Two Texas teachers were honored at the annual Baylor University School of Education Senior Recognition Banquet on April 20. Every year, Baylor SOE honors memorable teachers who were nominated by Baylor School of Education seniors. Students submit essays to support their nomination, and educators are chosen by a Baylor faculty committee.
Those honored this year were Dennis Saffold of Addison and Stephanie Schminkey of Whitehouse.
Dennis Saffold was nominated by Alexa Roush, a senior elementary education major who met Saffold as a seventh-grader at Trinity Christian Academy. Saffold is a seventh-grade history and English teacher at Trinity Christian Academy, where he has been teaching for 31 years.
One of Saffold’s fondest memories of teaching at Trinity Christian Academy is playing basketball after school with the kids for 28 of those years. At TCA, he has served several different roles. He has been a teacher for fourth through ninth grades, a middle school administrator, and a soccer coach.
Saffold received his BA in English, along with his teaching certification, from San Jose State University. He then received his MA in educational leadership from Dallas Baptist University.
In her nomination essay, Roush details a traumatic sports injury and how Saffold help her overcome it. When she was not able to play the sport she loved, she was sent to Saffold’s classroom for study hall.
“What I did not realize at the time was that this man, despite his goofy nature, would change my entire perspective on teachers and students alike,” Roush said. “People don’t normally consider their teachers to be friends, but to me, that silly, old history-English teacher is still one of my best.”
Saffold’s love for his students has influenced Roush as a teacher. “Mr. Saffold had confidence in me when I didn’t have confidence in myself. He never gave up on me, and that’s why I never give up on my students,” Roush said.
Roush decided to pursue teaching because of the influence Saffold had on her and prays that she can influence a student’s life the way Mr. Saffold influenced hers.
Stephanie Schminkey was nominated by Baylor senior elementary education major, Hartley Cavett, who was a student in Schminkey’s third-grade class in Whitehouse.
Schminkey graduated from Stephen F. Austin University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and from Lamar University with a master’s in educational leadership. She also earned an associate degree in interdisciplinary studies from Tyler Junior College. She will begin working on a doctoral degree in educational leadership this summer at Lamar University.
An educator for 17 years, Schminkey has taught both third and fifth grades, with a specialization in reading. She is finishing up her fourth year as the assistant principal for Cain Elementary.
In Cavett’s nomination essay she explained the difficulty she had transitioning to a new school. “I remember feeling anxious and scared as I began a new school year at a new school with no friends yet,” she said. “From day one, Mrs. Schminkey made every single student feel welcome and loved. She made the classroom a safe place to be.”
Cavett said that, as a future teacher, she hopes to be half the teacher that Mrs. Schminkey was to her.
“Teaching is my passion and always has been,” Schminkey said. “I love the power of being able to captivate kids’ attention and keep them engaged in the simplest topics just by making it fun and relevant.”
Cavett believes that being in Schminkey’s third grade class was one of the best things that happened to her in elementary school. “I am so incredibly grateful for a teacher who loved each one of us daily and poured her heart into teaching.”
—By Lana Baugh
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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 Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
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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.