Baylor School of Education Graduate Honored with Statewide Teaching Award

Debbie Chou, B.S.Ed. ’23, is the fifth Baylor student teacher in recent years to be named the state’s Clinical Teacher of the Year.

November 6, 2023
Debbie Chou, Clinical Teacher of the Year 2023

WACO, Texas (Nov. 6, 2023) – Debbie Chou, who earned her B.S.Ed. from Baylor University in May 2023, continued the Baylor School of Education’s string of statewide honors for excellence in classroom teaching by its student teachers. Chou has become the fifth Baylor student teacher in the last seven years to receive the Clinical Teacher of the Year award for the State of Texas from the Texas Directors of Field Experience (TDFE), an organization of faculty members within university teacher-education programs who supervise field experiences.

The award honors senior-level, teacher-education students for classroom teaching excellence during the student-teaching experience. Chou was a student teacher for first graders at Hillcrest Professional Development School in the Waco Independent School District.

“It was surreal,” Chou said about her reaction to receiving this award. “I am deeply honored, and I still can’t believe it.”

Passion for teaching

Chou came to Baylor because the teacher-preparation program provides extensive in-class experience, which she found vital as she prepared for her career path. She’s also from a family of educators, including her mother, a high school biology teacher.

“Teaching became my passion and professional aspiration when I discovered that it combined two of my driving factors — to love others and to impact the next generation,” Chou said.

Chou said Baylor School of Education set her up with all the right tools for success, getting plenty of time to interact with students during her internship year and before.

As a student-teaching intern, she watched her students “progress and grow” throughout a full academic year and feels that multiple experiences teaching in local schools, along with Baylor SOE’s intensive coursework and supportive faculty, have put her on the path to be the best teacher she can be.

Importance of mentorship

Chou is quick to note the support of her mentor teacher, Tamara Holey, and her School of Education intern supervisor, Darlene Bolfing, M.S.Ed., who helped her develop the skills and tools for effective teaching.

“Debbie took initiative and always went above and beyond what was required,” Holey said. “She was so creative and eager to share and implement her ideas into her lesson plans.”

Bolfing said Chou is “an excellent young educator who brings warmth and enthusiasm into the classroom, creating a very productive environment for her first-grade students.” She described Chou as a confident, conscientious and empathetic person and teacher.

Debbie Chou, B.S.Ed. '23
Debbie Chou, B.S.Ed., '23

Chou is a graduate student in the SOE’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction, pursuing an M.S.Ed. for Curriculum and Instruction while assistant teaching at Baylor’s pre-school, the Piper Center for Family Studies and Child Development.

Baylor University Texas Student Teacher of the Year Award Recipients*:

* No award was given in 2020 due to COVID-19.


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 100 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 the School of Education website to learn more.