Tag Archives: College of Education

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Recognizes TSU Student as One of Nashville’s Top 30 under 30 Recipients

Kelli Peterson
Kelli Peterson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Since 2009, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has recognized influential members of the local community under the age of 30. In mid-November, the Middle Tennessee Chapter released a list of 30 individuals they believe have made significant impacts in the community through leadership and volunteer efforts.

Among that list is a doctoral student from Tennessee State University who has been selected as one of Nashville’s best professional and philanthropic community members for 2015.

Kelli Peterson, who is pursuing her Doctorate of Education degree in Teaching and Learning, Focus in Curriculum Planning, will be honored early next year as one of the most “prominent, influential and successful young professionals in the community.”

“I am truly blessed and honored to be named as one of Nashville’s Top 30 under 30 by such a wonderful organization,” said Peterson, who has served for the past two years as the assistant principal at East End Preparatory School. “I was surprised when I found out because I had worked extremely hard on a compelling essay to express my qualifications and passion for being a servant to Nashville through education. I knew the competition would be extremely competitive.”

2015 class of Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30
2015 class of Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30

According to Peterson, the recognition is important to her for two reasons. First, along with the other 29 professionals, Peterson will be given a chance to make an even bigger impact in the lives of others. As a member of Nashville’s Top 30 under 30, she will be campaigning to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Second, and most importantly, this is an opportunity to be a positive role model for her students.

“It is my goal to shed light on this disease to the African-American community, as well as children so that in tandem we may fight together,” said Peterson. “Although Cystic Fibrosis occurs less in African-Americans, it is important that we come together as Americans to help support this movement.”

According to Peterson, each recipient of the Top 30 Under 30 has to raise a minimum of $2,500 through ticket sales for the April 10 gala, donations and sponsorships. One way, she said, is to get her students involved.

“I plan to get my students involved as the leaders of the fundraising effort to show the power of children, and ask that the community show children ‘if they lead, we will follow,’ by donating as well,” she added.

Along raising funds for the organization, Peterson said that being named to the Top 30 Under 30 list was also important because it is an opportunity for her to show her students that anything is possible and nothing is out of reach. When she left Flint, Michigan, at age 17, she vowed that every accomplishment she made in life would not be for self-notoriety, but to show “all the little brown girls and boys sitting in a classroom they could move past the glass ceiling.”

“I walk the hallways at school everyday so that my ‘little brown children’ can see a brown woman as their assistant principal and thus, dream beyond it,” Peterson said. “I am in the second year of my doctoral degree, not for my personal gain, but so that my students can call someone that looks like them ‘doctor.”

Peterson, through her nomination to the Top 30 list, wants to show her students that someone that looks like them and that serves them on a daily basis, can be recognized not for the amount of money they are able to give, but the service they provide to the community. 

“I want to be able to prepare all my students for a brighter future,” added Peterson. “I want my students to know that anything is obtainable.”

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Middle Tennessee will hold its 7th annual “Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30” event April 10, 2015 at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville. Visit the Top 30 Under 30 website for more information or to donate.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was founded in 1955 with the mission of supporting research and education over the genetic disease.  Cystic fibrosis attacks the lungs and digestive system and affects about 30,000 children and adults in the United States.

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Professor Selected for Accreditation Council Appeals Committee

Dr. Carole de Casal
Dr. Carole de Casal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Council for the Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP) has selected a professor from Tennessee State University to serve on one of the most prestigious slots for its accreditation committee.

Dr. Carole de Casal, professor of Educational Leadership and former chair of the Department of Educational Leadership, has been selected as a member of the Executive Appeals Committee. She was one of only 10 in the nation chosen to perform in this role for the new organization. The committee will be responsible for reconsideration and decision when a university does not pass their accreditation and chooses to appeal.

CAEP takes the place of the long-standing National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and advances educator preparation through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality, and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning.

de Casal has more than 25 years of experience with accreditation, and more than 20 years working as both a team leader and team member for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the southern states. She has also worked as a State Board of Examiner for the NCATE, and more than 10 years working as a state program approver for sponsored programs administrations.

