Baylor Elementary Education Graduate Named National Student Teacher of the Year

November 5, 2022
Emily Blackwell

Emily Blackwell, B.S.Ed. '22, now teaching first grade at Brentfield Elementary in Richardson ISD, has been honored as the 2022 National Student Teacher of the Year by Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, and the Association of Teacher Educators. (Photo by Hannah DLT Buresh)

SOE Contact: Meg Cullar, Baylor School of Education, 254-710-6435
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WACO, Texas (Nov. 6, 2022) – Baylor University elementary education graduate Emily Blackwell, B.S.Ed. ’22, now teaching first grade at Brentfield Elementary in Richardson ISD, has been honored as the 2022 National Student Teacher of the Year. The award is given by Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, and the Association of Teacher Educators.

The KDP/ATE National Student Teacher of the Year award recognizes one student teacher/intern annually who has demonstrated the ability to plan and develop classroom management skills and instructional strategies that support all students; establish interpersonal relationships with students, parents, faculty and staff; and reflect powerfully on their student teaching experience. Award winners are acknowledged with a scholarship award and a speaking engagement at the ATE Annual Meeting.

“I am so thankful to have attended Baylor University,” Blackwell said. “Baylor faculty and my mentor teacher did a wonderful job of encouraging me and pushing me to be my best. I went into my first year of teaching feeling so confident in my teaching abilities. I am beyond thankful for Baylor's education program and all those who helped mold me into the teacher I am today.”

This is the second honoree in four years for a Baylor School of Education graduate, with Lauren Hornbeak, BSEd ’19, a secondary life science education major, receiving the award in 2019.

As part of the application process, Blackwell submitted lesson plans, essays and other materials, including a video of a fourth-grade science lesson she taught at Hewitt Elementary in Midway ISD, where she taught during her senior year at Baylor. Valerie Taylor served as her mentor teacher, and Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, Ed.D., Baylor clinical associate professor and elementary education program coordinator, was her intern supervisor.

“Emily is a dedicated, intelligent young professional who positively impacts everyone she meets,” said Purdum-Cassidy, who described Blackwell as “knowledgeable in content, pedagogy and assessment” as a professional and dedicated to teaching for understanding. She said Blackwell has wonderful rapport with students and colleagues and that she is a dedicated and conscientious student.

Blackwell said she was blessed to learn under the tutelage of Purdum-Cassidy for four full years, since Purdum-Cassidy taught her Introduction to Teaching course.

“She usually teaches upper-level classes, so I was very lucky to have her,” Blackwell said. “And she was my intern supervisor my senior year. It was amazing to get to know her so well and for her to know me. She knew when to push me, what needed to focus on, and what parts I’d already mastered.”

Blackwell also learned a lot from her mentor teacher, Valerie Taylor, and that she still texts her often to check in, tell her what’s happening in her classroom or share a funny story.

“When I found out about this award, Dr. Cassidy and Mrs. Taylor were the first two people I called,” she said.

Blackwell was so busy during her senior year at Baylor — as a student teacher, performer with the Baylor Dance Company, officer in sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, sweetheart of Pi Kappa Phi and member of Alpha Lambda Delta honor society — that a full-time job seems reasonably manageable to her now. In fact, she’s taken on an additional role — as a professional dancer for the Dallas Sidekicks arena soccer team, performing at games during their season.

The School of Education curriculum and clinical experiences also prepared her well for leading her own classroom.

“Beginning field experiences in our freshman year and then building up to full-time student teaching was so valuable,” she said.

During their senior year, Baylor education majors teach in local classrooms for more than 100 days during the school year. The Texas state requirement for teacher certification is 70 days. Baylor students also teach in local classrooms four mornings a week during their junior year.

As a junior, Blackwell spent one semester teaching at Waco ISD’s Hillcrest Professional Development School (PDS) in the second-grade classroom of Jamie Ochoa and one semester at Midway ISD’s Spring Valley PDS in the first-grade classroom of Stephanie Bealka. This extensive clinical preparation means that Baylor graduates enter their first year of teaching feeling well prepared for the challenge.

As a senior, Blackwell also was part of a pilot research program, spearheaded by Sam Houston State University, that simulated the Texas Teacher Evaluation Support System (T-TESS) that districts use for teacher growth. Blackwell’s district uses that system, so she already understood the portfolio-based program because she had learned it at Baylor under the guidance of Purdum-Cassidy and Taylor.

As a Baylor senior, Blackwell was recipient of the Lorena B. Stretch Award for Outstanding Student in Elementary Education. The award is named for Dr. Lorena Stretch, who was dean of the SOE from 1935-1957 and the School’s longest-serving dean.

Blackwell has several family members, including her mother and both grandmothers, who are teachers and school-based professionals, and she plans a long teaching career for herself.

“I love teaching,” she said. “I almost always leave the classroom fulfilled and eager to return the next day. My students are so fun, and it’s so amazing to get to watch them learn and grow.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. 


For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing 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. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit to learn more.