The Tools Teachers Need

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Stout School of Educations offers future teachers hands-on experiences.

The Stout School of Education prepares alumni to educate children from a global perspective.

When they arrived in Kuwait in late April, they rode a camel. They also saw one of their own alumni leading an international classroom. But the big deal?

Drs. Shirley Disseler, Amy Holcombe and Heidi Summey found potential.

Inside the American United School of Kuwait, the three HPU education professors visited classrooms, talked to students and teachers and saw firsthand how HPU could help the K-12 school with technology, leadership and curriculum.

They also saw how the school could be a valuable pipeline for HPU students. Education majors could do their student teaching in Kuwait, and that opportunity would prepare them to be effective teachers in their own classroom someday.

And that classroom might even be in Kuwait.

That is the future of education, these three professors say. It’s the need for America’s next generation of teachers to expand their view of the world and challenge their own assumptions about education to prepare children for a global economy.

That is what HPU’s Stout School of Education is all about.

The trip to Kuwait is one example. Another exists just steps from the education building.



HPU’s Art of the Possible

It was late April when Dr. Anne Leak, an assistant professor of education, opened the back door of the Stout School of Education. She walked onto an expanse of grass and pointed out what looked like the boundaries of a big map.

This fall, those lines became the boundaries of four big gardens.

“This will be important space,’’ Leak says.

The gardens will grow vegetables that help HPU’s education majors learn fun ways to teach math and science. But that’s not all.

A few steps away is a new maker space where education majors use all kinds of tools to create lesson plans that stoke curiosity through experiments involving STEM, the educational acronym of science, technology, engineering and math.

In doing so, they learn how to help their future students overcome their fear of certain concepts. When understanding comes, Leak says, students will become more comfortable with biology, chemistry or physics.

That will happen with HPU’s future teachers, too.

“I want our students to see what is possible,” she says.

They do.


Changing Children’s Lives

Meet Henley Guffey.

In May, she received her master’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in STEM and secured a teaching position at Wolf Meadow Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina. The year before, she received her undergraduate degree in elementary education. She stayed at HPU because of the one-year master’s program and her discovery of a “whole new world.”

She never really thought about teaching science or math. But in her sophomore year, Guffey took a class with Disseler and saw how Legos can help students learn in a different way. She saw it first-hand while student teaching her senior year.

That’s how she met a third-grader named Tyreese.

Tyreese had a speech impediment, and he didn’t like speaking in class. But Lego blocks helped him with math, science, social studies and reading, and gave him confidence he never thought he had.

Tyreese changed. His shoulders were no longer hunched with his eyes cast downward. His shoulders were back, his eyes were alert, and he raised his hand frequently and asked, “Ms. Guffey, can I share?”  

“I feel like Wonder Woman,” says Guffey about her ability to spark change in the classroom. “I have such a massive tool belt going into any school thanks to HPU.”


The Power of Potential

HPU’s partnership in Kuwait is a three-year contract, providing at least eight HPU education majors the opportunity to teach for a semester.

Meanwhile, school administrators from Kuwait are planning to visit HPU to talk about opportunities. 

Those opportunities, the three education professors say, are endless. And those opportunities came about because an educator in Kuwait read a textbook Disseler wrote.

HPU’s partnership could help recruit new students from Kuwait, create other partnerships with schools in other countries, build on HPU’s international reputation and give the university’s own students a reliable channel to go abroad and teach.

Katie McCabe, ’14, did just that.

She is a first-grade teacher at the American United School of Kuwait, and like Guffey, she is one of Disseler’s former students.

Disseler, Holcombe and Summey caught up with McCabe on their visit. Ask Holcombe and Summey about the reunion, and they talk about potential.

Ask Disseler about the reunion, and she tears up.

“It’s an emotional thing for me,” she says. “Our HPU students are going out there trying to change the world, and we at HPU had a small part in that.”


International Teacher’s Perspective: Katie McCabe

In 2014, after graduating from HPU with a degree in elementary education, Katie McCabe knew what to do — stay an extra year to get a master’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Little did she know that her two degrees would become her passport.

McCabe is now far from her home in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She lives in Kuwait, travels and teaches first-graders from seven different countries at the American United School of Kuwait.

Children everywhere need the same thing — nurturing and guidance.

McCabe learned that first at HPU, a place that gave her the skills, confidence and support to go after a dream: Teach on the other side of the world.

Her professors helped make that happen.

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