One of Texas’ Top Teachers Gets Her Start at UHD
By Sheryl E. Taylor
She was close to graduating, but Sarah Sutar’s family’s legacy was calling her to make a change.
As an undergraduate at the University of Houston-Downtown, Sutar was initially pursuing a degree in business, but her heart was leading her to education … a familial presence that included her grandmother and mother who are educators. Her mother is an elementary school teacher at Rees Elementary School in the Alief Independent School District.
“I not sure where my passion from teaching comes from … whether it’s the fact that I come from a family of teachers or my love of teaching children ... I believe it’s both,” Sutar said. Surprisingly, her childhood dream was to become an astronaut.
So with her sights on graduating, she made the switch. After a few meetings with her UHD adviser, Sutar changed her degree focus and completed her bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Business minor.
“My adviser was so patient and great in helping me to achieve my dream of going into education,” she emphasized. “UHD was so great about helping me take my last few courses in education that really prepared me for my master’s and also made me more confident.”
When thinking about her time at UHD, Sutar has nothing but good memories.
“I love UHD,” she said. “My experience was so great. The professors were so understanding … the University community was perfect.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in 2018, Sutar attended University of Houston where she received a master’s in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in Mathematics.
Her first teaching year coincided with the challenges of COVID-19 during which additional demands were required of teachers heading into the classrooms.
Last year, Sutar was hired as part of a state COVID-19 waiver that allowed school districts to employ Alternative Certification Program (ACP) candidates who had not yet completed their tests. She experienced her first year of teaching, completed an ACP program and passed her TExES exams, while also dealing with the challenges of the pandemic.
“It wasn’t easy, but I could not have asked for a better year,” she said. “If I could conquer everything that came my way in my first year in education … thanks to the support of more experienced teachers, which I will never forget … I know that I can face anything in my future in education.”
Before the commencement of Summer Break, Sutar was named 2021 Texas Teacher of the year by Texas Teachers of Tomorrow. She was surprised in her fifth-grade classroom at Sienna Crossing Elementary School (Fort Bend Independent School District) with a $5,000 check. Each year, teachers are nominated by colleagues and principals for the title. Sienna Crossing Elementary Principal Rachel Rosier nominated Sutar, who was chosen from among 500 candidates.
“Sarah provides that positive support daily,” Rosier said. “She gives every child her very best each day while instilling a love of learning, making it both fun and meaningful. Her love of learning combined with her life-long learning mentality makes her an excellent role model.”
Sutar now teaches third grade at FBISD’s Oyster Creek Elementary School.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.