She has also served a Research I Carnegie University as the director of Accreditation for three campuses and eight colleges, serving in this capacity when Hurricane Katrina destroyed one of the campuses under state and national review for its first accreditation in 10 years. Both campuses subsequently passed their accreditations. In fact, the review was videotaped and distributed as the model for a way in which an NCATE and state review should be conducted.

Additionally, de Casal has led four other institution departments and colleges through accreditations, three of which were recognized as national models for the way in which accreditation reviews should be conducted.

The appointment comes on the heels of another selection for de Casal. She was recently selected to become a member of International Women’s Leadership Association. Few women professionals are invited for membership, and those who qualify have to make significant national and international contributions to their chosen career arena, the national and international community, and the national and international family unit.

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Remains Key Pipeline to Recruit Metro, Area Teachers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Jimmy Arredondo moved to South Korea more than 10 years ago to teach English, the Tennessee State University graduate came away from the experience with a renewed drive and passion to become a certified teacher.

“I finally discovered what I was meant to do,” said Arredondo, who graduated in May with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. “When I first received my bachelor’s degree in English and history, I had no desire at all to teach. But when I was in South Korea, I felt like this is what I was destined to do and it was something I actually enjoyed.”

Metro-Nashville SchoolsArredondo recently landed a position with Antioch Middle School teaching social studies, and is one of many that have landed jobs with the Metropolitan Nashville Public School System ready to teach thanks to the education and training he received at TSU.

Having no official teacher training, Arredondo decided to attend TSU because of the reputation the University for producing and placing teachers in their chosen career field.

“I had no prior classroom teaching and TSU gave me the skills I needed to be successful,” added Arredondo. “I now feel comfortable when I walk into the classroom on day one and start my teaching career knowing a I have a big toolbox of methods and classroom management skills to draw on.”

For the past two years, Tennessee State University has been one of the top teacher preparation programs in the state, providing exceptionally qualified candidates for teaching positions not only across the state and the southern region, but right here in the University’s backyard with MNPS.

“We have one of the top education programs in the country, and our students have the skills and abilities to teach anywhere across the country due to the teacher preparation they receive here at Tennessee State University,” said Dr. Kimberly King-Jupiter, dean of the College of Education. “The students that choose to remain in the Nashville area have better opportunities with Metropolitan Public School System because of the wonderful partnerships and programs that have been created over the years along with a steady pipeline into the school system.”

TSU has long been a popular spot to recruit top educators into the Nashville school system. During the 2013-2014 school year, of the 636 new hires, 54 were from TSU, second only to MTSU with 56. Vanderbilt University followed in the third spot with 44, along with Lipscomb and Trevecca Nazarene Universities, which tied for the fourth spot with 40 among area institutions pipelining students directly into Metro.

In 2012, 52 of the 553 new hires were from TSU, placing the University in the number one spot, with MTSU coming in a close second with 50 hires. Lipscomb, Trevecca and Vanderbilt came in at third, fourth and fifth respectively.

“We have a great working relationship with Metro, with nearly nine percent of the total new hires with the Metro school system coming from TSU over the past two years,” said Dr. Heraldo Richards, associate dean of the College of Education. “We have a direct pipeline with our students who are highly recruited. In fact, some of our students have been offered positions prior to finishing the program.”

According to Richards, one of the most successful programs is the Ready2Teach training students receive in their senior year. A clinically rich undergraduate teacher residency preparation program, Ready2Teach emphasizes problem-based learning, co-teaching, and performance-based assessment.

Richards explained that Ready2Teach, an initiative unique to the Tennessee Board of Regents schools of which TSU is a part, puts more focus on future teachers learning in-depth content in the subject they plan to teach, applying problem-based learning, and completing a year-long residency with mentor teachers in a P-12 classroom.

“This gives our students the opportunity to stay in the same class the entire year and receive valuable training with the same students and mentor teacher,” added Richards. “It’s very different from past training. When students are placed in the residency program, they are ready and certified to teach after just four years. Our students feel that they are extremely prepared to walk into a classroom and teach immediately.”

Principals in the Metro school system agree, and have been so impressed with the quality of teachers that some have offered positions to students following completion of the program.

Michael Ross, principal at the Caldwell Enhanced Option School in east Nashville said he offered positions to two of the five students that went through the residency program during the 2012-2013 school year.

