NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University's educator preparation program in the James I. Perkins College of Education hosted its second Partners in Educator Preparation Appreciation Banquet May 4 on the university campus.

During their final semester before graduation, SFA students majoring in education begin their student teaching in school districts across Texas. SFA sends approximately 350 students each academic year into approximately 500 classrooms across Texas to complete their student teaching.

The banquet recognized school administrators, mentoring classroom teachers, field supervisors, administrators, and faculty and staff members in the educator preparation program for their support throughout the year.

Dr. Christina Sinclair, associate dean for assessment and accountability in the college, explained this banquet is a way to honor and thank the teachers and staff members from across the state who partner with SFA's teacher candidates.

"It takes effective communication and collaboration from all stakeholders to ensure our SFA teacher candidates develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to positively impact all pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students," Sinclair said. "We are so thankful for our partnerships and the invaluable knowledge seasoned educators around Texas instill in our students."

The evening included an informal reception with music provided by students from SFA's School of Music, dinner, a keynote speech and an awards presentation.

Dr. Laura Wilson, who was the second female superintendent in Texas, served as the keynote speaker. Throughout her 56-year career in education, Wilson has served as an assistant superintendent, principal, special education director and teacher in a variety of Texas school districts. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at SFA.

"Dr. Wilson is an exemplary leader with a tireless commitment to excellence in education who continues to set the perfect example for all of us to follow," Sinclair said. "We were so thankful she was able to share her experiences with our partners in education. She is truly an inspiration."

SFA teacher candidates nominated their field supervisors and mentoring teachers for awards, which were presented during the banquet.

Diana Burris and Denise Chevalier, adjunct teachers at SFA, received the Outstanding Field Supervisor award for their work in helping more than 100 SFA student teachers during the fall and spring semesters. Burris taught the second and fifth grades for 38 years. Chevalier was a teacher for 21 years, elementary assistant principal for eight years and an elementary principal for three years.

Sharon Martin from Cushing Elementary School and Elizabeth Hutchens from Fredonia Elementary School received the Outstanding Cooperating Teacher award for the fall and spring semesters. Martin has been a kindergarten teacher at Cushing Elementary for 31 years and has worked with 11 Lumberjack student teachers. Hutchens has taught for more than 20 years.