Baylor School of Education (SOE) recognized seven seniors as outstanding students at the 38th Annual Senior Recognition Banquet in late April. Seniors were recognized for their excellence in academic and fieldwork in education programs and their readiness to impact the world. Baylor SOE senior award recipients (biographies below) for 2023 are:
- Emily Kessler — EDICUT Preservice Educator of the Year Award
- Sara Easley — Delores Coker Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Student in Education
- Julia Morrison — Lorena B. Stretch Award for Outstanding Student in Elementary Education
- Savannah Webster — Outstanding Student in Middle Grades Education
- Faith Stuchly — M.L. Goetting Award for Outstanding Student in Secondary Education
- Betsua Morales — Outstanding Student in EC-12 Education Programs
- Megan Forshee — Outstanding Student with a Minor in Education
EDICUT Preservice Educator of the Year Award
Emily Kessler, an elementary education major from San Antonio, received the 2023 EDICUT Preservice Educator of the Year Award. Known as the “Dean’s Award,” the honor is presented at each private university education program in Texas by the Education Deans of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (EDICUT). During her senior year, Kessler was a student teaching intern at Robinson Primary School in Robinson ISD, serving in the classrooms of mentor teachers Raven Richard Hopkins, BSEd ’17, and Nikki Bailey. Dr. Bianca Ochoa was her Baylor intern supervisor.
Kessler said that she chose to be a teacher to “follow in my mom’s footsteps,” after following in her father’s footsteps as a Baylor University graduate.
Both mentor teachers lauded Kessler for her eagerness to serve the students in her class. Hopkins said, “Emily is a very hard worker and will to do what is best for the team. Emily is always willing to learn and improve her craft!”
Bailey added, “Emily is always going above and beyond her duties as an intern and has been a huge asset in the classroom. She has grown so much as an educator and will do great things in her future classroom.”
While at Baylor, Kessler was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, education honor society Kappa Delta Pi, honor society Alpha Lambda Delta, and the Baylor International Justice Mission. In the Waco community she served as a girls’ group leader for the Kids Ministry of Antioch Church and volunteered at the Waco Family Abuse Center.
Delores Coker Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Student in Education
Sara Easley, an elementary education major from Grapeland, received the 2023 Delores Coker Phi Delta Kappa Award for Outstanding Student in Education. Easley was a student teaching intern at Hewitt Elementary School in Midway ISD in the fourth-grade classrooms of mentor teachers Valerie Taylor and Ginger Rhodes. Dr. Barbara Purdum Cassidy, Baylor clinical associate professor, was her intern supervisor.
Phi Delta Kappa is a professional education association for educators around the world, and Dr. Coker was a longtime faculty member in Baylor SOE.
Easley said her goal as an educator is to offer a safe and positive environment for every student. “I believe education to be the most powerful tool any person can have, and I am honored to get to provide that to my students,” she said.
Mentor teacher Valerie Taylor said, “Sara is one of the most caring individuals I have ever known. She brings such a deep love for students to her classroom and a commitment to serving them well. I know she will have such a tremendous impact on the many students she will serve in the years to come because her heart is literally Texas-sized.”
Mentor teacher Ginger Rhodes said, “Sara has built great relationships with her students. They trust her and respect what she has to say.”
Easley was a member of the School of Education’s Student Advisory Council, serving as a student ambassador.
Lorena B. Stretch Award for Outstanding Student in Elementary Education
Julia Morrison, an elementary education major from Sugar Land, received the 2023 Lorena B. Stretch Award for Outstanding Student in Elementary Education. Morrison was a student teaching intern in fourth grade at South Bosque Elementary School in Midway ISD in the classrooms of mentor teachers Amber Brown and Lindsey Pick.
Morrison said she chose a career in education because she has always loved school and was in awe of her teachers. “When I realized I could study how to be a teacher in college, I was ecstatic,” she said.
“Baylor School of Education’s program exposed me to some of the best elementary teachers, who modeled how incredible it is to make learning fun and accessible to all students,” she added. “I fell in love with planning lessons that would make my students excited to learn. There is nothing more fulfilling than giving students a safe space where they are excited to try something new.”
Morrison’s Baylor intern supervisor, Lisa Plemons, said she stood out as confident and always prepared. “Her high expectations, rapport, preparedness, and content knowledge keep students engaged and eliminate behavior problems,” Plemons said. “Her instruction is provided like a veteran teacher, varying the activities, knowing areas of possible misconceptions, and strategically sequencing the content to make it most accessible for students to learn and engage.”
Morrison was a member of the School of Education’s Student Advisory Council and worked as a student assistant in the School of Education’s library. She was a member of St. Peter Catholic Student Center in Waco and served as the outreach officer.
Outstanding Student in Middle Grades Education
Savannah Webster, middle grades mathematics major from Katy, with a minor in recreational ministry, received the 2023 Award for Outstanding Student in Middle Grades Education. Webster was a student teaching intern in the seventh-grade mathematics classroom of Austin McClinton, BSEd ’16, at Midway Middle School in Midway ISD.
