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Responsive Education for All Learners

Get REAL! provides beginning teachers with classroom-based training using curricula and technology-informed simulations and modules with multimedia explorations for all students in Pre-K-6 classrooms.

Sponsored by the Urban Institute for Teacher Education
with support from the
Sorensen Legacy Foundation

Dr. Maria Franquiz, Dean of the College of Education and Mary D. Burbank, Assistant Dean and Director of the Urban Institute for Teach Education (UITE) are pleased to announce an award from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation. Funding of nearly one million dollars will continue the collaborative efforts established through a first year of the Get REAL! initiative. In alignment with College goals for research, teaching, and community engagement, Get REAL! – Phase I included the development of a communication platform, preservice teacher education field experiences, and professional development.  Read more about this collaboration >>

Montessori     Inclusion     STEAM






 Teacher Stories   Why Teach?    Resources







Mary Burbank

Mary D. Burbank

Mary D. Burbank is the Assistant Dean for Teacher Education and Director of the Urban Institute for Teacher Education in the College of Education at the University of Utah. She holds the rank of Clinical Professor where she has been a faculty member since 1994.

In addition to her work with secondary preservice teachers, her teaching, research, and service interests include the identification of pathways to higher education for under-represented students and families. She has worked in collaboration with Colleges, Departments, Districts, and Community Stakeholders for over 20 years.

Gail Williamsen

Gail S. Williamsen

Executive Director - Elizabeth Academy

Gail Williamsen, along with her husband Thom, founded the Elizabeth Academy in 2008. Gail was born and raised in Salt Lake City and attended public schools, graduating from Highland High School. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Utah in English and her Master's Degree in Education from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

Jennifer Spikner

Jennifer Spikner

Head of School - Elizabeth Academy

Jennifer Spikner has worked in the field of education since 1987. She has held a number of roles including classroom teacher, teacher trainer, and administrator. She is currently the Head of School at Elizabeth Academy, an inclusive Montessori school in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jennifer is on the faculty of the Institute for Montessori Innovation at Westminster College where she teaches courses for lower elementary teachers.

Why Teach?

Why Teach?

Educators are in the unique position of impacting lives in ways that are far reaching and lasting. As members of a profession dedicated to the success of youth, teachers’ work brings opportunities to learners to make the world accessible, meaningful, and filled with potential for the future.
Coupled with a teacher's role in facilitating pathways to the future, is a teacher’s ability to ignite passion, curiosity, and wonder. Perhaps we must answer the question Why Teach? with Why Not?!

What is Get REAL?

GetREAL Description video

About this project

Teacher educators have a critical role in the preparation of future teachers who value and enact teaching practices with linkages across the curriculum. These interdisciplinary efforts are crucial for fine arts, mathematics, and science with ties to technology and engineering.

While curriculum integration is critical for all learners, the unique needs of children with disabilities and those learning English require specialized curricula and experiential learning that meet the vibrant characteristics of these learners.  Get REAL provides real world opportunities to see these goals in action.


Last Updated: 8/18/16