A Source of Inspiration and Leadership – National Student Teacher of the Year

McKennaDunnOn behalf of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) and the Association for Teacher Educators (ATE), I am honored to introduce McKenna Dunn, our 2016 KDP/ATE National Student Teacher/Intern of the Year.

McKenna graduated summa cum laude in 2016 from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. She majored in Spanish Language Arts and Reading, and she minored in Teacher Education. McKenna was valedictorian of the 2016 class and was a member of the Alpha Gamma Phi Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education. She currently lives in New Zealand, where she volunteers at local schools.

McKenna has been described by her professor and honors thesis advisor, Dr. Katie Peterson, as “a source of inspiration and leadership” for her classmates. Peterson continues, “McKenna also demonstrated a remarkable ability to innovate teaching practices so that she met the needs of individual learners. The passion and care that she uses to deliver curriculum makes her students feel comfortable to take risks creating environments where students are able to explore concepts and ideas in developmentally appropriate ways.”

Selected from a competitive applicant pool, the award selection committee praised McKenna’s student engagement, energy, and composure and said her project epitomized what they are looking for in an exceptional student teacher.

In sharing the news of this achievement, McKenna wrote:

“Being chosen as the national student teacher of the year is an extremely humbling honor. To know that a group of such experienced and talented educators chose me validates that I have definitely made the right decision to pursue teaching as my career path.”

KDP and ATE congratulate McKenna and wish her well as she begins her first year as a practicing educator. She will be honored at an upcoming ATE conference with a $1500 award and the opportunity to address the conference attendees.

If you or someone you know will be student teaching or interning this academic year, I encourage you to learn more about the KDP/ATE National Student Teacher/Intern of the Year Award. Applications are due by June 15, 2017.

The author of this blog, Susan Perry, is the Director of Advancement for Kappa Delta Pi.

Meet Rick Heggan, the 2015 KDP/ATE Student Teacher of the Year!

On behalf of Kappa Delta Pi and the Association for Teacher Educators, I am honored to introduce Richard (Rick) Heggan, our 2015 KDP/ATE National Student Teacher/Intern of the Year.

Heggan 2Rick is a 2015 masters of science in education graduate from Rowan University and a member of the KDP Eta Psi Chapter. He currently teaches sixth and eighth grade science at Neeta School in Medford Lakes, New Jersey.

Rick has been described by his student teacher supervisor, Carol Fioresi, as a “natural” in the classroom with a true passion for teaching. Selected from a competitive applicant pool, the selection committee praised his student engagement, energy, and composure and said his project epitomized what they are looking for in an exceptional student teacher.

In sharing the news of this achievement, Rick wrote:

“I am so humbled to receive this prestigious award. I take great pride into representing not only KDP for the next year as National Student Teacher of the Year, but also Folsom Elementary (where I gained a vast amount of teaching experience during my clinical internship 1 & 2) and Rowan University. Without my cooperating teachers and staff at Folsom, adviser and professors from Rowan, and the support of my family and friends, this would never have been accomplished.” 

KDP and ATE congratulate Rick and wish him well as he begins his first school year as a practicing educator. Rick will be honored at Kappa Delta Pi’s 50th Biennial Convocation with a $1500 award and the opportunity to speak at the closing banquet.

If you or someone you know will be student teaching or interning this academic year, I encourage you to learn more about the KDP/ATE National Student Teacher/Intern of the Year Award. Applications are due by June 15, 2016.

Kristen Jackson is Director of Advancement. She will be happy to answer your questions about KDP/ATE National Student Teacher/Intern of the Year, Classroom Teacher Grants, or Scholarships. Email her at Kristen@kdp.org

More Than an Award: Words from the 2014 NSTOY

Mandy Jayne Stanley was the 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year. She is in her first year of teaching fourth grade at Charles A. Brown Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a graduate of Samford University and member of the Zeta Theta chapter of KDP.

Being a student teacher or intern means more than just observing and performing lessons here and there; when it is done correctly and effectively, it means giving it your all. When you truly give something your all and strive for excellence in a genuine way, life will take you to unexpected places filled with unexpected treasures.

My student teaching experiences and internships were rich in life lessons, professional development, and constructive reinforcement. I participated in over ten internships in various settings ranging from urban to suburban to rural schools across Jefferson County, Alabama, in every grade level K–5, both general and special education. During these internships, I was able to lead professional developments on the topics of technology integration in the classroom, parent-teacher relationships, and other intriguing topics for teachers at various schools and conferences.

