Baylor Professors Inspire School of Education Students with Faith in the K-12 Classroom

March 18, 2024
Faith in the K-12 Classroom

The recent sessions by Dr. Jon Eckert, Dr. Erik Carter, and Dr. Kelly Johnston at Baylor University's School of Education left a mark on the Class of 2024, sparking profound reflections and inspiring insights into the intersection of faith and education. As students eagerly absorbed the wisdom imparted by these distinguished educators, they found themselves enriched by their experiences, anecdotes, and transformative ideas.

Among the takeaways, one sentiment echoed resoundingly: the imperative to reach and support each student individually. In a landscape often dominated by generalized approaches, the emphasis on personalized care and attention resonated deeply with aspiring educators. The metaphor of not missing the trees for the forest encapsulated this sentiment, reminding students of the importance of seeing each student's unique journey and potential.

Jon Eckert Faith Session
Dr. Jon Eckert

The illustration from the movie CODA struck a chord with many in Dr. Jon Eckert’s session, illustrating the transformative power of giving students a safe space to respond. Witnessing the teacher's unwavering support and encouragement in the face of challenges reinforced the notion that every interaction holds the potential to change lives. 

Eckert's emphasis on feedback, engagement, and well-being (FEW) emerged as a cornerstone of effective teaching. Students were inspired by his insights, recognizing the profound impact of fostering an environment where every student feels valued, seen, and empowered to flourish. The importance of uplifting educators and fostering a culture of support resonated deeply, as students reflected on the transformative potential of feedback, engagement, and well-being in their future classrooms.

Dr. Erik Carter's exploration of faith and disability underscored the profound impact of inclusive practices rooted in compassion and empathy. The notion of integrating faith into the classroom as a manifestation of Jesus' love resonated as a calling for Christian educators, highlighting the transformative power of embodying faith in action.

In Dr. Carter's session, the theme of belonging was intricately woven into the fabric of his discussion, echoing the mission of the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD). Through personal anecdotes and reflections, Dr. Carter vividly illustrated the transformative power of fostering a sense of belonging, particularly for individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

Erik Carter Faith Session
Dr. Erik Carter

Throughout his presentation, Dr. Carter offered practical insights and strategies for educators and advocates, aligning with the BCDD's commitment to advancing empirical and theological scholarship focused on disability, faith, and flourishing. By emphasizing the importance of building authentic relationships, promoting empathy, and celebrating diversity, he empowered attendees to actively cultivate environments where everyone feels valued and included.

Dr. Kelly Johnston specializes in literacy engagement among underserved communities. Her research illuminates the implications for academic growth and well-being, advocating for equitable education access. Johnston's work embodies Baylor's commitment to excellence and service, making a meaningful impact in students' lives.

Kelly Johnston
Dr. Kelly Johnston

Johnston's session provided a powerful reminder that every interaction in the classroom is an opportunity to exemplify faith. By emphasizing the significance of our words and actions, Johnston highlighted the importance of intentional communication with both children and teachers. From the way we engage in dialogue with students to how we position them in affirming and inclusive ways, every gesture holds the potential to reinforce values of empathy and respect. Moreover, Johnston encouraged attendees to challenge negative discourse or labels that fail to recognize the full humanity of those they work with. This emphasis on advocacy and compassion underscores the profound impact educators can have in nurturing environments where everyone feels valued and affirmed.

As the session drew to a close, students departed with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of the profound impact they can have as educators. Armed with insights gleaned from Dr. Eckert, Dr. Carter, and Dr. Johnston they embark on their educational journeys with a steadfast commitment to fostering environments where faith, compassion, and excellence converge to nurture the hearts and minds of each student.

In the words of one inspired student, "As Christians and educators, our priority is to be there for our students, to initiate conversation, include them, make them feel seen, and meet them where they are at." With this ethos guiding their practice, the Class of 2024 stands poised to transform lives and shape futures with faith, joy, and unwavering dedication.