Future teachers recognized in Quest for Quality

Melanie Catteau and Kaitlyn Howell

Melanie, Cautteau ('12)
Denison, Texas

Kaitlyn Howell ('13)
Rockwall, Texas

Most children go through a slew of career choices ranging from fireman to ballerina to ice cream truck driver. Two ACU students are doing more than pursuing their childhood dreams of becoming a teacher; these students are shining brightly in their preparation for leading a classroom and have been recognized for their excellence.

The quest for quality

Senior Kaitlyn Howell from Rockwall, Texas, and December graduate Melanie Catteau from Denison, Texas, have been selected as exemplary teacher candidates in the Quest for Quality program.

The Quest for Quality Teacher Preparation in Texas is a collaborative initiative between the Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The program highlights exemplary quality in university-based teacher preparation in Texas.

Thirty-three students from around the state were selected for this award. Teacher candidates are nominated by their universities and represent the ultimate goal of the Quest for Quality: exceptional teachers.

Dr. Dana Pemberton, chair and professor of the Department of Teacher Education, says of award recipient Melanie Catteau, "From the earliest stages of her preparation Melanie demonstrated a level of excellence to which all candidates should aspire. She is developing into a true teacher scholar - one who engages in continuous inquiry and self-reflection."

Howell's capabilities were highlighted in her elementary classroom work. Dr. Sheila Delony, assistant professor for teaching education says of Howell, "Within her guided reading groups, Kaitlyn encountered diversity of ability levels, home languages and socioeconomic levels. She adapted her delivery and methods to meet the needs of each individual in her group."

Using God-given gifts

Howell has known from a young age that teaching is her calling. "Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a teacher," she says. "I used to play school with my dad almost every day as a child and knew from the beginning it was what I wanted to do. After pursuing the teaching career, I have come to realize more and more that God has blessed me with a gift of loving and interacting with children."

Catteau used her gifts during her time teaching English to children in China, which helped her passion for teaching blossom.

"The students were so excited to learn and so energetic. I loved teaching them. I came home and told my mom that if I had ever doubted that I wanted to teach, that doubt was gone," says Catteau. 

Teaching goals

In looking to the future, both award recipients expressed a desire to keep their passion for teaching alive and apparent in their everyday work.

"I plan to stay up to date on research concerning best teaching practices," says Catteau. "My goal is to not become stagnant in my teaching but to continue to grow as a professional."

Howell says, "I will strive to implement differentiation in my classroom, meeting the needs of every student and presenting learning in an interactive, engaging manner. Even though I may be exhausted by the end of the day, I want to walk into my classroom every day and know that everything that I do is for my students."

The rewards

Teachers do not always receive the gratitude they deserve. As future elementary teachers, Howell and Catteau are confident that the satisfaction of teaching and using their God-given gifts of working with children will be reward enough.

Howell has been observing and teaching in a third-grade classroom this semester. One day a student came up to Howell and gave her a big hug. The student then said, "You are the greatest teacher, the best, my most favorite teacher of all time."

"I immediately began tearing up," Howell recalls. "There is nothing more special to me than hearing those words from one of my students. It is the small things that confirm the choice I have made to pursue a teaching career."  

Catteau has been student teaching this semester in the Abilene elementary schools. She says of her experience, "It has been a little bit of a challenge adapting to teaching in someone else's room with new students. However, I have been blessed with two incredible teachers who have allowed me to try new things with their classes and implement some of the teaching strategies I've learned at ACU."

Howell and Catteau are thankful to the teacher education department for developing their teaching abilities. Howell says, "Teaching is my calling in life. I want to minister and serve the Lord in everything I do, and I believe teaching is how I use the gift God gave me to serve him and expand his kingdom."

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Serving Local Schools
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ACU Teacher Education majors get hands-on with students at a local elementary school.