I was also a part of the Samford University Orlean Bullard Beeson Leadership Team and Dean’s Advisory Council, which allowed me to help with making various decisions for my peers, plan school-wide events for local young elementary school students, and develop professional and collaboration skills that are imperative to educators. I made it my goal to engage myself fully into every opportunity that arose, even if it meant working at the schools longer than my cooperating teachers. I did not do it for recognition. Honestly, I despise being the center of attention because I prefer to work behind the scenes. I did it because I wanted to make a difference and begin to master my craft as an educator. Practice makes perfect.

Little did I know, my Kappa Delta Pi Advisor, Dr. Amy Hoaglund, chose me to represent Samford University as a National Student Teacher of the Year candidate. Did I believe I had a shot? No. Was it worth the shot? Yes. We all know that you miss 100% of the shots you do not take! So, I submitted my application and videoed lesson (my first lesson’s video was ruined due to technical difficulties…well, actually, I never hit the record button on my iPad, but I did not let that discourage me!) and waited patiently.

Mandy Jayne StanleyWhen I found out that I had received the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society and the Association of Teacher Educator’s National Student Teacher of the Year award in 2014, I cried. I cried mainly because I was humbled. Everything, technical difficulties, late evenings, and all, was worth it. Due to receiving this humbling accolade, I have been able to be a Kappa Delta Pi spokesperson.

I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, in February to speak at the Association of Teacher Educators conference for pre-service teachers. It was there that I actually received my award. At this wonderful conference, I met seasoned educators who poured their wisdom, experience, and encouragement into my life as an individual and a teacher. This award meant more to me than the prestigious title; this award gave me the encouragement and opportunities to share the importance of education for all students. It was so encouraging to have past teachers and professors cheer me on and share their words of wisdom. They felt the spark that I now feel when I see my students succeed.

Every teacher’s favorite moment is watching their students’ faces light up when they begin to understand a new, challenging concept. It is both exhilarating and encouraging to watch students learn and grow within one’s classroom. I now have 23 children who will hold a very special place in my heart as my very first class. They have all blossomed in their own ways, and their confidence in their intellectual ability has increased. As my mother says, when you become a teacher you must teach the whole child, not just their minds, in order to make a difference. You have to teach their hands to share and give, their hearts to love and show compassion, and their feet to climb the mountains that society is going to place before them.

Becoming the 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year is more than an award or title; it will change your life by growing you, encouraging you, and giving you opportunities. Plan a lesson to video, teach it and video it, and apply! Take the shot. The deadline is June 15. Find out more:


And check out the webinar in the resources catalog titled “Promote Yourself! Steps to Making a Video That Shows You as an Effective Teacher” by Anna Quinzio-Zafran to help you with planning and shooting your video. You can even see parts of my video for my application. http://www.kdp.org/ssa/resourcescatalog.php

You could be the 2015 National Student Teacher of the Year!

A Mentor’s Legacy

Tiffany Woodall is a graduate student at Union University, completing the Master of Urban Education Program. She is a resident at Memphis Teacher Residency (memphistr.org) and teaches third grade at Sherwood Elementary School in Memphis, TN. In the pictures, everyone is wearing hats because it is TCAP spirit week, and this was “Thinking Cap” day. TCAP is the standardized test for the state of Tennessee. Tiffany is wearing the white sweater and Sarah is wearing the orange cardigan.

This blog is a reflection of her time on specific things she’s learned from her mentor over the last eight months. It will be particularly applicable to student teachers finishing their undergraduate or graduate commitments and preparing to teach on their own or to first or second year teachers who have had a mentor.

IMAG1285_1 IMAG1286_1

Two years ago I googled “teacher residencies” and stumbled upon a website for the Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR), a program with a mission to cultivate excellent urban educators, restore communities and bring justice to a long-broken education system in the city of Memphis. With a B.A. in journalism and limited teaching experience, I applied. Since May 2014, I’ve studied the cultural foundations of this beautiful city and learned how to become a teacher-leader in my classroom. By the grace of God, I and my cohort of residents have made it to our capstone course. Here I am, in love with Memphis and with urban education, about to finish my year-long residency and earn my Master of Urban Education from Union University.

I’ve spent eight months in my mentor’s third grade classroom. I’ve watched her establish culture, interact with parents, resolve conflicts, and collaborate with a team of six teachers. Soon I’ll be launched into a solo career. As I reflect on my residency and look forward to accepting my first teaching position in a few short months, I’m humbled by how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve yet to grow.

