UT Tyler

Presentations and Publications by UT Tyler Faculty and Staff

Office of Leadership and Service

Smith County, UT Tyler Partner to Give First-Hand Experience

Click the above link to read an article about a service-learning partnership between the Smith County Elections Department and Mark Owens, assistant professor. They are considering teaming up to teach college students about the election process by giving them firsthand experience.


The accepted proposal to present a poster session at the National Opera Association in Greensboro, NC, by Sooah Park, D.M.A., assistant professor of music:

Developing a Children Focused Opera Outreach Program for Opera Teachers

An issue facing opera educators is making opera more appealing to elementary, middle, and high school students. Often, opera does not appeal to young people who are more familiar with popular music and who find the language and musical style of opera inaccessible. The result is that recruiting both opera students and audiences is becoming more challenging. In large metropolitan areas, opera companies often have outreach programs to educate students about opera and to create future opera lovers. In small communities, outreach programs often do not exist. And it can be difficult to establish an outreach program due to limited financial resources and small talent pools to draw from.

My current research project involves developing an opera outreach programs in East Texas for elementary school students. My poster presentation will cover how I deal with limited funding, a limited talent pool, and a local population that is largely unfamiliar with opera. I will display the benefits of my pedagogical approaches and application. While of particular interest to opera teachers in small communities, these methods are applicable to any children-based outreach program.

To make opera more accessible to children who are by and large totally unfamiliar with opera, I add narration which can turn an incomprehensible opera to an accessible one. Additionally, the length of an opera is reduced significantly by inserting a narration. To facilitate children's understanding, opera stories are sent to teachers in advance so teachers can go over the story in class. Additionally, because language is one of the greatest barriers for audience to relate operas, operas are presented in English (unless the targeted audience is bilingual). While perhaps sacrilegious to opera aficionados, these changes to traditional operas make the performance enjoyable for children and allow them to not become distracted.

For opera teachers, the above methods also provide benefits for their students. For undergraduate opera performers whose voices are not sufficiently trained, shorter performances do not put an undue strain on their voice. Performing in English also allows student performers to connect with the drama instantaneously.

For any outreach programs, opera selection is important. For children outreach programs, selecting operas of familiar stories can contribute to success. My poster presentation will review ideal works such as Hansel and Gretel and shorter children themed operas. For example, the work of Edward Barnes and Seymour Barab.

For audiences and performers, opera can stimulate all four learning styles—visual, aural, kinesthetic, and cognitive. For performing students, opera outreach provides them an opportunity to hone their ability to connect with an audience in a non-threatening environment. Opera is a truly hands-on learning method for both young audiences and performing student.

Thus even in small communities opera outreach is important. The more we as opera teachers can do to reach younger audiences, the more we can do to insure that opera has a vital place in our culture.


Service learning project completed by students in computer science and computer information systems:

UT Tyler Seniors Create Web Application for Veteran Students

Volunteers Survey Homeless Population in the Cold Rain

Jan. 22, 2015

TYLER (KYTX)-Volunteers walked and walked and walked in pouring rain to find the people living in these tents.

"I think its been a really eye opening experience, people aren't aware of this, I wouldn't think people live in tents," volunteer Aracely Arvizu said.

It's for the Point in Time survey. Volunteers have a list of questions to ask like why are you homeless and for how long? Daniel Duncan lives in a tent near the Smith County jail.

"It's miserable, boring and miserable, I've got plenty of food but it's just miserable," Duncan said.

He appreciates the services he gets, like clothes from the Salvation Army. Meeting Duncan was a learning experience for many.

"I learned that you have to be more aware of what's going on in your community and there are things you can do and ways you can participate and just a little bit of your time can make a difference for somebody," Arvizu said.

The survey is organized by the East Texas Human Needs Network. Founder Christina Fulsom says these results go a long way.

"We do it in great part to see whether or not the services we provide in our community are making a difference. Are we improving the situation for people experiencing homelessness," Fulsom asked.

The surveys will be used to help improve those services.

"The data that we use is actually used across the state and the nation. The data is also used by social services agencies to apply for funding, in particular federal funding," Fulsom said.

Organizations in Tyler have received a little more than half a million dollars to prevent homelessness, money that comes in thanks to results from this study. Many volunteers said this cold and rainy night has inspired them.

"Doing this it makes me want to be more proactive and I think from this point on I want to be more active in the community," Arvizu said.

The volunteers were split into five groups. Some searched the streets, others went to the Salvation Army, Mobile Loaves and Fishes and other shelters.

Organizers said this is the weather they have been praying for. On rainy nights like this, many people will go into the shelters or soup kitchens for some relief from the rain making them much easier to find.

The organizers will collect the surveys from all of those groups and compile the data.

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