“The students from TSU that have come through the program at Caldwell have all had a full understanding on how to work with students of diverse backgrounds and learning abilities,” Ross said. “Each student, while going through the residency program, had great insight on how to work with students and meet them where they are in their education level. Both of the students I hired from TSU have done a fantastic job this year and I have been very proud of what they have accomplished. I attribute it all to the training they received at Tennessee State.”

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU’s Oldest Spring Graduate Set to Receive Degree at Age 67

James Bowen
James Bowen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – James Bowen is proving that college isn’t just for students age 18 to 22. Bowen is part of a growing population of older students returning to college, and will be the oldest student at Tennessee State University to receive his degree at the upcoming 2014 Spring Commencement at age 67.

“This is all part of me reinventing myself,” said Bowen, who will graduate with a master’s degree in Educational Technology. “I would like, in the long run, to encourage people to keep on learning. Our education is never complete.”

Bowen first stepped onto the TSU campus in the mid 1960s and played defensive back on the football team under Coach “Big John” Merritt while pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology. He went on to graduate in 1968.

“Things were a lot different back then,” added Bowen. “We were a wild bunch back then and not as dedicated to our studies as students today. Heck, we even had a curfew.”

Bowen left TSU after graduation and pursued different career opportunities, including teaching, but ultimately ended up in sales, where he became one of the top 50 car salesmen in the country. “I was enjoying life and making lots of money while raising a family but there was something missing,” he added. “At age 65, I decided I needed to go back to school to start on my next business venture.”

Bowen is part of a growing trend of older students returning to college and wants to help those returning “navigate the waters” of the admission process and how to approach “younger America.”

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the most significant shift of student growth is probably the massive increase in the adult-student population in higher education in the past 20 years. Thirty-eight percent of those enrolled in higher education are over the age of 25 and one-fourth are over the age of 40. The share of all students who are over age 40 is projected to increase another 23 percent by 2019. It is that growing population Bowen wants to target.

“I want to help others make that leap and provide them some insight on the application process and dealing with students more that half their age,” Bowen added.

Life on campus, added Bowen, as well as students have changed in the 46 years since he left the University. “I want to serve as an inspiration to students age 65 or older who want to return but don’t know where to start.”

Students are more disciplined today, said Bowen, but the biggest challenge he, and perhaps those returning have to deal with, is the advancement of technology. He has been required to learn everything from computers to mobile devices and social media.

“It’s was tough at first,” said Bowen. “I started the process early so I could prepare myself for what would be thrown my way. I started with an email address, which I never had, bought a computer and started teaching myself the basics. I then slowly learned about the different social media platforms and how they all connected.”

Now that he is ready to graduate, Bowen is not only ready to share what he learned with others, but remain on campus with other students and continue learning. A life-long learner, he eventually wants to teach.

“Since being here at Tennessee State University, I’ve acquired this hunger and thirst for education,” Bowen said. “I would love to continue my studies and go into agricultural education and go into teaching. It’s a passion.”

At graduation on May 10, family members from around Nashville will file into Hale Stadium and turn out to support Bowen. They include his children, ex-wife, grandchildren and various other family members.

“I want to show my family members and anyone else that if you dream it, you can do it,” said Bowen. “I am proud to be an inspiration to others, whether they’re in their 30s, 40s, or even their 90s, and let them know that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.”

 

 

READ more student success stories including:

Johnathan Fitzgerald
Annette Scruggs
Karen Munoz

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Hosts Common Core State Standards Math Training March 28

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Teachers from across the state will have the opportunity to learn the latest teaching techniques and instruction in a manner consistent with Common Core State Standards while improving students’ performance levels in mathematics during Tennessee State University’s spring training conference Friday, March 28.

The conference takes place at the Avon Williams Campus auditorium from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., with discussions focusing on the standards’ deployment, teacher preparation, curriculum development and impact on higher education in Tennessee.

Hosted by the College of Education, the training, entitled Transforming Urban Schools: Implementing Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Instruction, will provide professional-development opportunities for pre-service and in-service teachers, as well as administrators interested in reforming schools for the success of all pre-k through 12th grade students.

