Students and co-workers mourn credited STEM teacher catapulting – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

An East Dallas middle school is mourning the loss of a beloved teacher recognized for bringing their STEM academy to the world stage. Great educators have a way of leaving a lasting impact. That’s what Eliana Tseng did for her students at Robert T. Hill Middle School in Dallas.

Former pupil Maya Masters-Fairman joined others on the school steps on Wednesday evening to remember Ms Tseng. She passed away unexpectedly last week, leaving her colleagues and students heartbroken.

“I always imagined that she would be writing recommendations for me forever and graduating from high school next year,” Masters-Fairman said. “And now we’re here for her today.”

Tseng was not just a teacher, but a leader in the school’s STEM program. His passion was evident by the more than 40 trophies his STEM and Robotics team won in the last nine years alone.

It was so important for Maya to be here that she drove with her mother from Atlanta. Maya’s mother, Natalie Masters, said they parked the car and drove the 12-hour drive as soon as they heard the news. Tseng had made such a difference in his daughter’s life.

“She learned to code at the age of 12 thanks to Ms. Tseng. Maya’s opportunities, interests, future career, what she thinks she can do and how she sees herself being impacted by Ms Tseng,” she said.

Several people shared memories of Ms. Tseng – who was a mentor, friend, colleague and leader in a field where women were historically underrepresented.

According to the Pew Research Center, STEM occupations among women are very varied. According to its findings, women are overrepresented in health-related jobs and underrepresented in physical sciences, computer science and engineering.

Based on employed adults aged 25 and over, women make up 74% of health professionals and technicians. Women represent only 15% of engineers and architects.

School principal Candice Ruiz said she had conversations with Tseng about the Academy’s representation and leadership.

“At one point we talked about naming our STEM program and she said, ‘it’s going to have to be after women, there are so many great women out there,'” Ruiz said. “She was asking the students to do some research and letting them know there was a possibility.”

The STEM Academy symbol hangs from the window of Ms. Tseng’s classroom. It’s reminiscent of a teacher who told students at a middle school tucked away in east Dallas that they could be anything.

“Anything she told me I could be that I didn’t necessarily see myself, that’s where I’m headed,” Masters-Fairman said. “I wish she could see it.”

Ryan H. Bowman