like schools, hospitals and museums.

Dr. Peggy Semingson, Blog Adminstrator and UTA Faculty (
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I am a former bilingual elementary school teacher (3rd grade and 5th grade) and bilingual reading specialist. I taught for eight years in public schools in Southern California and Texas (Austin area) and received my Master’s degree in Reading from Texas State University, San Marcos and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Texas at Austin. Currently I am an Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Arlington, where she has been since 2008. She loves teaching online and has a YouTube channel and a podcast channel.

Dr. John Smith, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Associate Dean and Department Chair
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Dr. John A. Smith is currently associate dean for educator preparation for the College of Education and chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at The University of Texas at Arlington. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree in Elementary Curriculum from the University of Utah, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Smith has 10 years of elementary classroom teaching experience in 2nd and 5th grades and as a Chapter 1 reading teacher, and 25 years experience in teacher education; he also taught at-risk students entering kindergarten and 1st grade for three summers at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Dr. Smith served three years as Reading Coordinator for the Chapel Hill City School District, during which time the district’s Chapter 1 program was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an Exemplary Program.

Dr. Smith has worked extensively with teachers in elementary school classrooms as a Reading Excellence Act reading coach and as a Reading First technical assistant.  His research has included studies of comprehension strategy instruction and the use of children’s literature in content-area reading instruction instruction.  He has written grants that have supported Early Reading First, Reading First, and other professional development projects. Dr. Smith’s teaching awards include Utah State University College of Education Teacher of the Year, USU Department of Elementary Education Teacher of the Year, USU Extension Program Teaching Award, and the Mortar Board “Top Prof” award.

Aubrey Steinbrink: Graduate Student in Literacy Studies and Instructional Coach 


I am an Instructional Coach in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford School District with 8 years of teaching experience in grades 4-6.  I am currently working towards a masters in Literacy Curriculum and Instruction. In the distant future, I hope to be a professional reading consultant for districts.
I have two young boys, and I am married to my high school sweetheart.  We came to Texas from Kansas about 10 years ago.  The education and experiences that I have been able to receive as a Texas teacher has pushed me beyond anything I could have hoped for.