“’Transforming Urban Schools’ is a series of workshops designed to engage educators in practical professional development experiences with one principle goal: to improve what is done in schools,” said Dr. Kimberly King-Jupiter, dean of the College of Education. “That inevitably leads to better learning outcomes for the most important part of the equation in education – our kids.”

Dr. Linda C. Tillman
Dr. Linda C. Tillman

Building on the Common Core State Standards Symposium held last year, the professional development training includes a keynote address on Innovation in Urban Schools by Dr. Linda C. Tillman, professor emerita from the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Marilyn Strutchens
Dr. Marilyn Strutchens

An overview of the Common Core State Standards will also take place with Dr. Marilyn Strutchens, Mildred Cheshire Fraley Distinguished professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Auburn University. She will lead participants in a hands-on workshop on establishing mathematics learning communities in their schools.

Other topics to be discussed during the conference include an overview of the Common Core State Standards, understanding the standards of practical mathematical practice, required shifts in teaching, and addressing stakeholder concerns.

The Common Core State Standards initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce.

Tennessee students will begin testing under the new standards in spring 2015.

The conference is free and open to pre-service and in-service teachers, as well as administrators. Attendees will receive resources and instructional strategies that they can take back to their schools and implement.

To register or for more information, contact Tenisha Odom, field experience coordinator with the College of Education, at 615.963.4885 or todom2@tnstate.edu.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Expert Helps Promote Importance of Mobile Learning in Higher Education at UN International Conferences

Dr. Nicole Kendall
Dr. Nicole Kendall

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University expert on higher education online training and consulting just returned from Europe where she participated in two mobile-learning conferences sponsored by the United Nations.

Dr. Nicole M. Kendall, an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, took part in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Mobile Learning Week in Paris Feb. 16-21, where participants explored how mobile technologies can meet the needs of educators and help them improve their effectiveness.

Under the theme, “Empowering teachers with technology,” the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week, called MLW 2014, considered the benefits and challenges associated with mobile learning, such as ensuring equity of device, online safety, limited mobile –friendly content, and the need for teacher training.

Kendall said the conferences provided a positive spotlight on the global desire to implement what she called m-learning initiatives.

“The U.S. is at an advantage (in m-learning) in that its application of mobile learning is beyond cellular devices and includes tablets, gadgets, and intricate standards to support teaching and curriculum development,” she said. “It (the conference) further positions higher education institutions to model m-learning measures that would attract international and millennial students.”

Following her weeklong stay in Paris, Kendall went onto to Madrid, Spain from Feb. 28 – March 2, for UNESCO’s Mobile Learning 2014 International Conference, where she joined other participants in discussions on how to develop mobile learning research that illustrates developments in the field.

Kendall, a former online mentor and instructor for the Tennessee Board of Regents Online Degree Program, described the Madrid conference as “research-centered on the impact of mobile learning” on teaching and learning.

“It is refreshing to see aspects of legal, culturally social and, instructional commonalities that countries are facing with the use of mobile learning,” Kendall said, adding, “It supports the need for a strategic plan at all levels so that student retention and instructional effectiveness is not compromised.”

Dr. Kendall, who returned home recently, also serves as a senior member of the National Education Association’s Content Quality and Review Board, which recommends online professional development courses to the NEA Academy.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Hosts Common Core Spring Training March 7

50022NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The College of Education at Tennessee State University will host the Common Core Spring Training for Higher Education faculty Friday, March 7 at the Avon Williams campus.

The training takes place from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the AWC auditorium, rooms 306, 307, 308 and 309.

Sponsored by the Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation, the training will provide two levels of Common Core Training in one day. This is the fifth training session taking place this year at partnering universities across the state. Other institutions taking part in the training have included Lipscomb, East Tennessee State and Union Universities; and Cleveland State Community College.

Partnering again with the National Math and Science Initiative, this year’s training will dig deeper into Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and writing, as well as cover Common Core in all content areas.  Participants will have the opportunity to discuss newly released resources and updated implementation timelines.

The upcoming training sessions will be delivered in two tiers in the morning session.  First-year participants will work through the Common Core standards in Math and ELA and explore Literacy in all content areas.  Last year’s participants will have the opportunity to delve deeper into Common Core with Math and ELA Performance-Level Descriptors and implementation in content areas.  The joint afternoon session will focus on the most recent updates on PARCC, with topics such as technology, writing and accommodations.

