Faculty Spotlight: Amy Hoagland
Position: Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction
Teaching at Samford since 2008
Bonus fact: Dr. Hoagland was the Sallie Mae National Teacher of the Year in 1991 while teaching at Leeds (Alabama) Elementary School.
Why do you teach? Why do you teach at Samford? I have wanted to teach since I was in elementary school. I feel that teaching is a spiritual gift and that the gift matures with experience. I consider it a privilege to teach at Samford and train teachers for the future. I take my role very seriously. One cohort of 30 Samford preservice teachers represents 600 children that will be impacted their first year teaching alone! That same cohort of teachers has the potential to impact 12,000 students over the course of their 20-year careers. What we do in teacher education influences every other academic discipline and profession. I am very grateful, however, that I can teach at a university where I can emphasize the importance of developing spiritual gifts and how the use of those gifts can have an everlasting influence.
What is one thing you want your students to know when they graduate from Samford? Isaiah 6:8-11 reads, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Whenever you serve, you will be judged. That can be incredibly difficult at times. But knowing that you were uniquely made for that reason will give you the fortitude to press on. Serving the Lord thrusts you in the spotlight. It separates you from others, which means that there will be those who will ridicule you or try to diminish your gifts or purpose. Work as hard as you can, knowing that your students desperately need you! There are those who will try and tell you that what you are doing doesn't matter. But, everyone remembers their teachers—all of them—good or bad, and they have changed who they are as people. They have poured into them and made an impact on their character as well as their profession. But, they did it not through anything spectacular—nothing showy—they did it through working hard and being there. Day in and day out. Talking to them. Loving them for who they are. Knowing them as a person and seeing them as the people they can be. Setting goals and helping them achieve them. Praising the good and correcting the bad. They were there when it rained, when it snowed or when they didn't feel well and a substitute wasn't good enough. That is not to say what other professions do is less important. It is just that they have a different purpose. They have been called to contribute differently and we all desperately need them too. But never let anyone tell you that what you are doing or training for is not important! You all are growing into leaders and mentors and trend setters in education, but you are also growing up and recognizing what it means to make an everlasting impact. Wake up every morning with the understanding that a simple word or a kind deed, something that you may deem insignificant, can live on in the hearts of your students forever.
What is your favorite non-Samford activity? Why? I have three girls—7th, 9th and 10th grades—who attend Westminster School at Oak Mountain. They are involved in cross country, track, soccer, theater, voice and piano, so the majority of my non-Samford time is spent chauffeuring them around to their various activities. I would not say driving is a favorite activity, but I am with my girls, which is my favorite hobby.
How did your background prepare you for your current role at Samford? I was selected my first year teaching to participate in an intensive mentoring program with Jefferson County schools. They were conducting research on effective strategies for mentoring first-year teachers. Through that program I was assigned a full-time mentor. It was an amazing experience for me professionally and personally. Of course, I developed professionally as a teacher, but more importantly for the role I play now I developed as a mentor. I saw how my mentor interacted with me and how she encouraged me to take chances and grow professionally. I feel that it was her influence that truly impacted me as a professor of preservice teachers. I taught at Leeds Elementary School at a time when the school was selected as a National Blue Ribbon School. We had an amazing award-winning faculty, [fellow Samford faculty member] Betsy Rogers being one of them. As a developing professional, their example was incredible.
How did you become involved with Trace Crossings Elementary School and why? [Samford’s] program has always valued clinical preparation. We provide candidates with more than 1,000 hours of clinical experiences. Several years ago, however, we felt that we wanted to be more intentional with those hours and provide our candidates with scaffolded support, meaning we would embed their clinical experiences and their course work in the school. We truly feel that the best way to train teachers is in a school and not necessarily on a university campus. With that in mind, we looked for a school that would allow several of our faculty members to be "in residence". Trace Crossings opened their doors to us four years ago, and it has been an amazing experience. Candidates and faculty are immersed in the school culture and serve in a variety of capacities including operating a morning tutoring program, planning school- wide events, collaborating with teachers and sharing data, etc. The benefits for both the school and our program are endless! We descend on the school in the fall and the teachers can't wait for what they call the "Samford invasion!”
What’s one thing that most students do not know about you? I love making hilarious videos with my children. I am a drama person so we make elaborate movies that are parodies of television shows. My fall back career was going to be a sketch comedy artist so I am living that out through my children.