School of Education Graduate Named 2023 Texas Student Teacher of the Year

Spring 2024

Debbie Chou, a May 2023 Baylor graduate with a BSEd from the School of Education (SOE) and certification in elementary education, received the Clinical Teacher of the Year award for the state of Texas, honored for her work while a senior at Baylor. Chou will graduate from Baylor again in August with a master’s degree, after which she intends to teach in Texas.

The award honors senior-level teacher-education students for excellence in classroom teaching during the student-teaching experience. It is given by the Texas Directors of Field Experience, the organization of faculty members within university teacher-education programs who supervise field experiences, and was presented during the fall’s statewide meeting of the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education.

Chou was a student teacher for first graders at Hillcrest Professional Development School in Waco ISD, the School of Education’s first Professional Development School campus. She is currently pursuing her MSEd in Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education and is assistant teaching at Baylor's pre-school, the Piper Center.

“It was surreal,” Chou said about her reaction to receiving this award. “I am deeply honored, and I still can’t believe it.”

Chou expressed gratitude to both her mentor teacher, Tamara Holey, and her School of Education intern supervisor, Darlene Bolfing. Chou said they helped her develop the skills and tools for effective teaching.

“Debbie took initiative and always went above and beyond what was required,” Holey said. “She was so creative and eager to share and implement her ideas into her lesson plans!”

Bolfing said Chou is “an excellent young educator who brings warmth and enthusiasm into the classroom, creating a very productive environment for her first-grade students.”  She described Chou as a confident, conscientious, and empathetic person and teacher.

Chou came to Baylor knowing that the teacher-preparation program provides extensive in-class experience, something she found vital to preparing for her own career path. She comes from a family of educators, including her mother, who is a high school biology teacher.

“Teaching became my passion and professional aspiration when I discovered that it combined two of my driving factors — to love others and to impact the next generation,” Chou said.

Chou credited Baylor School of Education for giving her all the right tools for success, getting plenty of time to interact with students during her internship year and before. As a student-teaching intern, Chou had the opportunity to watch her students progress and grow throughout a full academic year and feels that multiple experiences teaching in local schools, along with Baylor SOE’s intensive coursework and supportive faculty, have put her on the path to be the best teacher she can be.

Chou is the fifth Baylor intern to receive this prestigious statewide teaching award in the last seven years it has been presented. In addition, a Baylor intern was named National Student Teacher of the Year in both 2019 and 2022.


Texas Student Teacher of the Year Award:

  • Debbie Chou, BSEd ’23

  • Alexandra Ronnenberg, BSEd ’21

  • Lauren Hornbeak, BSEd ’19

  • Rachel Vaughn, BSEd ’17

  • Stephanie Wright, BSEd ’16, MSEd ’17

National Student Teacher of the Year Award:

  • Emily Blackwell, BSEd ’22

  • Lauren Hornbeak, BSEd ’19

Debbie Chou teaching at Hillcrest PDS
Debbie Chou teaching her class at Hillcrest Professional Development School, where she was a student teacher.