My mentor’s name is Sarah, and this is the legacy she’s left me:

  • Tell them you love them. Sometimes we’re afraid to open up to our students. We’re afraid to show them we’re human. But that’s what we are, and we come with feelings. There are myriad ways to show love, but only one way to say it: I (your teacher who sometimes wants to pull her hair out) love (feel genuine affection toward) you (my student, even on your worst days). Tell them often.
  • At yourself. With your kids. About the chaos of this profession. You will find yourself in situations at which you can choose to laugh or to cry. Choose to laugh.
  • Respect your principal. When there are 30-40 teacher-leaders in one building, there are bound to be disagreements about what’s best and for whom. But when your principal makes a decision, you respect it. You’re allowed to disagree – you have a beautiful mind that may see things differently than others in the profession. But in your disagreement, remember that your principal is operating under gross pressure from a board, who’s operating under gross pressure from the state. Remember that your principal is not perfect, and that her job probably leaves her feeling alone much of the time, on an island by herself in that school full of teacher-leaders.
  • Discipline without emotion. When you fall in love with your students, you become invested in their well-being. There will be a day when your favorite (we all have them) student misbehaves and requires your discipline. Don’t make it an emotional event. Narrate the behavior requiring the discipline, apply the consequence, and move on. Reconnect with that student as quickly as possible to remind them that you’re on the same team. Discipline is a necessary and valuable part of educating children. Leave your emotions out of it.
  • On any given weeknight, after an exhausting day of teaching equivalent fractions to a group of eight-year-olds, you might have to call three parents, complete and file RTI paperwork, submit grades for progress reports, register for an upcoming field trip, adjust lesson plans for the following day because your students don’t understand equivalent fractions, prepare for an IEP meeting, inventory your technology for your librarian, and let your dog out, eat dinner, wash a load of laundry and sleep (hopefully). There are competing demands placed on us every day. Learn to prioritize them. What needs to be done right now? What can I do during my planning period? What can I do next week? You are one person. Take care of yourself.

IMAG1290_1Those are just the highlights, of course. Spending the year with Sarah has given me incredible insight into teaching. She’s given me confidence in going forward, and she’s coached me well as I’ve stretched and grown.

As you wrap up your semester or year, reflect on what’s made you so excited to take a stab at this job on your own. Your mentor is an invaluable resource. He or she has invited you into a sacred space of learning and offered you the opportunity to fail and to grow there. That’s priceless.

As we approach Teacher Appreciation Week May 4−8, take some time to reflect: What legacy has your mentor left you? Then tell your mentor or write a thank you note to let him or her know that the time and effort and emotional energy he or she has invested in you have really helped you.

Networking: Old Style and New

Jack Kronser has recently retired as Director of Human Resources at Aurora Public Schools near Denver, Colorado. He has hired hundreds of teachers.

jack kronserAmong the many skills needed to be successful in the teaching profession is the ability to navigate networks. Networking is defined  as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically, the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”

Career opportunities in any profession are impacted by networks. Teaching is no exception. Long before official word gets out regarding job vacancies, word of potential career opportunities are out in the network, both formally and informally. For someone just starting out in teaching, or desiring to make a move (up or laterally), it is important to be networked as well. How do you create your network and become included in the networks you desire?

  • Field Experiences. Prior to and including your student teaching, you probably spent time in five or six different schools on “field experiences.” Teachers, principals, and support staff you met or observed need to be a part of your network. Keep a file of their names, positions, and contact information.
  • Student Teaching. Everyone knows how important student teaching is for launching your career. But did you make it a point to meet and talk with as many teachers, staff, and administrators as you could while you were student teaching? Did you attend trainings or meetings outside the building where you student taught—and meet more teachers and staff? Stay in touch with these people. Add all of them to your file.
  • Principal and Assistant Principal Contacts. Get to know the principal and assistant principal in the building where you student teach. Reaching out to them is the first step in your being able to demonstrate your qualifications which can lead to job opportunities or recommendations to other administrators. Add them to your file.
  • Professional Organizations. Become active in teacher organizations like KDP and the organization for whatever you teach, such as the National Council for Teachers of English. Most of these content-area associations have student memberships and can help you learn who the well-respected teachers in that area are. If you become active, you will gain skills you can add to your résumé and you will meet people from all areas of the country or state you can add to your file.
  • Seminars/Job Fairs. Teacher job fairs (at your college or in communities) are one of the very best places to personalize your job search process. Many new hires first made connection with a school district at an education job fair. Add specific names, emails, phone numbers, and district information for everyone you talked with to your file.
  • Social Networks. Take advantage of social networks like LinkedIn to let your availability and qualifications be known and to find openings. Use your Facebook page in a professional manner. Google yourself to see what an HR Director will see.

