Baylor School of Education student Stephanie Wright of Plano was named “Student Teacher of the Year” for the State of Texas by the Texas Directors of Field Experience (TDFE), the organization of faculty members within university teacher-education programs who supervise field experiences. The award honors senior-level teacher-education students and was presented at a statewide meeting in October of the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education (CSOTTE), of which TDFE is a part. There were three honorees from university-based programs.
Wright graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University in May 2016 with a BSEd in Special Education All Level and completed her student-teaching experience at Midway ISD’s Hewitt Elementary in grades K-4. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, also in Baylor School of Education.
Wright said her approach to her students and teaching is simple — be caring and compassionate.
“Many of my students have so many obstacles to overcome, but I believe in them,” Wright said. “They bring out the best in me, and I know that education is the most important factor in their lives.”
She said the best part of student teaching was getting to be involved in the lives of her students each day. “I love the instructional times, but mostly I love all the crazy little things that happen in between,” she said. “My students constantly reminded me that childhood is fleeting and very precious. I felt blessed to be part of theirs for that short time we were together.”
Dr. Krys Goree, director of the Office of Professional Practice for the Baylor School of Education and director of field experiences for Baylor students, said the award, which honors outstanding instruction and interaction with children, was extremely competitive. Each nominee submitted a video of a full class session in which they were lead teacher, and judges watched each video.
“Stephanie’s dedication and commitment to her students is obvious and impressive,” Goree said.
Dr. Tonya Davis, associate professor in educational psychology and director of the Special Education Program in the Department of Educational Psychology, called Wright one of the most intelligent students she has ever taught.
“Stephanie is not only incredibly smart, she is also an all-around teacher and student,” Davis said. “She masters teaching techniques fluidly, and her students adore her.”
Wright said she really appreciated the emphasis on field experience at Baylor, especially the opportunity to begin teaching students in the first semester on campus. “I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for student teaching, but I felt like I had all of the foundational skills going in,” she said.
Baylor education majors, during their senior year, teach in local classrooms for more than 100 days during the school year. The state requirement for teacher certification is 60 days.
“I had an incredible experience in the School of Education,” Wright said. “The professors are amazingly supportive and always willing to talk and problem solve about issues we were having in the classroom. They were dedicated to us becoming good teachers and also to the students we were teaching.”
Baylor senior Kaitlin Welsh of Aledo was also honored for “Exceptional Academic and Instructional Abilities” by CSOTTE and the Quest for Quality program. Welsh graduated summa cum laude in May 2016 with a BSEd in Elementary Education. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction at Baylor.
Dr. Sheila Gloer, senior lecturer of curriculum and instruction, said Welsh was loved and respected by her students and the staff at her intern school Mountainview Elementary. She said Welsh’s teaching style motivates and challenges all of her students and that she has the ability to assess and break down the specific tasks for each of her students to maximize their potential. “Her classroom presence created an environment where her students have great care and concern for each others’ success,” Gloer said.
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Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and PhD. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.