It’s the late 1990s when Teri Lloyd gives up a fulltime teaching position at Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy in Houston to earn an MSEd at Baylor’s School of Education (SOE). She’s nervous on the first day as she leaves her apartment behind the Harrington House, just a block from campus. She looks out toward campus, and the etched words on Pat Neff calm her fears with the Psalm: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (119:105). It was then that Lloyd felt the safety and comfort of a home.
She intended to leave Baylor after completing her MSEd in 1999 but immediately began pursuing her EdD in the department of Curriculum & Instruction under the mentorship of associate professor Dr. Douglas Rogers. She fostered a keen interest in educational technology as she taught foundations courses, children’s literature, and technology classes while working on grant applications. Lloyd also worked part-time in the School of Education Media Center and as a Gifted and Talented teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School. She fell in love with Baylor as she took more coursework until 2007.
Lloyd said, “God leads you to where you need to be, and it’s not really about the successes and checkmarks along the way. Our success is about true happiness while making a difference. I left and I missed Baylor, but I knew I needed to do that for myself.”
Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy offered her a position as the elementary director, a position overseeing 13 teachers and 76 students. Lloyd decided that it was an opportunity to impact more lives through education, and with her she took her Baylor education.
“The greatest thing I learned from Baylor was the power of community,” Lloyd said. “I designed the (Smaller Scholars) program so the teachers needed to rely on and really work with each other to grow.”
Lloyd said she found a happy medium combining technology and Montessori method. The school now has a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) room that includes a 3D printer, an augmented reality sandbox, 40 tablets, LEGO robotics, and Osmos education game systems.
By 2011, nostalgia for the Baylor community and teaching in a classroom was nagging at Lloyd. She reached out to the SOE and found a teaching opportunity through University of Young People (UYP), a three-week summer program for gifted and talented students entering the 4th-12th grades. She specifically asked to work with the middle school and high school students, because they are not the age group with which she is most familiar, and that gives her the opportunity to stay connected with all age groups. She returns every year to Waco to teach UYP classes during her summer vacation.
She began with the UYP class “The Real Game of Life,” in which students interactively navigated through a virtual adult life, requiring them to call insurance agents, discover what social security is, pay taxes, etc. Lloyd expanded her curriculum to mystery scenarios with hidden clues around the room and a course focused on the brain and personality. Her most recent UYP course was the Breakout Box, a series of puzzles that students must solve to unlock multiple locks on a box.
“I feel like I will always come back to Waco,” Lloyd said. “It’s is a special place for me. Waco is my home away from home; It’s where I go to let everything go. When I think about moving back, I have to stop myself, because then Waco wouldn’t mean what it means to me when I get to come back.”
Lloyd’s love for Baylor is now over twenty years strong and continues to impact students lives as she visits and teaches every summer for UYP. She is already excited for next summer so she can trade out her vacation days for bright students and the Baylor School of Education.
“Being here and working with UYP gives me a desire to learn more, research, and implement these practices,” Lloyd said. “And when I leave, I go with the hope the students give me.”
— Story and Photos by Cameron Bocanegra