Indiana State University Newsroom



Good, Better, BEST: Indiana State invests in teacher leaders

September 21, 2015

Zackary Taylor was "that kid" in his high school math class - the one who caught on to concepts with ease and everyone else looked to for help.

"I learned so much from my calculus teacher senior year and watching how she cared for her students helped me realize that I want to teach," said Taylor, an Indiana State University freshman math education major from Bedford and a Boener Scholar in the new Bayh College of Education Scholars to Teacher (BEST) program. "My classmates would come to me for help, which made me think about different ways to explain things to others. It was rewarding to help students and see them begin to understand."

The Bayh College of Education Scholars to Teachers program aims to prepare teacher leaders, like Taylor, to transform lives and communities and demonstrate a commitment to inclusive excellence through leadership, professional development, community engagement and experiential learning opportunities.

Taylor is among 21 scholars in the program's inaugural cohort, which includes four President's Scholars, seven Boener Scholars and 10 recipients of the new Sycamore Teacher Leader scholarship for high achieving students majoring in elementary and/or special education who have an interest in becoming teacher leaders.

"(BEST) is a unique experience and it has been very uplifting and encouraging," Taylor said. "I'm excited for the great leadership opportunities the program will provide and to be an ambassador for the Bayh College of Education."

While all students in the college are encouraged to student teach in the Navajo nation, a school abroad or in a culturally diverse setting, Sycamore Teacher Leader Scholars will receive a stipend to support that experience or to be used for on- and off-campus student leadership and professional development opportunities.

"The BEST program will allow for one-on-one training with faculty and staff within the College of Education," said Jacob Domalewski, a freshman early education major and Sycamore Teacher Leader Scholar from New Albany. "I've always wanted to be a teacher, and I think the one-on-one support of the BEST program will show me tactics that I can use in the classroom and better strengthen my ability to lead my peers and fellow teachers during collaboration."

Funded by the Unbounded Possibilities initiative, BEST scholars will participate in a book study, faculty-peer mentoring, local and extended leadership shadowing, research, community engagement and recruitment activities.

"These young people have initiative, energy and skill and want to make a positive difference and help students learn in their classrooms, as well as help the larger community," said Pamela Gresham, BEST Scholars Program director. "We, in the Bayh College of Education, want to support that and increase their skills, passion and talent through the BEST Program.

"Given the critical time in education, we need to be intentional in our efforts to recruit and scaffold passionate young people with opportunities to develop leadership and service, along with their content and application of classroom skills," Gresham said. "BEST Scholars are the teacher leaders who will say ‘we can and we will'."

President's Scholar Gabrielle Comelleri, a freshman social studies education and history major from Terre Haute, is eager to see how the program will serve a dual purpose: prepare for teaching and networking."Like so many teachers have done for me, I hope to not only make a difference in my subject material, but also in my students' lives by being a role model and inspiration," Comelleri said. "I believe that the BEST Program will benefit me in two ways. One as an individual which will lead to becoming a better teacher, who will not only pass down knowledge but also inspire, and second by gaining the proper knowledge and skills needed. I believe that through this program I will be able to network and also leave Indiana State more prepared in my profession."

The program developed after a conversation last year between Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of the Bayh College, and President Dan Bradley regarding the teaching pipeline and Indiana State's contribution.

"That conversation was a catalyst for me and inspired me - someone who started her career as an elementary school teacher, someone who has a mother who is still teaching in Tennessee," said Hill-Clarke, who added that the talk spurred ongoing meetings between her and the college's administrative team until BEST was born. "Knowing that we have such strong support from our president meant a lot to me as the dean of the Bayh College of Education, and it was a team effort with various offices on campus coming together to make this dream come true."

Photo: https://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/ISUphotoservices/Photo-Services-People-and-Grou/Best-Group-Photo-2015/i-822fBFZ/0/S/September%2008%2C%202015%20Best%206994-S.jpg - The Bayh College of Education Scholars to Teachers program's inaugural cohort includes 21 students - four Presidential Scholars, seven Boener Scholars and 10 recipients of the new Sycamore Teacher Leader scholarship for high achieving students majoring in elementary and/or special education who have an interest in becoming teacher leaders. Also pictured are Dean Kandi Hill-Clarke, bottom row left, and Marty Larson and Diane Randolph, second to last row far right, with Education Student Services, and Pamela Gresham, bottom right, BEST Scholars Program director.

Story Highlights

Bayh College of Education Scholars to Teachers prepares teacher leaders to transform lives and communities and demonstrate a commitment to inclusive excellence through leadership, professional development, community engagement and experiential learning.

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