“I think it’s particularly important to be an educator in today’s society,” said Dr. Scarlet Clouse, dean of the College of Education. “You’re just so much more because teachers have the ability to positively impact students for the rest of their lives. We have that latitude to effect change.”
Whether you travel to Abilene or Odessa, farther away to College Station or Dallas-Fort Worth, or even farther to Nepal or Germany, Angelo State alumni are influencing school districts across the globe.
Locally, that influence can be distinctly felt in the Concho Valley. During the San Angelo ISD’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year ceremony, all but three of the 25 nominees were ASU alumni.
“Many of our teachers are graduates of Angelo State,” said Dr. Farrah Gomez, SAISD assistant superintendent of human resources and professional learning. “It’s always beneficial when we have a university right here in town where we can grow teachers. We work hand-in-hand with each other.”
ASU alumni also teach in most, if not all, of the school districts in the surrounding area.
“On a local level, our goal is to fill the needs of the community,” Clouse explained. “I feel it’s kind of our mission as the College of Education to provide really well-prepared teachers for schools. That means to make sure we have students who know the culture, the environment and the communities.”
At the undergraduate level, future teachers earn their degree through ASU’s Department of Teacher Education.
“We do dispositional surveys on each of our students three times,” said Dr. Kimberly Dickerson, department chair, “at the beginning of the program, in the middle and as they’re exiting. We look to see if they’ve grown in particular areas so we can say, ‘Yes, you are ready to be a teacher,’ or, ‘We think there is more growth needed.’”
That growth is crafted by balancing classroom instruction with practical application. Students complete multiple hours of fieldwork through their initial years in the program.
“They’re spending quite a bit of time out in the schools,” Dickerson said. “They’re designing lesson plans. They’re working very closely with the professors we have. They’re spending a lot of time beginning to perfect their craft before they go into clinical.”
That clinical, more commonly known as student teaching, comprises a semester when students spend each day in a classroom with an experienced teacher.
“We equate it to saying, ‘We’re not going to let a doctor go into an operating room for the first time without having had those experiences,’” Dickerson explained. “The same can be said for teaching. You need to be with someone who can help you learn how to teach, manage a classroom, and show you some of the things we talk about in classes.”
Another important component is ASU’s Educator Preparation Information (EPI) Center. It serves as the primary advising location for education majors and also manages teacher certification across campus.
“We have elementary and middle school specializations in teacher education,” Dickerson said. “But if they’re interested in content like history, English or biology, that comes from their specific departments. They would get a degree in that area, and then get their certification with us. They student teach, but that comes through our EPI Center.”
Since 2015, ASU has certified 480 teachers. But the College of Education produces far more than that.
“Many of SAISD’s leaders have gone through graduate work at Angelo State,” Gomez said. “I can think of four leaders right off the top who have received their master’s degree from ASU in principal work. It’s a huge impact – Angelo State is the university that most of our folks are turning to.”
“We equate it to saying, ‘We’re not going to let a doctor go into an operating room for the first time without having had those experiences.’ The same can be said for teaching.”
Dr. Kimberly Dickerson
Current teachers can enhance their credentials to obtain various leadership positions across the education field. This graduate-level work is completed through ASU’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
“We have a broad number of courses and programs because we have students with all kinds of backgrounds,” said Dr. Kim Livengood, department chair.
With the graduate programs offered 100% online, students come from all over the world and from a variety of backgrounds besides traditional education fields, including military, healthcare and large corporations. But, those students do much more than sit at a computer.
“Field experience is absolutely crucial,” Livengood said. “We aim for the entire program to be 50% theory, 50% practical experience. That means that, yes, several of our programs have the practicum where they are placed in their field. We also have specific assignments that are designed to get them out from behind the computer screen to apply the theory.”
Several programs within the department are consistently ranked at the national level, and the word is getting out.
“We’re quality,” Livengood said. “Students get something practical out of our programs. We’ve never had to advertise. We have simply relied on word of mouth.”
“It doesn’t matter where you live, our world is global no matter what. If they really want to prepare their students to be in a global society, educators need to be aware of that global view to begin with.”
Dr. Kim Livengood
“We model what we want them to do,” she added. “We invest in our students individually. We want to make sure each individual student succeeds and accomplishes what they want to accomplish.”
Since 2016, over 1,000 candidates have graduated from the graduate programs. And while developing educators for Texas is still a priority, the department is incorporating more national (and even international) modules into their coursework.
“It doesn’t matter where you live,” Livengood said, “our world is global no matter what. It doesn’t matter if the educator is never going to leave Texas – the students they impact will. If they really want to prepare their students to be in a global society, educators need to be aware of that global view to begin with.”
“We have to have a global perspective,” Clouse added. “While we always want to first and foremost serve the needs of our community and our state, we would be remiss to say that we didn’t look outside of that, too. In the global education market, to be competitive we have to look at that side, as well.”
As the college continues to move forward, the sky’s the limit.
“I would love to see our undergrad program be a program that attracts candidates from all over the state,” Clouse said. “That when someone in Texas decides they want to be a teacher, they are bombarded with how great ASU is and that they need to go to ASU. That’s my vision – if you want to be a teacher, you go to ASU.”
“And of course,” she added, “to continue growing our graduate programs, as well as continue to empower faculty to take their programs to the next level. Those are my goals, to just keep growing and growing, and eventually reaching every crevice of the state.”