During the 29th Annual School of Education (SOE) Senior Recognition Banquet, the SOE honored outstanding seniors within the school and its various programs. Students were recognized not only for their accomplishments as undergraduates, but also for their preparedness to impact the world.
Alexa Samuel, of Spring, Texas, received the EDICUT Pre-Service Educator of the Year Award for her exceptional performances within and outside of the Baylor classroom. Also known as “The Dean’s Award,” this honor is presented at each private university education program in Texas by the Education Deans of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (EDICUT).
While serving as a teaching intern at Connally Elementary School, Samuel went beyond the classroom in working for the school. She and her mentor teacher co-sponsored UIL activities, introduced a “Watch D.O.G.S.” (Dads of Great Students) program, and wrote a successful grant for iPads in the classroom. She also tutored children after school, participated in a “Nachos and Numbers” night for math-related activities, and planned a field trip to the Baylor Symphony.
“Alexa continuously implements engaging, challenging and thought-provoking activities into her lessons,” said Samuel’s intern supervisor, Dr. Rachelle Rogers, assistant clinical professor in the SOE. “It has been my honor to watch her grow to become an excellent educator.”
Samuel will graduate in May with a degree in middle school mathematics. Samuel said she plans to teach after completing a graduate program in Curriculum and Instruction.
Sarah Johnson, of Benton Harbor, Mich., was the recipient of the Dolores Coker Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Student in Education Award, named for a former SOE professor. Phi Delta Kappa International is a professional education organization that seeks knowledge to better understand educational processes and gives support for universal public education.
While a student in the SOE, Johnson has demonstrated the organization’s values through her academics and also as an administrative mentor and executive student director for the Leadership Living Learning Center (LEAD LLC) from 2010 to 2014.
“Sarah Johnson is one of the brightest and best,” said Dr. Randy Wood, professor for Curriculum and Instruction. “She has learned to make extremely thoughtful and energizing lessons through our PDS program. I have had few students who want to and can provide such exceptional work.”
Johnson will graduate in May with a degree in middle grades English, language arts and reading.
John Bernhart, a student in Exercise Physiology in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation (HHPR) and the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, is the only senior who received two awards. Bernhart, from Morgantown, W.Va., received the Outstanding HHPR Student Service Award for his voluntary contribution to numerous service activities within Baylor and the Waco community. He was also the Outstanding Senior Man in HHPR in recognition for his academic accomplishments, service and contributions to others abroad.
Bernhart’s record of volunteer service includes Baylor’s Steppin’ Out, a mission trip to Guatemala, the Special Olympics, Mission Waco and Baylor Buddies. He has also served as the Hillcrest Hospital student chaplain, a Sunday school teacher, student tutor and mentor. Bernhart has been on the Dean’s List, received a Baylor Excellence in Student Involvement Award and the President’s Gold Scholarship, as well as becoming a member of both the Texas Chapter of American College of Sports Medicine and Exercise Science Student Association at Baylor.
“I want to continue to give back within the opportunities that God has given me,” Bernhart said. “We’re always learning, we’re always being taught, so, until the day I die, I hope that I’m constantly learning and teaching.”
After graduation, Bernhart will pursue a Masters of Public Health at Baylor.
Lynette Atkinson, an all-level physical education major from St. Louis, Mo., was awarded Outstanding Senior Woman in HHPR. Also known as “Coach A,” Atkinson made the Dean’s List every semester and was also named an Outstanding Student at Baylor’s Honor’s Convocation. She competed on the Baylor Track and Field team and served as a reading mentor at a local elementary school, a Life Group Leader at Antioch Community Church, Special Olympics volunteer, and track and field coach for children.
“I’ve just always been inspired by teachers who have spoken into my life and encouraged me,” Atkinson said. “This is so worth it.”
SOE seniors also received Outstanding Student Awards in specific teacher education programs:
Lorena B. Stretch Award for Outstanding Student in Elementary Education
Major: Elementary Education
Hometown: Greenwood Village, Colo.
M.L. Goetting Award for Outstanding Student in Secondary Education
Major: Secondary English, Language Arts and Reading
Hometown: China Spring, Texas
Award for Outstanding Student in Middle School Education
Major: Middle Grades Mathematics
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Award for Outstanding Student in All-Level Education Programs
Major: All-Level Special Education
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Awards were also presented for each academic program to Outstanding Students in HHPR:
Hometown: Crowley, Texas
Recreation and Leisure Services
Hometown: Westlake, Texas
Health Science Studies
Hometown: Cibolo, Texas
Hometown: White Oak, Texas
Physical Education All-Level
Hometown: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hometown: Mesquite, Texas
Hometown: New Iberia, La.
By Briana Rojas