On any given school day, you are likely to find Santa Rosa County Teacher of the Year, Jeffery Baugus, singing with his eighth graders at Woodlawn Beach Middle School in Gulf Breeze, Fla. Or maybe he will be wearing tin foil accessories and rapping about multiplying binomials in his Algebra I classes. Baugus is not afraid to push the boundaries of traditional teaching techniques. In fact, he flips a few of them right over.
Baugus earned a B.A. in Interpersonal Communication from the University of South Alabama in 2004. In 2010 he completed his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from UWF. “My favorite instructor was Dr. Charles Aplin,” said Baugus. “He taught a majority of the courses I took and was one of those teachers who made you want to come to class each night.” Dr. Aplin creates a relaxed, student-centric atmosphere in his classroom, often reading aloud children’s books that relate to the content he is teaching. “I found the experience soothing and thought provoking,” recalled Baugus. “I often try to connect difficult material to elementary material to achieve the same effect.”
His time at UWF taught Baugus that effective learning requires focusing on the students themselves. “In addition to speaking about objectives, standards, and problem solving strategies, teachers should provide a open environment for students to explore material for themselves, working in small groups.” By allowing his students to actively discover knowledge on their own, Baugus boosts their self-confidence and motivates them to take on new challenges. “Constructivism is a powerful teacher. Give students a creative, engaging atmosphere and you’ll generate a catalyst for impressive gains in student comprehension.”
Baugus creates student engagement by employing several unconventional tactics. He uses a flipped classroom model, recording his lectures on video that the students view at home online or on DVDs. Students thus work at their own pace, and can pause and rewind to go over difficult concepts. This leaves the time students spend in the classroom for actively working on the problems, with Baugus walking among them and giving one-one-one attention to immediately resolve any issues that arise.
Baugus also uses many popular cultural references to keep his students interested. He writes algebra-themed lyrics to the tune of Justin Beiber songs, and groups his students into Harry Potter-style “houses” that compete for points throughout the school year. “I find that it causes students who may be zoning out to begin to refocus on the discussion,” said Baugus. “Then I swing it back to academic rhetoric and I’ve recaptured my audience.” But rapping about math is more than just a tactic for grabbing a student’s attention. By associating the lessons with these cultural references, the students retain the information and more effectively commit it to memory. Baugus only has to recite the first word or two of the mnemonic devices and the students recite the rest of it in unison.
Baugus has also harnessed the younger generation’s obsession with social media to improve their performance at school. He uses Edmodo, an education-specific, free service that allows students and teachers to discuss assignments and new concepts. Parents can log in to keep up-to-date with their children’s progress, and students get the instantaneous feedback that they have come to expect in our increasingly wired society.
When Baugus was named the Santa Rosa County 2013 Teacher of the Year, he was offered the chance to travel wherever he wanted. Baugus took the opportunity to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, the highly acclaimed, nonprofit middle school in Atlanta, Ga. “Student achievement there is through the roof and it isn’t hard to see why,” said Baugus. “The few tricks I learned during my visit have already paid dividends in my classroom this year.”
The College of Professional Studies at UWF is proud to count Jeffrey Baugus among our alumni. He is making a real impact in our community, and empowering his students with the confidence that will carry them forward for the rest of their academic careers.
To find out more about the Teacher Education programs available through COPS, please visit uwf.edu/education.
Colleen Glaude received her Master’s of Education in Instructional Technology (IT) from UWF in 2012. She is now Dean of IT and a teacher at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Ga. She has been a teacher for over 20 years, and conducts seminars and presentations nation-wide to assist educators in implementing effective technology programs.
Glaude is using the skills she learned at UWF to change the way students learn. “The IT program's content provided me with a strong foundation,” said Glaude. “I use what I learned to help me design, develop, implement, and evaluate instructional solutions to the organizational performance problems that I face on a daily basis.” Glaude also gives credit to the IT program at UWF for improving her communication skills. She learned to use a variety of technological tools to connect with clients, end-users, and her peers. “What I valued most was how the program prepared me for the ethical conflicts that are found in my profession,” added Glaude. “I learned how to work effectively with others to accomplish difficult projects.”
Glaude chose the completely online program at UWF because it allowed her to balance her busy professional life with the demands of graduate school. “I was amazed at how well I came to know the faculty within my program, and how much they were able to come to know us as students,” said Glaude. She found that the online program encouraged networking and personal interaction with her classmates, leading to a deeper understanding of the materials. “We were able to collaborate and share with one another- it was truly an open learning environment that expanded our knowledge base.” Glaude particularly enjoyed the Emerging and Innovative Technology Systems course, taught by Dr. Pam Northrup. “The course allowed us to explore new technologies and innovations that can be used in instructional strategies to promote performance and learning.”
Glaude also benefited from the variety of industries that are explored in the IT program. “Initially, when teaming or collaborating with my peers, I often connected with classmates who were in my chosen field of education,” Glaude recalled. “Now, in practice, I find that the methods and solutions that I apply often link back to projects, discussions, or presentations from my colleagues who were in military, healthcare and business fields.” Glaude advises current students to embrace their colleagues from other industries and backgrounds. By looking at problems from a different perspective, Glaude is able to develop strategies that utilize new technologies to transform teaching and learning.
To learn more about the Master’s of Education in Instructional Technology at UWF, please visit uwf.edu/cops/innovation.
In December 2012, Paula Lannes graduated from UWF with her master’s degree in Criminal Justice. Paula dreams of being accepted into a PhD program in Criminal Justice so that she can become a university professor and continue to research topics that she believes are important and interesting. During her graduate program at UWF, Paula had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in research on child pornography cases. She and her mentor Dr. Matt Crow, Chair of the Department of Justice Studies, conducted research and presented it at the Southern Criminal Justice Association’s annual meeting in the fall of 2012. They presented their work, “Sentencing in Child Pornography Cases” at a poster presentation at the conference. For Paula, this experience was invaluable as she prepares for her future goal of earning her PhD. She and Dr. Crow are now preparing the manuscript for publication, and she knows that publishing research will be helpful as she applies to graduate school.
