head shot of UTPB graduate Miss Ale
Marcela Alejandra Hernandez Garcia is currently the school counselor at Pease Elementary in Odessa

When you look back on your college years you’ll likely remember the friends you made, all the studying and assignments, maybe even those moments of doubt and frustration.  And there’s probably a teacher who you’ll never forget.. The one who believed in you, knew your name, and challenged you to become better at your craft…

“The teachers make the program and we have great teachers and they care about us as students,” said UT Permian Basin College of Education grad, Marcela Alejandra Hernandez Garcia. 

“Miss Ale” as she is better known, is hoping to be the teacher that students remember long after they’re gone.

“Some of my students call me miss ale and some of them call me teacher and then they correct each other and say she’s not teacher she’s miss Ale!”

Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Ale and her family moved to Odessa when she was in the 10th grade after her mom got a teaching job with ECISD. Ale graduated from New Tech Odessa and then received her undergraduate degree in psychology at UT Austin. She is currently the school counselor at Pease Elementary in Odessa.

“At the beginning of school I go into every classroom and I teach them that I am the person that helps them when their heart is broken, or angry, sad, or scared and so that’s why in the hallways when I see them they will always give me hearts because when they show me a heart they know i am the one who helps them whenever their heart is heavy or hurting and so I give them a heart back and sometimes they do half a heart and I complete the heart.”

And that’s it, it’s the magic that exists within the heart of a teacher.

“Because of UTPB’s partnership with ECISD I was able to be a school counselor this semester even though I have not graduated yet but the entire time I have a mentor, a supervisor, and my professor that are helping me out just in case I need anything,” Ale added.

UT Permian Basin believes in the impact teachers have on students. Whether it’s in the K-12 classroom or in college, teachers matter.  

Professor Tara Wilson is just one of the many faculty members at UTPB who put student success ahead of all else.

“I want them to feel like I got this, I can do this and feel equipped with all of the different strategies and how to use different technologies and just how to teach kids and be there for children because at the end of the day that’s what it’s about,” Dr. Wilson said.

“It’s a place where the teachers are always supporting you. If you tell them you want to do something but you aren’t sure how to get there the teachers will help you out. The teachers in the college of education if they don’t know the answer they will connect you with someone who does know. They’re always an email away or I knew their office hours and I could just stop in and they’re very approachable,” explained Ale. 

Part of the University’s mission is to produce high-quality teachers for our local school districts. Recently, UT Permian Basin introduced a new partnership called UTeach. The program is designed to recruit and train STEM majors inspiring them to consider a career in the classroom.

UTeach Permian Basin will be housed in the College o Education. The purpose of this prestigious program is to prepare highly qualified science and math teachers according to the UTeach model developed at The University of Texas at Austin.

UTeach Permian Basin was made possible thanks to a generous $1.9 million investment from the permian strategic partnership also known as PSP. 

“We know that there is a stem teacher shortage across the country in particular though for the permian basin which is so rich with stem job possibilities here more than anywhere we need good stem teachers,” said Tracee Bentley, CEO of the PSP.

“We are excited about the partnership with uteach, permian strategic partnership, and our own College of Education here at the University for us to really have the opportunity to bring in those stem teachers for k-12," said UT Permian Basin President, Dr. Sandra Woodley Our goal is to double the number of people who get their degree and we are specifically trying to double the number of k-12 teachers. We know how badly those are needed here and we know how badly stem education is needed in the permian basin for the jobs that we have available here so this is truly an inspirational partnership that we think will provide lots of benefits to our students and to our community.”

Miss Ale said being part of the college of education at UT Permian Basin has allowed her to advance her career, learn from high-quality educators, and stay home in the basin.

“This is where I live. I like being with my family and I like that there are a lot of international students. I have a lot of friends that are from Brazil, Spain, the middle east. I like the diversity that it has I like that it’s affordable.”

Ale walked the stage in December 2020 and she’s ready for what the future holds.

“Just walking into the building every day I am the one greeting them in the morning and I get to be there for them every day and even if they’re coming in sad I get to stop them and ask them what’s happening how can I help you? How can we make this day better and then I like checking in on them during the day. I like having a nice classroom where they can come and they feel safe.”

Safe. Confident. Prepared for the future. That’s the impact one person, one teacher can have.