Professor, Graduate Certificate in Early Intervention Studies
Trisha Ainsa's interest and involvement in special education started early when her sibling was born with special needs. At the age of five, she became his instructor, teaching him everything she possibly could and today, she remains closer than ever to him.
This passion for special education has followed her through her life and career. Dr. Ainsa received her doctorate in Pediatric Audiology from the University of Colorado and came to UTEP in 1977 with a desire to teach and promote online learning in the schools. In the 1980s, she developed Computergarten, for Scholastic Inc. This was a tool to develop computer literacy in kindergarteners; even then Dr. Ainsa knew that children would have to do more than learn to write with a pencil to be included in what was then considered a new technology.
Today, Dr. Ainsa is a professor in UTEP's Early Intervention Studies program and teaches Early Intervention and Special Education. She has several certifications and has won many awards for her work in her field.
Teaching Honors/Awards she has won in the last 20 (out of 43) years
- University of Texas Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award, 2012
- Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Teaching Award: Piper Professor, 2000 (10 Piper Professors were awarded in Texas that year)
- The Quest for Quality Teacher Preparation in Texas (Quest for Quality) Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Award for Excellence in Exemplary Faculty Practices in Teacher Preparation, 2012
- Top 25 Women Professors in Texas awarded by Online Schools in Texas, 2013
- Professional Development Certificate in Distance Education awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, 2004
- UTEP Distinguished Achievement Award for Service to Students, 2003
- Leadership Texas Foundation for Women’s Resources, 2001
Her proudest accomplishment and biggest challenge as an online instructor:
Winning teaching awards while teaching online confirms that distance education can be done well (although it is a big inconvenience when technology does not work).
The biggest challenge was developing a learning object that helped students prepare and practice for the state certification exam. Prepare to Pass successfully filled this need.
Another original learning object, Soul Tending Teacher, was modified to introduce introspective mindfulness in order for the students to search their hearts and determine what special gifts they have to offer in the classroom or in their teaching career. Students have enjoyed this immensely and many students used some of these statements on their resumes.
Note: Prepare to Pass and Soul Tending Teacher are tools developed by Dr. Ainsa.
On what makes a successful online student:
Tenacity and willingness to ask questions. Keeping a calendar and placing when assignments are due on their calendar helps too.
Her advice to her students:
Ask me -- not your fellow classmates -- but ME. UTEP pays me to help you and I am willing to do this 24/7.
Students are even given my cell number. Several years ago I was at a dinner at the White House with the 1966 Texas Western College Championship Basketball team when a student’s call came in while I was in line to meet the President. I thought nothing of taking the call and answering the student’s questions while I was waiting. Students come first. I am here for them.