Terry James brings care, experience to OBU

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

If you were to sit in on one of associate professor of education and director of teacher education Dr. Terry James’s education classes, you would probably hear him say, “I think the teacher is the most important person in society today.”

James values education, learning and most of all, students.

James originally came to Oklahoma Baptist University in 2008 and served as an assistant professor of education.

During his time as an undergraduate student, James studied at Indiana State University and obtained a bachelor’s degree.

He completed a master’s program at Indiana University, and ultimately, a doctorate program at the University of Oklahoma.

James has always respected the profession of teaching and the function that it serves for society.

“I really decided in the eighth or ninth grade that I wanted to be a teacher,” James said. “I liked my teachers. I respected them. I thought that what they were doing was important. I guess I was fortunate, in a way, that I decided early.”

James is originally from Indiana, where he went to school.

“I majored in English, and taught English, Physical Education and coached some football and track in Indiana, then moved out to Oklahoma,” James said.

James has had many roles in the education system that vary in responsibility.

He taught in the public school system for many years, worked as both assistant superintendent and superintendent in different school districts.

When he was teaching in the public school, James taught English because of his love for literature.

“I thought, if I’m going to have to read all of this material, why not let it be something interesting and fun to read,” James said. “Would I rather read a chapter of a history textbook or would I rather read Dickens or Wordsworth? I’m actually reading the Canterbury Tales right now. I thought it would be more interesting and fun to read things that are considered great literature.”

James came to OBU after he retired from the public school system. He said he is very happy to be here working with future teachers.

“I can think of no greater privilege than to get to work with my future colleagues,” James said. “I am absolutely convinced that the teacher is the most important person in education.”

James is passionate about education as a system and as a deep need in our society. He said he believes that teachers are becoming even more influential and needed in society because of the functions that the schools serve today.

“I believe that the teacher is the most important person in our society right now, with everything that they are expected to do,” James said. “Teachers now have to analyze the deepest needs of a student and figure out how to respond to them. I have seen the role of the school increase over time, and the importance of the teacher, which was always important. So, what greater privilege is there than to get to work with my future colleagues?”

James currently teaches many education classes at OBU. He also serves as the director of the Teacher Education department.

Dr. James loves OBU and its students. He strongly believes that OBU prepares students to become great teachers.

“I think you all are wonderful,” James said. “I was involved in hiring maybe a thousand teachers over my career. I would hire you all in a second. I think the average OBU student is mature, a person of integrity, responsible and dependable. I just respect the students here, just who they are as people.”

Teacher Education students seem to appreciate Dr. James for all he does for the program.

“Dr. James really cares about you as a person and wants you to succeed,” freshman elementary education major Sadi Hostettler said. “I have learned so much more about our education system a how to become a great teacher.”

Student Professional Oklahoma Educators hosts book drive

By Abigail Chadwick, Assistant News Editor   (Photo by Preston Morris/The Bison)

A couple of small boxes have been placed around campus with the intention of making a large impact.

The Student Professional Oklahoma Educators association (SPOE) has placed painted boxes in the lower GC and on the second floor of Shawnee Hall. These book drive collection boxes will remain until April 13. The donated books will be given to students at Horace Mann Elementary School.

Two goals of the SPOE are the professional development of its students and supporting the community.

“Our initial goal in SPOE is to provide professional development for our teacher candidates,” Dr. Kellie Young, assistant professor of education, said. “We really do want to provide support for the people going through the program through that professional development, but then we also want to reach out. We don’t want to just be reaching in and only providing for our candidates, but also reaching out to the community and supporting them as well.”

Some Shawnee children don’t have books at home.

“Books are pretty expensive as a whole,” Young said. “[Sometimes] you don’t really realize that a lot of students don’t even have one book at home.”

Reading affects a child’s future studies.

“Literacy is a huge component of teaching and learning,” a junior interdisciplinary major in elementary education, early childhood education and special education and president of OBU’s SPOE chapter, Jessica George said. “Especially third-grade on up, most of your other areas like math and science and social studies comes from reading and so if you’re behind on reading that has a huge impact on other areas as well.”

The book drive is for elementary grade-level books.

“So, we’re looking at ages first through fifth-grade,” Young said. “So, they can be picture books; they can be chapter books, really anything that we would consider children’s [litera-ture].”

SPOE requests that books be in good condition.

“The books that we are collecting can be used, but we ask that they are gently used,” George said. “If it’s been through a couple generations and it’s faded or falling apart that might not be a good one to donate.”

Books may be of any type within the appropriate age range, fiction or nonfiction.

“The hope is to give them a book about something that they’ll be interested in and that will grow their interest in reading,” George said. “Because no child is the same and all children are different we need all kinds of books.”

One factor in a book’s reading level is its length.

“One key thing is going to be how big the books [are],” George said. “If it’s a really long chapter book, like some of those Harry Potter books or even Series of Unfortunate Events, they’re probably going to be more on your middle school or high school level.”

The AR Book Find website may help determine the reading level of some books.

“On AR Book find it will tell you one if it’s an AR book,” George said. “We don’t necessarily care if it’s an AR book or not, but if it is it will let you know the book level. So, if it’s a 4.3 that means it’s a fourth-grade level book, if it’s a 6.0 that means it’s a sixth-grade level book.”

The book drive is part of SPOE’s goal of serving the community.

“We really want to give back to the community because we have a lot of teachers that offer their classrooms for our student teaching or field experiences,” Young said. “So, we want to try and give back to the community and our goal is to raise enough books through this book drive to be able to provide all of the students at Horace Mann with a book they can take home during the summer, so that’s our ultimate goal; we hope we make that.”

SPOE staff advisor and SPOE president said they hope to have more book drives in the future.

“I think we are probably going to continue to do this, that’s the plan, every spring semester through April and try to collect books,” Young said. “That’s our goal is to do this annually and get everyone involved, but also to do it campus-wide so that other people have the opportunity to donate books, but also have an awareness that there is a need in our community.”

So far about 30 books have been donated.

“Right now we definitely still need a lot more books,” George said.