MTSU College of Education Recognizes Local Educators for Superb Student Teacher Mentoring

MURFRESBORO, Tenn. – The art of teaching comes to life in the classroom and MTSU education students are front and center thanks to mentors from partner districts Murfreesboro City Schools and Rutherford County Schools who welcome students into their classrooms and under their wings.

To honor and recognize the work of these educators, a College of Education faculty committee coordinated with education students to surprise four of them with a Mentor Teacher Achievement Award in time to Teacher Appreciation Week in early May.

From Murfreesboro City Schools, Ashlee Barnes from Hobgood Elementary won the elementary award and Lori Chew from Salem Elementary won the special education award. From Rutherford County Schools, David Bonilla of Whitworth-Buchanan Middle won the middle school award and Brooke Singleton of Rock Springs Elementary School in La Vergne, Tennessee, won the early childhood award.

The committee developed the new award to give back to teacher mentors, said Shannon Harmon, associate professor of education.

“We wanted to say ‘thank you’ to the teachers whose classes we work in and who welcome us, and our (student) teacher candidates with open arms,” ​​Harmon said. “They deserve so much more than this recognition, but this is just one way we hope they know how much they mean to us and the contestants.”

To select the winners, the committee asked education students to tell them about teacher mentors who go above and beyond to make a difference in their classrooms and to support the work of the College of Education.

“The committee met, used a rubric to grade submissions, and selected at least one recipient per program in our department,” Harmon said.

Barnes, a fourth grade teacher at Hobgood, had no idea she was up for an award.

“What a great recognition!” Barnes said. “It’s a huge honour. I always thought that mentoring was a good place for me. Being recognized for it just lets me know that I’m doing well.

Originally from Smyrna, Tennessee, she was a mentor teacher for seven years and mentored 12 education students.

Bonilla, a seventh-grade English teacher at Whitworth-Buchanan, said mentor teachers are a bridge between teaching and learning.

“They are experienced, high-level teachers who can show you best practices and help you find the right solutions,” Bonilla said.

Hailing from Long Island, New York, Bonilla was also surprised by the victory.

“I think teaching is something you can fall in love with, but part of that is the support you get in those tough times. I hope to be someone who can support others and help them fall in love with teaching,” Bonilla said.

Salem’s Chew, a specialist teacher and native of Smithville, Tennessee, left accounting to become a teacher 10 years ago to make a difference in the lives of others and mentor education students to help encourage and support new teachers entering the field.

“Winning this award means having more confidence to be a mentor teacher again in the future,” Chew said. “It gives me confidence that I am providing the support my resident teacher (student) needs.”

Troy, Tennessee, a Singleton native who teaches kindergarten in Rock Springs, felt truly honored to receive the award.

“As MTSU alumni, it is so gratifying to be recognized for the successes of the program that deepened my passion for education and shaped me as a teacher,” Singleton said.

Singleton added that her student teacher, her very first, also taught her a lot as an educator.

MTSU’s Harmon pointed out that the college’s partnerships with mentor teachers and school districts are critical for education students.

“They are essential in preparing future teachers to be successful in their coursework and their first years of teaching,” she said. “We simply cannot prepare our candidates without them. These teacher mentors don’t have to put one more thing on their plate, but they do…. They are heroes who deserve all the recognition!

This first year of the award being a success, the committee plans to continue it next year.

“Mentoring teachers may never know the impact they have on their students or on their student-teacher candidates,” said Pam Ertel, associate professor of education and committee member. “Now more than ever, we want teachers who have remained engaged in their work and their students to be valued and respected.”

To learn more about opportunities at the College of Education, visit the website and the Facebook page

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