UTeach is an innovative university-based teacher preparation program that started in 1997 at The University of Texas at Austin. We work to increase the number of highly effective STEM teachers in U.S. secondary schools and are committed to academic excellence in education. 

For more than 15 years, UTeach has offered our award-winning, high-quality, research-based professional learning opportunities for inservice K–12 educators. 


Kelli Allen

Kelli AllenKelli is the UTeach Professional Development coordinator. She has developed many of the UTeach Professional Development courses. She facilitates courses by providing personalized feedback, interacting in collaborative discussions, and assessing all work products.

Kelli has also served as the science Master Teacher for Apprentice Teaching at UTeach Austin since 2007. She teaches the capstone UTeach course—Apprentice Teaching—observes student teachers in the field, and provides a variety of induction support services for new teachers.

Kelli has 15 years of classroom teaching experience. She achieved National Board Certification in the area of Early Adolescence Science and received the National RadioShack Teacher Award in 2004. She was also a National GIFT Fellow (Growth Initiatives for Teachers) from Verizon in 2001, Outstanding Young Educator for Kansas, and a Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominee in 2001. In 2019, Kelli received the University of Texas College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award.

Kelli received her B.S. in Biology Education in 1992 and an M.S. in Biology in 1998, both from Pittsburg State University in Kansas.

Jackie Burniske

Jackie BurniskiAs the Director for K–12 Initiatives, Jackie Burniske collaborates with our academic partners to plan, develop, and implement professional development opportunities for inservice teachers nationwide. Jackie works collaboratively with districts and schools to develop long-term professional development programs that support academic initiatives and educator training and development.

Jackie has over 30 years of experience in education, including 10 years teaching in international schools. She has worked with a number of education nonprofits and her experience is focused on professional development, innovative uses of technology for teaching and learning, educator quality, and communications.

In 2001 while working at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, Jackie was part of a team that was awarded the Exemplary Use of Technology for Staff Development from the National Staff Development Council (NSDC) for Active Learning with Technology: A Professional Development Portfolio. Jackie has travelled to over 35 countries. She is a board member for the Community Tech Network.

She holds a B.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in curriculum and teaching from Michigan State University.

Peggy Pitts

Peggy Pitts

Peggy is the Program Coordinator for UTeach Professional Development. She works with the UTeach alumni support team to bring professional learning opportunities to the National UTeach Alumni Network and other in-service teachers.  She serves as the success coach in supporting the Blended Learning PD initiative.

Peggy acted as the Co-Project Director for the UTeach Science Regional Collaborative for six years partnering with the Texas Regional Collaborative and in-service teachers in the Austin area to implement inquiry-based instruction. Before joining The University of Texas at Austin in 2012, Peggy taught in Lewisville Independent School District and implemented a summer program for at-risk students. While teaching in Lewisville, Peggy was named Teacher of the Year in 2009 and Lewisville Top 100 Women. In 2019, Peggy received the University of Texas College of Natural Sciences Staff Excellence Award.

Peggy is a graduate of The University of North Texas, with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies and an M.S. in Computer Education Cognitive Systems.


Shelly Rodriguez

Shelly RodriguezShelly is a UTeach Austin Master Teacher who creates innovative curriculum and delivers teacher training for UTeach Professional Development in both online and face-to-face formats. Her areas of expertise include secondary science, inquiry-based learning, and maker education. Shelly is also the director of UTeach Maker, a micro-credentialing program that helps UTeach students bring project-based maker practices into their STEM classrooms or makerspace environments.

Shelly has 12 years of secondary science teaching experience and was certified by The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In 2012, Dr. Rodriguez was awarded The Outstanding Paper Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST).

She received her Ph.D. in Science Education in 2013, and her current research interests include maker education, inquiry, mentoring, and teacher professional development.