Now Teachers, They Serve as Mentors for UTeach Students

Ariel Grill Image by Courtesy
UTeach alum Ariel Grill teaches math at Greater Lawrence Technical School.

By Brooke Coupal

As an aspiring math teacher, Ariel Grill ’19 spent her undergraduate days in local classrooms, gaining practical experience under the guidance of professional teachers.
Fast-forward five years: Grill is now mentoring Tanya Kieu ’24, another aspiring teacher who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
“It’s a full-circle moment,” says Grill, a mathematics alum who teaches math at Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover, Massachusetts.
For Grill, it was important to welcome a student teacher into her classroom as a way of giving back to UTeach, an undergraduate teacher preparation program for STEM majors. Students who complete the program earn a UTeach minor along with the Massachusetts initial teacher licensure to teach math, science or technology/engineering in middle school and high school. 
“The UTeach program is the reason I was able to be so successful,” says Grill, who got the teaching job at Greater Lawrence Tech right after graduating from UMass Lowell, to which she transferred during her first year of college for the UTeach program.
From the first semester, students in the UTeach program gain teaching experience at local schools as they work toward an educator license.
“These experiences prepare them for the realities of the teaching profession,” UTeach Director Sumudu Lewis says.
Tanya Kieu and Ariel Grill with students Image by Courtesy
Tanya Kieu and Ariel Grill, standing, help students with a project.
Eduardo Beato ’14, ’18 was one of the first students to graduate from the UTeach program at UMass Lowell. He joined as a mathematics major and found his calling for teaching through the practical experience that he gained.
“I just don’t see how anything could be better than the UTeach program,” says Beato, who went on to get a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.
He taught math at Chelmsford High School in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, for eight years before joining the math teaching staff at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School in Concord, Massachusetts, in 2022. While at Chelmsford High, Beato mentored Grill as she gained student teaching experience in his classroom.
“I really believe in what the UTeach program is doing, so I wanted to be a part of it even after graduating,” Beato says. “I know how beneficial it was for me.”
Grill and Beato are just two of several UTeach alumni who have given back by training new student teachers.
“The alumni know the challenges of the program, as well as the demands of the STEM major they are working on,” Lewis says. “They are the perfect role models and amazing leaders for the UTeach students.”
Kieu, who joined the UTeach program during her sophomore year, is already looking forward to having UTeach students in her classroom once she is a full-time teacher.
In Grill’s classroom, Kieu practices creating lesson plans and teaching algebra to high school students. She says the feedback and coaching that she receives from Grill is invaluable.
Sumudu Lewis and Tanya Kieu Image by Courtesy
UTeach Director Sumudu Lewis poses with UTeach student Tanya Kieu after she received the Coburn Award for Excellence in Secondary Teaching.
“I found my teaching voice,” Kieu says. “Students need to be able to understand you clearly. Ariel and I talk about this a lot: You’re a performer when you’re a teacher.”
Kieu received the Coburn Award for Excellence in Secondary Teaching from the School of Education this year after excelling in student teaching and her coursework. Grill received the same award in 2019.
“These two young ladies are absolutely remarkable,” Lewis says. 
Before becoming a teacher, Kieu is continuing her education at UMass Lowell as she works toward a master’s degree in mathematics with a mathematics for teachers option.
“I’m grateful that I get to be a part of Tanya’s process of becoming an educator,” says Grill, who is also in UMass Lowell’s mathematics master’s program. “I want to continue giving back to the program that gave so much to me.”