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‘What I Am Supposed To Do’: Emily Blackwell

With a passion for learning and a yearning for teaching, Emily Blackwell (’22), won the 2022 National Student Teacher of the Year award for her work within the classroom as a senior intern. She now works as a first-grade teacher at Brentfield Elementary in Richardson ISD.


“In about March, I got an email from Baylor’s School of Education saying that I was one of the seniors chosen to submit an application for the Texas Student Teacher of the Year,” Blackwell said. “Baylor put together a panel and went through all the applications and decided who would be submitted. I got an email back after completing that whole process that they wanted to submit mine to the national competition.”


The award itself is given by the international honor society in education, Kappa Delta Pi, and the Association of Teacher Educators, to one student teacher annually who demonstrates strong planning, developing, interpersonal and overall leadership capabilities. The student who receives the award is then given a $2,000 award and an invitation to speak at their annual conference.


“At first, I was a little upset when they told me they were submitting my name for the national award because I thought that Texas was pretty manageable and thought a had a good shot to get the award, so when I heard they were submitting me for the national not the state, I thought there was no way,” Blackwell said.


Blackwell submitted a few essays, a metaphor about teaching, a thirty-minute video of her teaching in her classroom followed by a reflection essay and general information such as GPA and transcripts for the application.


She is the second student to receive the national award for the Baylor School of Education in four years, with Lauren Hornbeak, B.S.Ed.’19, winning in 2019 as a secondary life science education major.


While at Baylor, Blackwell student-taught at Hewitt Elementary in Midway ISD under the mentorship of fourth-grade science teacher Valerie Taylor and Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, ED.D, clinical associate professor and elementary program coordinator.


“Dr. Cassidy was amazing. I had her my fall of freshman year for Intro to Teaching, both semesters of junior year for Literacy classes and then she was my intern supervisor senior year,” Blackwell said. “I got to learn so much from her and grow and she got to know me and what my strengths were and what I should work on. It was really cool getting to have her all four years.”


Purdum-Cassidy explained that the award Blackwell received is highly competitive and brings her honor and pride that she was able to mentor and know her through her four years of undergrad.


“She has a natural instinct for teaching. She is incredibly knowledgeable in content and pedagogy,” Blackwell said. “I am a literacy specialist so in TED 4303 I had the opportunity to work with her, and our candidates had the ability to build curriculum units and she was outstanding at that. Her units had depth and she utilized all kinds of primary resources.”


During their senior year, Baylor education students teach in local classrooms each day to gain clinical teaching experience. Students would teach Monday-Thursday and then gather for in person Baylor courses on Fridays. This allows graduates to leave with not only their diploma but with real-life experience and knowledge to succeed as first-year teachers.


“Baylor prepared me amazingly well,” Blackwell said. “Coming into teaching at a full-time, I knew what to expect: I knew the workload, I knew what it felt like to be with a bunch of people with a lot of energy all day. I didn’t come in feeling overwhelmed; I was able to come in with a sense of peace that I could take care of these 24 first graders well.”


“She is good not only in front of students, but also has a good, solid knowledge of pedagogy and how to scaffold learning in the classroom,” Purdum-Cassidy said. “She is a consummate professional. She builds relationships with students and has everything you’d want in a teacher.”


Blackwell will travel to Jacksonville, Florida in March to speak at the annual KDP convention and to accept the award officially. She plans to remain in teaching for a long time, following the footsteps of her mother and both grandmothers who are teachers and school-based professionals.


“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I used to line up my dolls and teach to them, and I always wrote on my goal that I wanted to be a teacher when I grow up,” Blackwell said. “This is what I am supposed to do.”

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