Three Texas teachers were honored by the Baylor School of Education (SOE) April 13 on the Baylor campus. Each year, the Baylor SOE honors memorable teachers or mentors as part of its annual Senior Recognition Banquet. Memorable educators are nominated by the Baylor students, who submit an essay to support their nomination, and then chosen by a Baylor faculty committee.
Teachers honored were Becky Griffith of Nacogdoches, Jerry Sutterfield of Dallas, and Christy Walker of Crawford.
Becky Griffith was nominated by SOE senior Carley Redfield, an elementary education major. Griffith retired from Stephen F. Austin State University after 30 years of teaching elementary and university students. She taught first and second grade in Nacogdoches Independent School District and in the SFA Charter School and then taught at Stephen F. Austin State University. She was Redfield’s second-grade teacher in Nacogdoches.
At the banquet, Redfield presented her essay on Griffith, saying that Griffith showed her that the best teachers make their students feel like the most special person in the world. “She would look into our little eyes each and every morning, and we knew that she didn’t just see us as her students; she saw us as her very own children. . . . She exhibited how a teacher has the power to enhance the wonder within a child’s heart; she did exactly that to mine. Mrs. Becky Griffith, you are my hero.”
She said that Griffith inspired her to strive for the best as she begins her own teaching career as a Baylor graduate. “I strive every day to be someone’s Mrs. Becky, because if I can do that, I can make a child feel more loved than he or she ever has before.”
Griffith also spoke at the banquet, reflecting on her time as a teacher. “What do I remember most about my years in the classroom? The answer is joy — joy every day, every single day!” she said. “And most of it came from the little things . . . laughing, singing, dancing, sharing beloved books and poems, solving problems together, working through difficulties . . . the feel of a hot, sweaty hand slip into mine, the weight of their heads on me as we shared chapter books after lunch . . . these are what I hold closest to my heart.”
Griffith said building relationships “in the community we call a classroom” is the most important part. For a well-trained, hard-working teacher, everything else falls into place, she said.
Jerry Sutterfield was nominated by Lauren Bagwell, a secondary social studies major, because of his impact on her as her cross-country coach. Sutterfield retired in 2013 after a successful career as a cross-country, football and track and field coach who taught industrial arts.
Sutterfield graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1979 with a degree in industrial arts and received his master’s in industrial technology from East Texas State University in 1987. His teaching career began at Carrollton-Farmers school district teaching and ended at Highland Park Independent School District where he taught and coached the girl’s cross-country team who were the 2013 Division 4A State Champions.
At the banquet, Bagwell shared her essay on Sutterfield’s influence on her stating, “He is a coach that holds everyone to the same standard regardless of their talent and skill level… He modeled what it looked like to be humble and have humility.”
Sutterfield reminded everyone at the banquet to stay true to who they were and their values. “You learn, as an educator, to adapt to many situations, but you are always you,” he said. “Use your knowledge of science, music and reading to teach children to believe in themselves to be more than they ever imagined.”
Lastly, Christy Walker was nominated by Allie Smith, an SOE senior majoring in secondary mathematics.
Walker grew up in Waco, graduated from Baylor University with a teaching degree and began teaching at Crawford Independent School District (CISD) in 1975. She has taught at both the junior high and high school level. Walker currently teaches Honors Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus and Calculus classes and has taught junior high mathematics and Algebra 1. At CISD, Walker helps direct the annual One-Act Play, coaches University Interscholastic League, sponsors Beta Club and supports Relay for Life.
Allie presented her essay which reflected on Walker’s determination and passion for teaching mathematics. “She has created a ripple effect, and through those she has inspired an equipped to become math teachers, she is continually impacting countless other students as they learn mathematics.”
“Mrs. Walker’s legacy lives on,” Smith said; as many of Walker’s former students have gone on to pursue careers in teaching and mathematics. Dr. Amy Maddox, Senior Lecturer of Statistical Science and Dr. Rachelle Rogers, Assistant Clinical Professor in Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education have both been taught by Walker in high school.
Walker also spoke at the banquet, passing on her wisdom to graduating seniors. “Students need to realize that trying is equally as important as succeeding,” she said. “In fact, much more is learned in trying!”
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