Baylor School of Education Graduate Honored with Statewide Award

October 17, 2017
Rachel Vaughn

Rachel Vaughn, B.S.Ed. ?17, is the second consecutive Baylor School of Education graduate to receive the Clinical Teacher of the Year Award by the Texas Directors of Field Experience. The award honors senior-level teacher-education students. (Meg Cullar/Baylor University School of Education)

Rachel Vaughn, B.S.Ed. ’17, becomes second consecutive Baylor student-teacher honored as state’s Clinical Teacher of the Year

Media Contact: Tonya B. Hudson, 254-710-4656

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WACO, Texas (Oct. 17, 2017) – For the second year in a row, a Baylor University School of Education student teacher has been named Clinical Teacher of the Year for the State of Texas by the Texas Directors of Field Experience (TDFE), the organization of faculty members within university teacher-education programs who supervise field experiences of students.

Rachel Vaughn, B.S.Ed. ’17, will receive the Clinical Teacher of the Year Award, which honors senior-level teacher-education students, during the statewide meeting this fall of the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education (CSOTTE), of which TDFE is a part. Vaughn is among three honorees from university-based programs.

Baylor education majors, during their senior year, teach in local classrooms for more than 100 days during the school year. The state requirement for teacher certification is 65 days.

“I came into college worried that I wouldn’t achieve anything because I’m dysgraphic and dyslexic,” Vaughn said. “I wanted to study gifted education so I could help those students who are profoundly gifted but also hampered a little bit by a learning disability. I see no reason why children who have trouble reading, writing or spelling can’t also show how wonderfully talented they are.”

Vaughn was identified in kindergarten as gifted, but she still struggled in school because of a learning disability. However, there was never any question that she wanted to be a teacher.

“Before I was in pre-school, I was modifying activities for my brothers. In kindergarten, I developed a behavior management plan for one of my classmates,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn chose Baylor because she wanted to be as well prepared as possible. “Because of my own educational background, I had experiences both fabulous and not-so-great,” she said. “For college, I wanted to lean more toward the fabulous as opposed to not-so-much, and that meant Baylor’s education program.”

Krys Goree, Ph.D., director of the Office of Professional Practice for the Baylor School of Education and director of field experiences for Baylor students, said the award, which honors outstanding instruction and interaction with children, was very competitive. Each nominee submitted a video of a full class session in which they were lead teacher, along with a video introduction and reflection. Nominees also submitted their lesson plan, three essays and a recommendation letter.

Goree said that Vaughn stands out for facilitating a classroom experience where students take ownership of their learning. “Rachel focuses on student interest in her planning, and that translates into student learning,” Goree said. “When I think of Rachel, I think of enthusiasm and skill; she continually models best practices.”

Through the Baylor School of Education teacher-preparation program, Vaughn spent her entire senior year as an intern in a local school classroom. Because she received a supplemental certificate in gifted and talented education, Vaughn served in two different schools, teaching with Nicole Grygar in fourth grade at Woodway Elementary and with Susan Mathis in third grade at Spring Valley Elementary, both in Midway ISD.

Paula Gardner, Vaughn’s intern supervisor, said Vaughn constantly exceeded her expectations and those of her mentor teachers. “Her command of content and careful design of instructional plans provided students with authentic experiences for learning through inquiry,” Gardner said. “Rachel provided differentiated learning opportunities and assessment to best meet the needs of her students and was innovative in introducing new approaches to learning."

Gardner also said Vaughn embraced the internship as an opportunity to grow as a teacher. “Rachel built meaningful relationships with her students and encouraged them to take charge of their own learning,” she said. “Rachel's students were and will be blessed to call her ‘Teacher.’”

When Vaughn first failed spelling tests in grade school, she was told she was lazy, stupid and that she wasn’t applying herself. “It really hurt my second-grade heart, because I’m none of those things,” she said.

Today she is a difference-maker for all students and especially those who struggle.

“For me, it would have been so incredible if someone had told me that I wasn’t stupid or lazy and that this one thing didn’t define my life,” she said.

Vaughn graduated from Baylor in May 2017 with a degree in elementary education with supplemental certificates in gifted education and ESL. At Baylor she was a member of Delta Delta Delta and received the Who’s Who award. Vaughn grew up in Bellaire, Texas, where she was a gold-level Girl Scout and graduated from Houston’s St. Agnes Academy in 2013.

She is now teaching second grade at West University Elementary in Houston ISD, where she intends to inspire her students to be lifelong learners.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.