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Making an Impact on the Future



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Teachers are some the most important people in our country. They teach, shape and mold the minds of our future and the School of Education at LeTourneau University prides itself in graduating teachers not only ready for the classroom but also excelling by state standards. “LETU’s School of Education is a “hands-on” educational experience,” said Dr. Julie Teel-Borders, the Coordinator of Field Experiences and Professor of Teacher Education. “Here theory and practice are melded together in real-life applications. Our students work with Early Childhood – 12 students beginning their freshman year until they graduate,” said Teel-Borders.

Not surprisingly, the technology-based teaching simulations available to students in Education set the program apart. “It is a virtual-reality environment where beginning professionals practice and master complex interpersonal skills necessary to be effective in a high-stress profession,” Teel-Borders explained. “The simulation experience is a valuable technological tool that has improved LETU’s faculty’s ability to prepare our clinical teacher for real-world classroom teaching, professional debriefing, reflection and growth. It allows participants to target specific skill, issues, content in a realistic classroom environment,” she said. During the simulations, the clinical teachers are given school situations that may be challenging in a school setting that they will likely encounter during their careers. Parent-teacher conferences with irate parents, developing rapport with unruly students while introducing class content, bullying issues and job interviews are some of the scenarios clinical teachers work through during the simulations. “As The Christian Polytechnic University, the use of this technology certainly fits into our core purpose. This specific software is phenomenal for a wide range of disciplines,” Teel-Borders said.

Students in the School of Education are well prepared not only for classroom experiences, but also have excellent pass rates for teacher certification. “The pass rate for the Professional and Pedagogical exam was 88% and 86% for Content Exams for the combined students enrolled in the traditional and online School of Education,” said Beth Nelms, LETU Director of Educator Certification. Also, students in Education know that faculty are “all-in” for their personal, professional and spiritual growth. “Our current students often tell prospective students, “Our professors truly care about us…and they will be up in your business to take care of your business,” said Teel-Borders.

The faculty in the School of Education could be professors at any University across the nation, but they intentionally choose to be at LeTourneau University. “The quality of LETU students who are studying to become teachers, missionaries, coaches, principals are why our first-rate faculty choose to be here,” Teel-Borders said. The students witness the way their faculty find the most innovative ways to teach and they take that with them when they enter classrooms. “The love and care our students take into and model in local public and private schools is exceptionally inspiring,” said Teel-Borders.

One source of pride is several student teachers in the School of Education have been named Student Teacher of the Year. Dr. Teel-Borders said, “LETU student teachers are unique because they are motivated by their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They are grounded in their growing and evolving relationship with Him.” The student teachers in Education grow and mature professionally during their time in the program through coursework, interpersonal relationships, research and field experience. “Colossians 3:23 is the scripture imprinted on the School of Education’s t-shirts. It reads, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, not for men”, and our faculty and student teachers take this verse seriously,” she said.

Graduates of the School of Education are highly sought-after classroom teachers and most have positions waiting on them after they graduate. “Local principals regularly contact our teacher ed faculty hoping to employ our graduates. They recognize our teacher candidates are the kind of teachers they want in their districts,” Teel-Borders said.

Teachers in today’s classrooms face challenges that teachers of even five years ago never thought of; teacher evaluation and teacher retention are topics that are of concern. “The state of Texas has adopted a relatively new evaluation system for its teachers, Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS). It is a tremendous tool that engages our preservice teachers in rigorous professional development throughout our educator preparation program,” she said. According to the Texas Education Agency, initial teacher certifications have declined by 14% in the last decade, while students enrolled has increased by 14% in the same time frame. However, according to Shelby Ware, adjunct School of Education faculty and Estes Library Director, there is some good news. “Our state government is actually addressing the teacher shortage. House Bill 3, described as a “sweeping and historic finance bill” was passed in August 2019 increasing funds for teacher salaries and classroom resources,” she said.

LeTourneau University and its students, faculty and staff, like most Americans, have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and all courses were transitioned to online instruction for the remainder of the academic year. For student teachers in Education, this transition presented problems, but also opportunities to use the creativity and ingenuity they have been taught at LETU. “Overall, our students and faculty are managing exceptionally well. As usual, LETU’s ingenuity and commitment to excellence means we continue to engage and are going strong,” Teel-Borders said. “It has truly been inspiring to see the quality of dedication our LETU student teachers have continued to exhibit,” she said.

Kalynn Hudman has been clinical/student teaching in Kindergarten at Spring Hill Primary with her cooperating teacher, Brittany Sipes. She has participated in a drive-through parade in her students’ neighborhoods and has engaged her students during a ZOOM call. She has also remained connected to her students by mailing crafts and letters to them. “I wrote them a letter and told them how much I missed them and encouraged them to write back to me,” she said. Hudman has also recorded videos of herself reading stories to her students and is excited to be able to continue to be a part of their learning.

While remaining connected to students in their classes has been challenging, they have also found that fun can be had in this type of environment. Morgan Taylor has been clinical teaching at Pine Tree High School in Forensics and Biology with her cooperating teacher, Judy Dobler. She says, “I will be creating Murder Mystery riddles for our forensics classes. The riddle is posted on a discussion board and the students are to solve the riddle by discussing it with each other. So far it has been a lot of fun. The guesses are more creative than I would think possible.”

Teel-Borders cannot emphasize enough how each member of the faculty of the School of Education plays a valuable and important role in their students’ successes. “Our education preparation director of certification, Beth Nelms, is an expert at coordinating all of the information that the Texas Education Agency mandates for our educator preparation program. Our academic assistant, Stacey Hudman, has established a student lounge that contains a welcoming space for our students to relax. Our CEAS Assistant to the Dean, Karen Austin, generously pours her love into each of our faculty while also loving and caring for all the faculty in the many departments within CEAS. We are a blessed School of Education,” she said.

The School of Education’s mission is an important one that they all take seriously. “Our faculty take servant leadership seriously in our call to honor Christ. We realize we are image bearers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Teel-Borders. “Equipping our students with spiritual and professional tools is our priority.”