National Student Teacher of the Year

January 9, 2023
Emily Blackwell

Emily Blackwell, BSEd ’22, an elementary education graduate now teaching first grade at Brentfield Elementary in Richardson ISD, is the 2022 National Student Teacher of the Year. The award is given to one student teacher annually by Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, and the national Association of Teacher Educators.

“I am so thankful to have attended Baylor University,” Blackwell said. “Baylor faculty and my mentor teacher did a wonderful job of encouraging me and pushing me to be my best. I went into my first year of teaching feeling so confident in my teaching abilities. I am beyond thankful for Baylor's education program and all those who helped mold me into the teacher I am today.”

Award winners are acknowledged with a scholarship award and a speaking engagement at the Association of Teacher Educators annual meeting. As part of the application process, Blackwell submitted lesson plans, essays, and other materials, including a video of a fourth-grade science lesson she taught at Hewitt Elementary in Midway ISD, where she taught during her senior year at Baylor. Valerie Taylor served as her mentor teacher, and Dr. Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, Baylor clinical associate professor and elementary education program coordinator, was her intern supervisor.

Purdum-Cassidy said, “Emily is a dedicated, intelligent young professional who positively impacts everyone she meets.” Purdum-Cassidy described her as “knowledgeable in content, pedagogy, and assessment” as a professional and dedicated to teaching for understanding. She said Blackwell has wonderful rapport with students and colleagues and that she is a dedicated and conscientious student.

Blackwell said she was so busy during her senior year at Baylor — as a student teacher, performer with the Baylor Dance Company, officer in sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, sweetheart of Pi Kappa Phi, and member of Alpha Lambda Delta honor society — that a full-time job seems reasonably manageable to her now. In fact, she’s taken on an additional role — as a professional dancer for the Dallas Sidekicks arena soccer team.

Baylor's curriculum and clinical experiences also prepared her well for leading her own classroom. “Beginning field experiences in our freshman year and then building up to full-time student teaching was so valuable,” she said.
During their senior year, Baylor education majors teach in local classrooms for more than 100 days, and these students also teach in local classrooms four mornings a week during their junior year. As a junior, Blackwell spent one semester at Waco ISD’s Hillcrest PDS in the second-grade classroom of Jamie Ochoa and one semester at Midway ISD’s Spring Valley PDS in the first-grade classroom of Stephanie Bealka.

As a Baylor senior, Blackwell received the Lorena B. Stretch Award for Outstanding Student in Elementary Education. The award is named for Dr. Lorena Stretch, who was dean of the SOE from 1935 - 1957 and the school’s longest-serving dean.
Blackwell said she plans a long teaching career for herself. “I love teaching,” she said. “I almost always leave the classroom fulfilled and eager to return the next day. My students are so fun, and it’s so amazing to get to watch them learn and grow.”

This is Baylor’s second National Student Teacher of the Year in four years, with Lauren Hornbeak, BSEd ’19, a secondary life science education major, receiving the award in 2019.