“The foolish man built his house upon the sand and the foolish man’s house went ‘splat’. But the wise man built his house upon the rock, and the wise man’s house stood firm”. You may recall this song from your childhood days in Bible class, complete with hand motions and children’s voices, as it was one of my earliest lessons to discover the significance of Christ as a firm foundation for the church.
The necessity of a firm foundation for a lasting structure has been evident since the dawn of construction. A cornerstone and a stable foundation is essential to any well-built structure. The LCU teacher education program has truly benefitted from skilled Christian educators that laid a bedrock foundation on which the program has grown from infancy, through adolescence, and now into young adulthood. Throughout all the growing pains – students have always been at the core of LCU’s success.
In the early “toddler” years it was an adventurous and exciting time. The original LCC charter in 1957 stated a purpose to train Christian preachers and teachers. Our founding fathers acted on a vision to create a learning environment where Christian educators could be prepared for service in both public and private schools. In 1970 a significant gift from Dr. and Mrs. W. A. Maddox provided for the construction of a state-of-the-art building and permanent “home” for the educator preparation program.
Those early years are full of stories where the faculty embraced and embodied our mission. Professors like Jerry and Janice Perrin were well know “champions” for the students. Dr. Perrin would often mentor young education students and take on the personal challenge to encourage, cajole, and guide them to success. One former faculty member recalls that Jerry was often “standing in and fighting on behalf” of an eccentric student. He believed that each and every person could be successful and he would stand up to represent them in challenging situations. Mary Joe Clendenin is also fondly remembered as a maternal figure in the early years. She was known to “adopt” college students whenever there might be a need and she would allow them to reside in her home. These men and women were obviously more than just professors, they were mentors and providers to LCC education students both in and out of the classroom.
As any parent knows, children eventually develop into those marvelous “teen” years as adolescents. During these years we see so much growth and physical maturation that it can be difficult to keep up with all of the changes. LCC grew to be a university in 1987 and the physical maturation was evident in her student body. The educator preparation program blossomed and the influx of students resulted in growth of the support staff and faculty. Dr. Joyce Hardin was integral to these developmental stages as she is remembered as a great visionary and “recruiter”. During her tenure she guided the program through many stages of growth and maturation. One of her former students remembers her as “passionate and creative”. She led by example and would accept nothing less than your best effort. As an example, Dr. Hardin would teach an entire lesson dressed in full traditional Korean attire in order to model the impact that a teacher can have on the learning experience. Her dedication did not stop in the classroom, she is remembered by many administrators as a defender of education on the LCU campus, and across the state of Texas. This passion and growth necessitated addition to the ranks and she was responsible for recruiting stalwart professors like Dub Hannel and Jean Hines.
Dr. Hannel recalls his first visit to the campus and a brief tour around the mall. He said, “there really wasn’t much here and the tour was very brief, but I knew this is where I wanted to be”. From the moment he entered campus, Dr. Hannel became engrained in our mission. Students would often comment on his loving nature and how he made them feel extremely valued. Early on he worked with the Secondary program but in the late 90s he spear-headed the launch of one of the first graduate programs at LCU. This dedication to Christian education continued as he fostered a vibrant course of studies to prepare Christian educational leaders. On countless occasions a potential graduate candidate would schedule an “informational” meeting with Dr. Hannel, only to leave his office a few minutes later as a fully registered graduate student. Students would say, “His passion is undeniable, and he inspires you to want to make a difference. He is so patient and caring that you want to be a leader just like him.”
That loving and caring nature was never more evident than in the heart and actions of Dr. Jean Hines. She began as a secretary for the Education department, became a certified elementary teacher, returned as a professor, and eventually chaired the Elementary department. At every stage of her career the student was always the primary focus. Her former students often recall the many characters that made appearances in her classes with the “History in Person” learning activity. To this day, we still receive pictures of LCU alum in their classroom dressed as the character of a learning unit. While creativity and instructional modelling were important, she was also well known for caring for the basic needs of her students. We all know that we cannot learn if we are hungry so it was standard policy that Dr. Hines would provide snacks for hungry college students to devour as they embraced the lesson of the day. Dr. Hines would often remind everyone in her class that we must care for the “whole” child. She exemplified this in her career while countless teachers were trained at her feet.
Those “teen” years evoke fond memories for students that were active members in Kappa Delta Pi honor society and the Student Education Association. Those organizations allowed education majors to engage with fellow students and professors to accomplish great works of service like “Literacy Alive” where members would organize a book donation drive and volunteer to read to children in local schools. These traditions survive today and the servant heart of an educator remains evident at LCU.
All parents eventually witness the maturation of their teenager to young adulthood. The current School of Education resembles that life-stage as our team currently consists of fifteen full-time faculty and staff, a multitude of programs, and over three hundred students. Graduate Education houses programs in educational leadership, superintendents, curriculum and instruction, and special education, while Undergraduate Education continues to train exemplary teachers for elementary, middle, and secondary schools.
If you walk the halls of the Education building today you will notice that many things have changed, but others remain the same. You might wander into the Media Center and smell the aroma of the laminator, or notice the bank of die cuts, or even stop to browse the children’s library. Undoubtedly, you will drift back to the days when you created copies on a mimeograph machine with messy blue ink, or overhead transparencies, or even hand-cut letters for bulletin board displays. The classrooms have been remodeled with Smart Boards, digital projectors, computer lecterns, and furniture arranged in learning pods. You will walk the halls with fond memories of days gone by, while enjoying the realization that the cutting-edge nature of your alma mater remains intact. Graduates from the LCU School of Education are still the favored candidate by our local school districts. One local principal says, “LCU graduates are still the preferred applicant. I want to hire teachers that come from LCU. I know what I’m going to get, and it is quality”.
Our current students, staff, and faculty continue to reap the benefits of founding fathers that laid such a strong base for the LCU School of Education. We continue to focus on students as the core of all decisions with the ultimate goal of training Christian educators for our schools. This strong “house” that has been erected over the past sixty years is a testament to passionate Christian educators who led by example. Ultimately, every student that is influenced by an LCU trained educator benefits from all those who have preceded us. The Lord has truly blessed the LCU School of Education and we give thanks to all who have labored here as His hands and feet. If it is God’s will, we look forward to continued growth and maturation as we pray for another sixty years of wonderful opportunities to train Christian educators.