For more information, contact Jennifer Sparks in the College of Education at 615.963.5109 or jsparks1@tnstate.edu.

 

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Young Kurdish Immigrant Beats Near Insurmountable Odds to Earn University Education, American Dream

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Ghariba Babiry is a classic American dream story.

Coming to the United States 15 years ago without understanding a word of English, no prior schooling, and soon to receive a college degree,  …with a potential teaching job in tow, that’s quite an accomplishment.

“It’s all still a dream,” she said.

For the young Kurd, it all started at about age 14 when she, her father, mother and three younger siblings had to flee the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein. They left their Kurdish homeland in northern Iraq for a new life in the U.S.

They landed in Nashville, Tenn.- a totally different culture and way of doing things.

“This was all a new experience and yet my siblings and I were required to cope and succeed amid some serious challenges,” Babiry said.

But challenge, for Babiry, was an understatement.  It was an awakening.

“For my first time ever in a classroom, I was thrust into the eighth grade at Cameron Middle School, with no understanding of English and totally dumfounded,” she said. “I had a separate interpreter with me in class about three hours a week to guide me through the instructions while the teacher was teaching. Worse yet, at 14 years of age, I was the oldest in the class but understood the least. This was very difficult. I tried to give up several times.”

Thanks to Babiry’s very persistent parents, she hung in there through the daily struggle of trying to complete class assignments – almost always the last to finish.

“My mother was constantly on me not to give up. ‘Never give up; don’t be illiterate like me; I can’t even write my own name,’ she would say,” Babiry added.“For my father, all he wanted me to think about was school. ‘I’ll provide you with everything I can after all I came to America for you, so that I can give to you what I did not have the chance to do in Kurdistan,’ he would say.”

The persistence, struggle and what seemed to Babiry then as harassment, paid off through developmental courses -in middle school, high school, community college. …and now Tennessee State University.

On May 11, she will be among more than 1,000 graduates who will receive their degrees when Tennessee State University holds its spring commencement at Hale Stadium.

She will be the third among her siblings to receive a college degree since arriving in the U.S. Two younger brothers, one in Mechanical Engineering and the other in Nursing, have also graduated from TSU. Her youngest sister is pursuing a nursing degree at Middle Tennessee Sate University.

“The idea of graduating May 11 is very surreal because I have been through so much and there were many times that I was not sure I would get through the Praxis exams,” said Babiry, who will receive her degree in Early Childhood Education. “It is even more special to know that my parents will finally see me graduate after many years of hard work. I am thankful to Allah the almighty for their support and for giving me the strength and some very important people who understood my situation and encouraged me along the way.”

While Babiry tries to forget the painful past, she is reminded of “teachers who treated me badly because I did not understand like the other students” did.

“I have made a promise not to do that to my students. Instead, I will be like those who did everything they could to make sure I fit in, understood and treated me with respect and not like I was a burden. A kind word and a little encouragement go a long way; believe me,” she said, giving recognition to some of her TSU professors, especially Dr. Graham Matthews, her senior advisor.

“I had some good teachers, but Dr. Matthews, Ms. (Deborah) Bellamy (also at TSU), and Dr. Tammy Lipsey (Reading Clinical Coordinator for the Metro School System) are heaven sent,” she said. “They were never too busy to make sure I was doing the right thing.”

In addition to her degree, Babiry has completed all certifications required for teaching, with the exception of the English Language Learners Certification or endorsement required to teach in the schools in her area. She should get that certification soon, she said.

She is currently a student teacher at Haywood Elementary School in Nashville.

“I am really enjoying student teaching. I love seeing my students’ faces every day and helping them,” said Babiry, who also worked as a substitute teacher with the Metro School System. “I have a heart for children.  Like many immigrants, I have experienced many hardships in my life, and I am certain that because of my experience, I will be the best role model for my students.”

Babiry seeks no pity, even though it took her seven years to complete her college work, including two years off to focus on passing the Praxis, which she attempted 13 times before finally passing, and spending her first two years of college taking ELL classes and developmental course, she feels stronger.

“This was all because of the difficulty with the English language,” she said. “But I am thankful I stuck with it. I am stronger, more confident, and with my education, I am ready to face the world.”