Baylor School of Education Honors Outstanding Seniors

  • Education seniors
    The Baylor School of Education honored Outstanding Seniors in Education Programs, left to right: Stephanie Limes (Lorena B. Stretch Outstanding Student in Elementary Education, Greenwood, Colo.), Alexa Samuel (EDICUT Preservice Educator of the Year Award, Spring, Texas), Rachel Carter (Award for Outstanding Student in Middle School Education, Austin, Texas), Sarah Johnson (Dolores Coker Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Student in Education, Benton Harbor, Mich.), Molly Walker (Award for Outstanding Student in All-level Education Programs, Houston, Texas), and Taryn Kelm (M. L. getting Award for Outstanding Student in Secondary Education, China Spring, Texas).
  • HHPR seniors
    The Baylor School of Education honored Outstanding Seniors in the programs in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, left to right: Taylor Shockey (All-level Physical Education, Chiang Mai, Thailand), Rachel Carson (Exercise Physiology, White Oak, Texas), Kelli Gunter (Athletic Training, Crowley, Texas), Jessica Livon (Recreation and Leisure Services, Westlake, Texas), Kacie Simpson (Health Science Studies, Cibolo, Texas), Ashley Broussard (Community Heath, New Iberia, La.), and not pictured Brett Doe (General Studies, Mesquite, Texas).
May 1, 2014

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Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, (254) 710-4656

WACO, Texas (May 1, 2014) — During the 29th Annual School of Education (SOE) Senior Recognition Banquet, the SOE honored outstanding seniors within the school and its various programs. Students were recognized not only for their accomplishments as undergraduates, but also for their preparedness to impact the world.

Of the 213 graduating SOE seniors, 15 were recognized as outstanding.

Alexa Samuel, of Spring, Texas, received the EDICUT Pre-Service Educator of the Year Award for her exceptional performances within and outside of the Baylor classroom. Also known as “The Dean’s Award,” this honor is presented at each private university education program in Texas by the Education Deans of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (EDICUT).

While serving as a teaching intern at Connally Elementary School, Samuel went beyond the classroom in working for the school. She and her mentor teacher co-sponsored UIL activities, introduced a “Watch D.O.G.S.” (Dads of Great Students) program, and wrote a successful grant for iPads in the classroom. She also tutored children after school, participated in a “Nachos and Numbers” night for math-related activities, and planned a field trip to the Baylor Symphony.

“Alexa continuously implements engaging, challenging and thought-provoking activities into her lessons,” said Samuel’s intern supervisor, Dr. Rachelle Rogers, assistant clinical professor in the SOE. “It has been my honor to watch her grow to become an excellent educator.”

Samuel will graduate in May with a degree in middle school mathematics. Samuel said she plans to teach after completing a graduate program in Curriculum and Instruction.

Sarah Johnson, of Benton Harbor, Mich., was the recipient of the Dolores Coker Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Student in Education Award, named for a former SOE professor. Phi Delta Kappa International is a professional education organization that seeks knowledge to better understand educational processes and gives support for universal public education.

While a student in the SOE, Johnson has demonstrated the organization’s values through her academics and also as an administrative mentor and executive student director for the Leadership Living Learning Center (LEAD LLC) from 2010 to 2014.

“Sarah Johnson is one of the brightest and best,” said Dr. Randy Wood, professor for Curriculum and Instruction. “She has learned to make extremely thoughtful and energizing lessons through our PDS program. I have had few students who want to and can provide such exceptional work.”

Johnson will graduate in May with a degree in middle grades English, language arts and reading.

John Bernhart, a student in Exercise Physiology in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation (HHPR) and the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, is the only senior who received two awards. Bernhart, from Morgantown, W.Va., received the Outstanding HHPR Student Service Award for his voluntary contribution to numerous service activities within Baylor and the Waco community. He was also the Outstanding Senior Man in HHPR in recognition for his academic accomplishments, service and contributions to others abroad.

Bernhart’s record of volunteer service includes Baylor’s Steppin’ Out, a mission trip to Guatemala, the Special Olympics, Mission Waco and Baylor Buddies. He has also served as the Hillcrest Hospital student chaplain, a Sunday school teacher, student tutor and mentor. Bernhart has been on the Dean’s List, received a Baylor Excellence in Student Involvement Award and the President’s Gold Scholarship, as well as becoming a member of both the Texas Chapter of American College of Sports Medicine and Exercise Science Student Association at Baylor.

“I want to continue to give back within the opportunities that God has given me,” Bernhart said. “We’re always learning, we’re always being taught, so, until the day I die, I hope that I’m constantly learning and teaching.”

After graduation, Bernhart will pursue a Masters of Public Health at Baylor.

Lynette Atkinson, an all-level physical education major from St. Louis, Mo., was awarded Outstanding Senior Woman in HHPR. Also known as “Coach A,” Atkinson made the Dean’s List every semester and was also named an Outstanding Student at Baylor’s Honor’s Convocation. She competed on the Baylor Track and Field team and served as a reading mentor at a local elementary school, a Life Group Leader at Antioch Community Church, Special Olympics volunteer, and track and field coach for children.

“I’ve just always been inspired by teachers who have spoken into my life and encouraged me,” Atkinson said. “This is so worth it.”

SOE seniors also received Outstanding Student Awards in specific teacher education programs:

Stephanie Limes

Lorena B. Stretch Award for Outstanding Student in Elementary Education

Major: Elementary Education

Hometown: Greenwood Village, Colo.

Taryn Kelm

M.L. Goetting Award for Outstanding Student in Secondary Education

Major: Secondary English, Language Arts and Reading

Hometown: China Spring, Texas

Rachel Carter

Award for Outstanding Student in Middle School Education

Major: Middle Grades Mathematics

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Molly Walker

Award for Outstanding Student in All-Level Education Programs

Major: All-Level Special Education

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Awards were also presented for each academic program to Outstanding Students in HHPR:

Kelli Gunter

Athletic Training

Hometown: Crowley, Texas

Jessica Livon

 Recreation and Leisure Services

Hometown: Westlake, Texas

Kacie Simpson

 Health Science Studies

Hometown: Cibolo, Texas

Rachel Carson

 Exercise Physiology

Hometown: White Oak, Texas

Taylor Shockey

 Physical Education All-Level

Hometown: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Brett Doe

 General Studies

Hometown: Mesquite, Texas

Ashley Broussard

 Community Health

Hometown: New Iberia, La.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 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 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education (SOE) prepares leaders through four departments in two broad program areas, Professional/Teacher Education and Health Education. Leadership preparation begins in undergraduate programs, continues through master’s level work, and culminates in both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs. The SOE impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning, and community-focused research in local and global contexts. The school shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice, and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.

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