This story is featured in the Spring 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Stout School of Education provides future educators with hands-on learning experiences.
Students and graduates see HPU’s Stout School of Education as the place where they know moments and mentors will change their lives forever.
Graduates go to Capitol Hill and convince a roomful of education experts and legislative aides to listen.
Meanwhile, local educators become students once again.
That’s just the beginning.
‘What Our Students Need’
Sam Entwistle remembers the moment.
It was January 2018 when she drove three of her classmates to Washington, D.C. They were all first-year teachers, all HPU graduates obtaining their master’s degree in educational leadership.
They joined their professor, Dr. Allison Blosser. Entwistle and her friends had no idea what they would get from a three-day conference sponsored by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
That changed in a conference room on Capitol Hill.
They sat behind legislative aides, school superintendents and principals from North Carolina and listened to a conversation about how the country’s education policies affect teachers. Soon, their conversation stopped.
They turned to the four first-year teachers behind them and asked Entwistle and her three classmates — Claudia Beard, Lucy Hill and Alana Pulling — what it was like to be a teacher in the 21st century.
Entwistle and her friends told the room what worked, what didn’t and what needed to be changed for them to stay in a profession that loses one out of every two teachers within the first five years of teaching.
Afterward, all four left arm in arm. Entwistle calls it her “Olivia Pope moment,” a reference to the TV show, “Scandal,” and its strong lead female character.
The four from HPU made things happen.
“It’s not me; it’s me making the change that can affect others,” says Entwistle, a 2017 HPU graduate from Tewksbury, New Jersey, now teaching kindergarten at a North Carolina charter school. “I’m just a little red-headed teacher from North Carolina, but it’s the idea that I’m representing millions of teachers in the United States.”
“I can say, ‘You need to understand what we see.’ I’m a little window into that.”
Dr. Blosser hears that and smiles.
“That was the highlight of my teaching career,” she says of the conference. “They understood that they have a voice. This is what our students need.”
Talk to a few graduates or a few students. They’re a lot like Entwistle.
Take Katie Etheridge, a 2013 HPU graduate from Moorestown, New Jersey. She received from HPU a master’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in STEM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.
She now lives in Denver and serves as the interim dean of students at the Denver School of Science and Technology. When she was a sixth-grade science teacher there, she used hands-on activities often. She learned that from Dr. Shirley Disseler, one of HPU’s two STEM coordinators.
Etheridge sees the impact firsthand in her classroom, especially when one of her students jumps from his chair, yelling, “I know the answer!”
Then there’s Keisha Dawalt. She’s 34, a married mother of two and an instructor facilitator at a North Carolina elementary school. Last summer, she enrolled in the HPU Leadership Academy. In December, she’ll graduate with a master’s degree in educational leadership and a principal’s license.
“What did you do in class today?” Addison, Dawalt’s first-grade daughter, has asked.
Dawalt could tell her daughter much. That includes spending a semester as an assistant principal in her home district 30 minutes south of HPU.
“The hands-on, real-life learning is what is so valuable,” she says. “In some programs, it’s a lot of textbook, but at High Point, I feel like we’re asked to put these things into practice.”
Dr. Barbara Zwadyk, the program’s coordinator, knows the reasoning behind that.
“We have to change the way we educate children,” she says, “and that starts with the adults.”
The Wisdom of Transformative Moments
When Morgan White and Madison Parks arrived at HPU, they became good friends. It’s easy to understand why.
They’re both freshmen, Presidential Scholars and Education Fellows. They’re from the small-town South, raised in the church, and they like Hallmark movies.
Most of all, they want to teach.
White is from Yadkinville, North Carolina. She wants to teach high school math. Parks is from Galax, Virginia. She wants to teach elementary school students to love reading.
They see the program as an educational adventure. They’re ready.
“We’re making the path our own,” White says.
The Stout School of Education does help students blaze their own path. Ask them about that, and they’ll talk about transformative moments. They do change.
“Whenever someone asks me about High Point University,” she says, “I always say, ‘HPU sets you up for endless success.’”