Year Awarded: 2011
College of Education
School of Teaching, Learning and Leadership
I began my career in education because of my grandmother‘s influence, who taught for fifty-six years in the public schools. Teaching—sparking an interest in learning and imparting new understandings and dispositions to students—is truly a gift. Through the years, teaching has not lost its unique distinction to me. I still feel energy and enthusiasm each time I walk into a classroom.
My philosophy on teaching future teachers is accentuated by the realization of the profound effect teachers have on their students. Further, my teaching has been deeply affected by the increasingly diverse nature of children in our schools today, the increase in childhood poverty, the effect both diversity and poverty have on the teaching of reading and reading achievement of our children, and the belief that future teachers need to be involved in their own learning outside the walls of the university.
My efforts to respond to the multicultural, multiracial, and multiethnic student backgrounds present in today‘s classrooms and the challenges facing future teachers resulted in a complete redesign of my teaching and my traditional university-based coursework. I now teach my future teachers to teach reading both at the undergraduate and graduate level at a local community center in the Parramore Neighborhood of downtown Orlando, the poorest neighborhood in Orange County, Florida. The community center, not the university classroom, serves as a “pedagogical laboratory” where my future teachers learn to teach reading by interacting with children, parents, their peers, community agencies, and university personnel. It is through this unique experience that my UCF students learn to be knowledgeable in the teaching of reading and to be culturally sensitive, reflective reading teachers, capable of further growth and development.
Teaching and helping to develop future teachers for our public schools is a professional privilege. I firmly believe teaching is the most powerful means in our society to increase individual student opportunity. To have the privilege of being a part of this mission is more than any individual could hope for in their lifetime.