Paula chose the UWF graduate program for several reasons. First, she obtained her undergraduate degree at UWF and she had a very positive experience. But she also chose the program because of the small class sizes and the rigor of the graduate seminar classes that she took. As she explains, “Graduate seminar classes facilitate learning through effective teaching and help students to develop and improve their ability to think critically.” Paula values the opportunity she had to get to know and work with her professors very closely outside of the classroom on important research regarding the courts and sentencing practices. These personal and professional relationships have been extremely valuable to her.
While she was enrolled as a graduate student, Paula earned an appointment as a graduate assistant. In this position, she was able to assist faculty members with their teaching and research endeavors. As a graduate assistant, Paula earned a stipend that helped to defray the costs of graduate school. In addition to all of this, Paula had the unique opportunity to serve as the assistant coach of the UWF Women’s Soccer Team. While she served as assistant coach, the team won a national championship. Paula believes that her experiences at UWF have prepared her well for her future.
For more information about the Master’s Program in Criminal Justice, please visit uwf.edu/justice.
Bessie Reina earned her BA in International Studies, Political Science/Pre-Law from UWF in December of 2007. She continued at UWF and earned her MSA in Public Administration in August of 2010.
She is currently working on a second master’s at Florida State University (FSU) in Urban and Regional Planning. “During my course of study at the UWF College of Professional Studies, Dr. Tankersley helped me obtain an internship at the West Florida Regional Planning Council,” said Reina. This internship experience gave her a broad overview of the many factors involved in transportation planning, and reaffirmed her desire to enter the field of urban and regional planning. “Many urban planning jobs are in the public sector, so the courses I took in public administration at UWF pair well with my urban planning courses.”
Reina highly recommends that UWF students pursue multiple and varied internships. “Not only will this lead to more references and a stronger resume,” she relates, “but having these experiences will also allow students to get more out of their coursework and explore the different subsets of their chosen field.”
In spring of 2011, Reina attended workshops held by the FSU Department of Graduate Fellowships. She then developed her proposal and personal statement over the summer, and spent two weeks in the southeastern European country of Bulgaria. “Walking around the streets of [the capital city of] Sofia,” Reina recalls, “I was impressed by how pedestrian-friendly the city is and how it seems to be designed around the metro, buses, and trollies.”
Growing up near the Naval Aviation Station in Pensacola developed Reina’s desire to travel at an early age. “I grew up listening to people reminisce about the various ports they visited while they were serving abroad. These stories kindled my desire to see the world.”
In March of 2012, Reina was notified that she had been selected for a US Student Fulbright award for research in Bulgaria. This prestigious honor will afford Reina the opportunity to study the sustainable and innovative practices that have been implemented in Bulgaria. “While in Sofia, I noticed many of the ideal transit planning practices and technologies I had studied in my classes,” said Reina, “however, Sofia is under-appreciated for its success in these areas.” With the Fulbright grant, she hopes not only to develop her academic and professional career, but also to bring back and share with others what she has learned abroad. In May of 2012, Reina was awarded an Outstanding Alumni Award by the UWF College of Professional Studies based on her outstanding academic accomplishments.
To learn more about the MSA program at UWF, please visit the MSA Web page.
Heather Kennedy graduated magna cum laude from the University of West Florida in 2007 with a dual degree in Legal Studies and Communication Arts. While at UWF she received the faculty award for Excellence in Legal Studies in 2006 and the Outstanding Legal Studies Graduate in 2007.
She then went on to the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia where she was honored with the Faculty Legal Writing Award and served on law review. She graduated with honors in May 2011, and then passed the Florida Bar exam. The Panama City firm of Harrison Sale McCloy hired Kennedy where she now specializes in real estate law, public education law, and local government law.
"There were so many times during the first year of law school when I reflected on how much of an advantage I had when I started because of the legal studies curriculum at UWF," said Kennedy. She credits the substantive courses she attended in the Department of Justice Studies at UWF with providing her an understanding of core legal concepts that made her transition into law school less intimidating than it otherwise would have been. "While most of my classmates had never even heard of a reporter or written a case brief, I had knowledge and experience with both of these, as well as with the Socratic method that all law school classes use."
"In particular, the areas of study where I most noticed the advantage were in legal research and writing," Kennedy shared. While she admits that, at the time, they were "no one’s favorite courses," she was grateful for them once she realized how important these skills are to the study and practice of law. "I was leaps and bounds ahead of my classmates when it came to those key components. Fortunately, our professors held us to high standards at UWF and made us learn the basics from the beginning."
Kennedy was also an active member of the UWF Mock Trial Team. "We worked really hard and spent a lot of hours at the school long after everyone else had gone home," Kennedy recalls, "but it all paid off when we got our chance to go to competitions and showcase what we had practiced and do well in competitions." Kennedy also participated in projects that helped fund the creation of the mock trial courtroom while she was at UWF. "It was still a distant dream when I was there, and I would love to come and see it now."
For current and future students of Justice studies, Kennedy offers this advice: "Take advantage of your legal research and writing training. I know they require the most work and they can be arduous, but time invested in those classes at UWF will pay off ten–fold when you get to law school." She also whole–heartedly recommends getting involved with the Mock Trial Team. "My experiences there taught me practical lessons and an understanding of evidentiary rules and trial strategy that I could not have gained anywhere else."
For more information on the programs available in the Department of Justice Studies, please visit uwf.edu/cops.