Dr. Laila Sanguras, a lecturer in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction, received the Baylor University Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching / Non-Tenure Track. Sanguras teaches primarily in the EdD Online in Learning and Organizational Change. While carrying a full teaching load, Sanguras also mentors students, directs dissertation projects, and takes the lead in revising course sequences and in developing new initiatives.
“Dr. Sanguras’s student evaluations are consistently strong,” said Dr. Brooke Blevins, Associate Professor, department chair, and Conwell G. Strickland Endowed Chair. “Students frequently comment on the thorough and meaningful feedback provided by Dr. Sanguras . . . and how genuine and engaging Dr. Sanguras is during live sessions of the course and how she takes the time to get to know each student.” Students also describe her as “firm but fair,” Blevins said. Sanguras’ areas of teaching include educational evaluation and mixed methods research.
SOE EdD student George Galindo said, “Attending Baylor has been the best decision of my educational career, and it is because of professors like Dr. Sanguras. Methodical, caring, and incredibly knowledgeable, she defines what it means to be an exceptional professor at the university. Her guidance and teaching have impacted me far beyond our classroom. I became a better instructor for the students in my program through her modeling of best practices, a stronger researcher in my doctoral work because of her mentorship, and a better person because of her faith in me and my potential. I would not be a doctoral candidate today if it was not for Dr. Sanguras.”
Sanguras said, even though her family valued education, she was the first to graduate from college, so she tries to understand the challenges her students in the online EdD program are facing.
“While pursuing my PhD, I was a full-time teacher and a single mom,” Sanguras said. “I remember feeling like an outsider because I was stretched across multiple priorities and did not have the same relationship with my professors that my peers had. The students in our program are also juggling careers, coursework, and families. While the details of our stories may differ, the trajectories are similar. I approach my role with a commitment to opening as many doors for our students as possible.”
Although Sanguras’ position as lecturer does not require research, she is an active researcher in gifted education and co-editor of Gifted Education Review, a publication designed to bridge research and practice for teachers and parents. Her primary scholarly interest is the development of psychosocial skills, particularly grit and coping, and how teachers and parents can support their children to succeed academically and personally. She works closely with school districts and parent organizations to bring research to practice. Sanguras also presents at numerous professional conferences and enjoys mentoring students on their personal research projects.
Sanguras strongly encourages research among her doctoral students and serves as chair for 13 problem-of-practice dissertations. She also recruits and organizes students to present at national conferences and recently organized five groups of students who responded to her encouragement to work on research presentations for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference.
Sanguras also developed and led the inaugural Baylor Emerging Research Conference (BERC), giving SOE graduate students the opportunity to share their research.
Sanguras also serves the university by being a thought leader for the program, Blevins said. “As our nation found itself in the midst of a racial reckoning last summer, Dr. Sanguras was among the first to recognize the need for our program to take action,” Blevins said. “Following the statement by President Livingstone, our program crafted a statement to convey to our students, a diverse population who were profoundly impacted by Floyd’s death, that the faculty in this program were committed to a position of social justice that challenges the roles of power, privilege, and oppression in our society.”
Sanguras then developed a survey to capture student experiences in the program, Blevins said. “She analyzed the results of this survey and proposed a series of action steps to the other lead faculty in the program,” Blevins said. “These included a commitment by program faculty to participate in opportunities focused on equity and racial healing, soliciting feedback from students about experiences in which they have felt marginalized, and organizing guided listening opportunities for students and faculty to understand the varied experiences and backgrounds of all students.”
Dr. Sanguras earned a B.S. in education from Western Oregon University, followed by a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University and Ph.D. in educational research from the University of North Texas.
Sanguras is one of three School of Education faculty members to receive a Baylor Outstanding Faculty Award for 2021. Dr. Stephanie Gerow received the Outstanding Faculty Award for Research for tenure-track faculty, and Dr. Lakia Scott received the Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching for tenure-track faculty.
For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, leaders in K12 and higher education, psychologists, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing 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. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
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