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Teacher Feature: Shawna Hight
B.S. in Computer Science (2000); M.S. in Teaching, Learning and Leadership with an option in reading and literacy (2017)
Current School Site:
Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy (Tulsa Public Schools)
Language Arts and Social Studies (Fifth grade)
Number of Years Teaching:
Why did you decide to become an educator?
After a long career in computer science and technology, I decided I wanted to become an educator. While I loved the idea of creating new things, I found more joy from helping students create. What started as a part-time volunteer assignment soon became a full-time career that I love.
How did your graduate degree prepare you for teaching?
I initially planned to be a math teacher, but my studies in literacy have helped me fall in love with teaching reading and given me the tools to help my students excel in math through increased literacy skills. I teach in a culturally diverse and performance driven environment. The knowledge I gained at OSU has helped me effectively reach a wide variety of cultures by providing culturally sensitive instruction and literature. I’m more comfortable advocating for the needs of my students because I use proven strategies and methods in the classroom. I’m also a more effective teacher-researcher, and I’m more confident in my ability to develop my own methods to guide my students.
What stands out to you most about your time at OSU?
I’ve always been a proud Cowboy! The investment faculty make in students in incredible. My professors had a personal stake in my success and celebrated my victories, but they also stood beside me in my struggles.
What are you current research projects?
Last month, I attended and hosted round table discussions with Dr. Sheri Vasinda, associate professor in literacy education. We talked about giving students a voice in a time where the differences between fact and opinion are often hard to discern. I’ve been researching the impact of giving students a space to investigate speculation about topics without requiring them to take ownership of an opinion. It has been an eye-opening experiment and has helped remove the barrier of shame for students who seek an opportunity to either prove or disprove the ideas and potential truths they hear and read.
For what do you advocate when it comes to education in Oklahoma?
I believe we need increased funding in marginalized and low-income areas so students and families receive assistance with childcare, tutoring and family counseling. I advocate for culturally sensitive standards and curriculum. We need resources to help every child be successful.