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First Year Teacher Reflections — How Did Baylor SOE 2021 Grads Do? [08/12/2022]


Baylor School of Education prepares teachers by providing a depth of experience and a depth of knowledge. Seniors spend a full year in a local classroom with a mentor teacher, gaining more and more responsibility as the year progresses. But can anything really prepare them for their first year in their own classroom? Read the reflections of six of our 201 graduates and see how it went!

Morgan Hicks

Morgan Hicks, BSEd ’21, Elementary Education
Second grade

Smith Elementary,
Frisco ISD

“My first year was emotionally and mentally draining, while also being so rewarding at the same time. I was prepared for the actual teaching of the content, but boy was the behavioral side of teaching a challenge. My teammates kept telling me ‘this is not a normal year behaviorally’ due to COVID backlash. . . . I learned to treat each day as a new day in order to let go of grudges I might’ve had. This profession truly has its ups and downs, and boy will you go through them all.”


Kirby with Superintendent

Kirby Jarzombek Gentry, BSEd ’20, MSEd ’21
Third Grade
Bryant Elementary,

Prosper ISD

“Although I was still very nervous on the first day, I felt confident and calm approaching relationship building with my students and their families, classroom management, and teaching academic content. . . . I owe so much of what I have done this this year to the Baylor School of Education, as well as the mentor teachers I had during my time in schools at Baylor. Many of the activities I use in my classroom were modeled for me in graduate school or in my teacher prep classes.”


Rylee Jorges

Rylee Jorges, BSEd ’21, Secondary English
Second grade
Waco High School,
Waco ISD

“My first year of teaching has taught me that relationships are the key to student success. To put it simply, students will not learn from you if they do not like or trust you. . . . Students will learn from a great teacher, but sometimes the best teacher in the room was not me. Student-facilitated instruction played a key role in my classroom, and research shows that students learn the most while they are teaching others.”


Danielle Sanders

Danielle Sanders, BSEd ’21, All-Level Special Education
Self-contained classroom, first-third grades

“The Baylor School of Education was such a fabulous program to be a part of, and it has helped shape me into the educator I am today. . . . While I gained a plethora of experience and skills while in my role as a first-year teacher, I felt myself being called to a career other than traditional classroom teaching. . . . There are so many ways my Baylor Education degree has allowed me to open myself up to new possibilities.”


Cole Sussman, BSEd ’21, Elementary Education
Fourth Grade
Spring Valley Elementary,

Midway ISD

“I had chosen a difficult text about a troubled boy who joins a track team and has to learn how to be a teammate. . . . I asked my students the meaning of a quote from the coach character. . . .I received silent stares in response as they eliminated any literal meaning and began to think through the figurative. Then my sweet trouble-maker spoke up and said, ‘It means that you can’t escape who you really are; you have to face it and learn from it.’ He went on to tie this to the symbolism of colors in the book — red when the character was angry, black when he was remembering hardships, silver for hope. . . . and then a lively discussion began.”


Angela Tallent

Angela Tallent, BSEd ’21
Algebra II (tenth/eleventh grade)

Westlake High School,
Eanes ISD

“I remember how nervous I was before school started. The closer I got to the first day of school, the more I would ‘practice’ exactly what I was going to say to my class periods, as if it were a script and I was performing a play! I can laugh at how nervous I was to be interacting with my students on that day because they turned out to be my very favorite people to spend every single day of the year with. . . . After completing my very first year as a real-life-actual-adult teacher . . . I think this might have been the best year of my life so far.”



Baylor’s School of Education celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. The school boasts a variety of academic program options across its three departments: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, and Educational Psychology. Baylor’s award-winning undergraduate program in teacher education serves approximately 400 students and has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers with extensive clinical preparation.

More than 700 graduate students pursue advanced study and professional preparation in master’s, Ed.S., Ed.D., and Ph.D. programs. With exciting new academic initiatives both at home and abroad, the school is in a period of significant expansion and is poised for greater impact through the production of meaningful, high-quality research and the preparation of outstanding leaders, teachers, and clinicians. Visit to learn more.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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