Join me for a training webinar on networking as part of the Job Search Summit on Saturday, February 28 at 5 p.m. (EST). See the rest of the line-up and find out how to get a résumé review in the Job Search Summit.

Mandy Jayne Stanley Named 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year!

Laura Stelsel is director of marketing & communications at Kappa Delta Pi.

Mandy Jayne StanleyMandy Jayne Stanley, 2014 graduate and current fourth grade teacher at Charles A. Brown Elementary School in Birmingham, Ala., is the 2014 recipient of the Kappa Delta Pi (KDP)/Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) National Student Teacher of the Year Award. Stanley is a 2012 Kappa Delta Pi initiate of Zeta Theta Chapter at Samford University.

The award recognizes one student teacher/intern annually who has demonstrated the ability to plan and develop classroom management skills and instructional strategies that support all students; establish interpersonal relationships with students, parents, faculty, and staff; and reflect powerfully on their student teaching experience. Award winners are acknowledged with a $1,200 scholarship reward.

“Birmingham is a city that has a very painful past but an exceedingly bright future, and I want all of my students to be a part of it,” Stanley said. “I knew that by striving to achieve this accolade, I could show my future, now my current, students that anything is possible with the combination of hard work, respect for those around you, and a positive mindset.”

KDP and ATE congratulate Mandy and wish her well as she begins her first school year as a practicing educator!

If I can do it, so can you: how I became KDP’s National Student Teacher of the Year

Jenna Haskins is a Long Island resident and certified elementary school teacher. She graduated from Dowling College in 2013 and was the 2013 recipient of the KDP/ATE National Student Teacher of the Year Award.

Jenna headshotI never thought I would actually be named the KDP/ATE Student Teacher of the Year, but when I found out about this opportunity, nothing could stop me from trying. No award of this importance is the work of just one person. There are many people who contributed: my professors, my cooperating teachers, my students, and my family.

I came across this award when I was in my last semester at Dowling College, completing my student teaching experience in a third-grade classroom. The combination of creating a lesson for this opportunity and wanting to leave my students with a lasting impression became my focus.

It did take a lot of work, and certainly a lot of creativity to put this video together in order to be ready to submit. I created a lesson on “Discrimination and The Power of Acceptance,” based on Jane Elliott’s 1968 “Brown Eyed, Blue Eyed Experiment.” I also used President Barack Obama’s, “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters.”

Jenna at Convo 2I am grateful that this lesson won me this prestigious award, but the reaction of my students to this lesson was the true win for me.  Making my students feel discrimination first hand was the most powerful experience I have ever undergone. Being able to create an experience for my students, to be carried with them beyond the classroom, reminds me each day why I entered the field of education.

A few pieces of advice for new teachers from a new teacher herself:

  • Never lose sight of the end result. There will be moments, days, or even weeks that seem like an endless battle when you are in the classroom. DON’T GIVE UP! Your students need you!
  • Never stop inspiring hope in your students. For some, this is there safe haven and home away from home. Make sure they’re comfortable and encourage them to be their best every day.
  • Ignite your students’ imagination in every lesson you teach. Make it fun for them, so they care and want to learn more. Making your students care is the KEY to success.
  • Never miss a chance to go far beyond teaching the curriculum. Your students should be connecting every lesson you teach to the real world. Make them understand WHY they are learning it.
  • Lastly, always remember, you chose teaching for a reason!

I entered the teaching profession because I want to impact the world, and the art of teaching allows you to do that. Education, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful tools in society. Should there ever be a day you question what you do, just take a second and look in the eyes of your students and you will know you are right where you are supposed to be, making a difference. You have the ability to shape our future. Thank you for being a part of a profession that makes a world of difference!

Jenna at ConvoAnd remember, you’ll miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. So, my advice is to take the shot and apply for KDP/ATE National Student Teacher of the Year for 2014. This could be your year!

To view my lesson on “Discrimination and The Power of Acceptance,” visit my online portfolio