Webster said she chose education because students need someone they can go to when they need encouragement, support, and care. “God has totally given me a passion for teaching and coaching. I had so many great teachers and mentors in high school, and I hope to be someone that my own students look up to one day,” she said. “I want to create an environment where my students feel safe and loved so that they are put in the best position to learn and grow.”
McClinton said, “Savannah has a huge heart and pours into her students each and every day. It’s obvious watching her that she’s living out her purpose and making a tremendous impact on kids’ lives that are fortunate enough to be under her care.”
Her Baylor intern supervisor, clinical professor Dr. Rachelle Rogers, said Webster shows “pure joy” and excitement when learning instructional strategies that will help engage and challenge her students. “Savannah is not satisfied until each student experiences success,” Rogers noted.
While at Baylor, Webster was a member of Chi Omega and served as the intramural chair. In addition to teaching at Midway Middle School, she coached volleyball and basketball there.
M.L. Goetting Award for Outstanding Student in Secondary Education
Faith Stuchly, a secondary social studies major from Houston, is the 2023 recipient of the M.L. Goetting Award for Outstanding Student in Secondary Education. The award is named in honor of Dr. M.L. Goetting, who was dean of the School of Education from 1957 – 1971. Stuchly was also recognized as an outstanding student in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at Baylor University’s Academic Honors Convocation.
Stuchly was a student teaching intern in the social studies classroom of mentor teacher Sarah Baranowski at Midway High School in Midway ISD.
Stuchly said she chose a career in education to serve students. “I want to teach because I want to be there for students, like my teachers were for me,” she said. “I want all of my students to feel loved and safe.”
Dr. Neil Shanks, Baylor clinical assistant professor and Stuchly’s intern supervisor, said Stuchly’s professionalism and attention to detail are impressive. “She has never missed a deadline, manages her responsibilities as an intern and extracurricular work with aplomb, and even volunteered for additional mentoring from one of our doctoral students so that she could grow as a reflective practitioner,” Shanks said. “Further, she is an adept lesson planner who implements her lessons skillfully with a level of pacing, organization, and execution that belie her limited experience in the classroom. She is truly a model professional and an exemplar for our program.”
Stuchly was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and the Baylor Dance Company.
Outstanding Student in EC-12 Education Programs
Betsua Morales, an all-level Spanish education major, is the 2023 recipient of the Award for Outstanding Student in EC-12 Education. Morales was a student teaching intern in the Spanish classroom of mentor teacher Ivette Torres at Midway High School in Midway ISD.
Morales said she chose a career in education because she believes students should have teachers who allow them to feel safe and welcomed amidst all the struggles that high school can bring.
“I want students to know and experience that learning a new language can be fun and open many opportunities for them in the future,” Morales said. “It is fulfilling to see students arrive to class excitedly and enjoy learning my first language (Spanish) and cultural aspects of Latin American countries.”
Morales’ Baylor intern supervisor, Dr. Lee Anne Brannon, said Morales stands out for her dedication to spreading the knowledge and value of her heritage language of Spanish while also raising her daughter to be bilingual.
“She is a fabulous example of why and how being bilingual is a superpower, and she will serve our community after graduation as a dynamic, talented, and special local Spanish teacher,” Brannon said.
Mentor teacher Ivette Torres added, “Betsua has been great to our students and to me. They know that she prepares them well for their tests and projects! She provides different and interesting activities that help them learn, practice, and apply what they are learning in class. Betsua offers content with rigor, but at the same time provides the support the students need to be successful.”
Outstanding Student with a Minor in Education
Megan Forshee is the 2023 recipient of the Award for Outstanding Student with a Minor in Education. She graduated with a BA, majoring in history and religion with a minor in secondary education.
Forshee was a student teaching intern in the eleventh-grade U.S. history classroom of mentor teacher Ronald Fox at University High School in Waco ISD.
Forshee said she chose to be an educator because of her passion for teaching and serving others. “I have loved history since high school, and I hope to demonstrate the value I believe it brings to our daily lives in developing empathy, questioning skills, and an understanding of the diverse world around us,” she said. “Even more importantly, I hope that students will come away with a sense of their own role as historic actors and the impact they have, especially as they come to understand the world around them.”
Dr. Neil Shanks, Forshee’s intern supervisor, said, “Meg quickly integrated herself into the school community, pushing the campus’s U.S. History PLC [professional learning community] to adopt more student-centered lessons. Her commitment to her students and to going the extra mile to plan lessons that drew on students’ interests, backgrounds, and culture were beneficial to every eleventh grader at University High School and the entire school community.”
At Baylor, Forshee was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa honor society and was a member of Kappa Chi Alpha, a non-denominational social and service sorority for Christian women. She is a member of Highland Baptist Church.
For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. 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. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE 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.