Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Three WT Education Faculty Honored As Academic Year Opens

Drs. Ashley Campbell, from right, Michelle Simmons and Judy Williams have been named the winners of the Liz and John Mozola Faculty Excellence Award at West Texas A&M University.

CANYON, Texas — As the 2023-24 academic year dawns at West Texas A&M University, a trio of outstanding faculty members in the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences.

Drs. Ashley Campbell, Michelle Simmons and Judy Williams have been named the winners of the Liz and John Mozola Faculty Excellence Award.

“The Liz and John Mozola Faculty Excellence Award recognizes deserving recipients for teaching excellence and commitment to the preparation of aspiring teachers,” said Dr. Gary Bigham, dean. “This year’s recipients exemplify our College’s commitment to innovation and distinction in educator preparation.”

The award was established in 2018 to recognize teacher educators, those who prepare future instructors and train them to provide exemplary education in their eventual classrooms.

Campbell, WT’s Dr. Helen Piehl Professor of Education, is the chair of the Leadership in Curriculum and Instruction Master of Education program.

She joined WT in 2005 after earning her bachelor, master and doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University. She is the author of several articles published in national and state journals and is a member of the Association for Science Teacher Education, the National Science Teaching Association, the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Science Teachers Association of Texas.

Campbell said she is honored to receive the award because she shares a passion with the Mozolas for teaching STEM subjects.

“They have been such strong supporters of STEM initiatives in our department, and I love teaching those subjects, especially outdoors,” Campbell said. “So much learning can occur outside the four walls of a classroom, and it is a joy to share these methods with my students. In addition to our classroom learning, we look at outdoor lessons on campus, at the Amarillo Botanical Gardens and at Medi Park. Learning outside has so many benefits.”

Simmons, WT’s Dr. Lanna Hatton Professor of Learning Disabilities, is director of the WT Center for Learning Disabilities. She earned degrees at Lubbock Christian University and Texas Tech University, and joined WT in 2017. She is actively involved in service to educators, families, and students with learning differences and developmental disabilities in the Panhandle and statewide. She is a member of the Texas Educational Diagnosticians Association, the Council for Exceptional Children, Learning Disabilities Association and the Council for Learning Disabilities.

Simmons said she’s honored to be recognized for working with undergraduate education students.

“I love getting to instill a love of learning in students, collaborate with families and the opportunity to research a field of study in great need,” Simmons said. “This award will allow me to further instructional planning in my courses.”

Williams, an associate professor of education, is a WT graduate who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University, as well as a doctoral degree from Texas Tech. She is the director of the Williams Children’s Literature Collection and Reading room and teaches children’s literature, reading and early childhood courses. She is a member of the International Literacy Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Williams said the Mozolas’ long-standing support of the department is encouraging.

“The award will allow me to become a better educator by furthering my research interests or participating in a specialized professional development course,” Williams said. “I like to think that I might pay this generous gift forward as I teach, train and help preservice teachers become all they can be in a classroom.”

Educating the educators is baked into WT’s history.

WT opened in 1910 as West Texas State Normal College, a school that trained teachers. Today, about 75 percent of all teachers and administrators throughout the Panhandle region have at least one degree or certificate from WT.

In addition to teachers and school administrators, the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences is responsible for the preparation of school psychologists, social work professionals, and students for graduate programs in psychology, sociology, the law and public services and administration, as well as direct engagement with the community through its programs in criminal justice and emergency management administration. The College currently serves more than 1,700 students, making it the second-largest College at WT.

Recruiting and retaining the best faculty and staff members is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.

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