Published on January 29, 2018 by Sara Roman  
MSE Special Education

Three Orlean Beeson School of Education alumnae have been selected into the top ten for Jefferson County Teacher of the Year. Meghan Allen ‘09, Mandy Jayne (Stanley) Antwine ‘14, and Lindsay (Wiseman) Self ’14 were selected out of approximately 2500 teachers in the school system. All three graduated from the education school’s four-certification Early Childhood, Special Education, Elementary, Elementary Collaborative (ESEC) program and all three currently teach special education in Title I schools.

Meghan Allen currently serves as the exceptional education teacher at Minor Community School. She has been teaching special education for nine years and became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2013. “She is a committed teacher who believes in the importance of educating all students,” said Mandy Hilsmier professor and M.S.E. in Collaborative Special Education program director. “Her commitment to providing the best education possible to students with disabilities is an inspiration and I am so proud to call her a Samford graduate.”

Hilsmier teaches special education courses for multiple programs within the education school. When it is time for her students to embark on internship opportunities, she often pairs them with Allen. “She not only a great teacher, but a great mentor,” said Hilsmier. “Her passion for teaching transfers to the Samford students in her classroom and she teaches them alongside the students in her room.”

Mandy Jayne Antwine graduated from Samford’s ESEC program in 2014. Post-graduation, she was named the 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year by the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education and the Association of Teacher Education. Antwine is still the only Alabama student to receive the award. Currently, she is the lead exceptional education teacher and fourth-sixth grade exceptional education teacher at Brighton School. She is also a member of the Inaugural Jefferson County Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council.

“Watching my students progress, both academically and socially, provides me with the encouragement necessary to push myself to be the best teacher I can be,” said Antwine. “I try to be more than just a teacher to them, even if this means working with them before school, during my lunch/planning period or buying extra school supplies. I will do whatever it takes to make sure my students are equipped with the love, support, encouragement and knowledge necessary to make a positive impact on society.”

The third Samford alumni to receive the honor is Lindsay Self. Self is a special education instructor at Fultondale Elementary. She firmly believes that every person has the ability to learn. “No one is too far behind to make progress,” said Self. She has expectations for all of her students and works hard to push them toward their fullest potential in order to provide them with the preparation needed for college and career readiness.

Hilsmier states that seeing Self selected as a finalist for Jefferson County Teacher of the Year is no surprise. “She was highly professional as an undergraduate student and has maintained that level of professionalism in her work with students with disabilities and as a mentor teacher for our students,” said Hilsmier. “I recall Lindsay’s final student teaching presentation and how strong the data was that she presented. Her presentation was stronger than many of the doctoral dissertations I have observed. Her ability to use data to change her instruction and impact student learning is inspiring.”

The ESEC program certifies students in four areas: Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education, Elementary Education and Elementary Collaborative Education. The four certifications combined with over 1,000 hours of field experience and over 600 hours of internship experience leaves students highly qualified and prepared to enter their positions as early childhood, elementary or special education teachers.

“Graduates of Samford’s ESEC program are highly recruited and well-respected by area principals and superintendents,” said Karen Birkenfeld assistant professor and teacher education department chair. “Professors provide opportunities for students to develop their skills and grow their passion to become excellent teachers like these Education alumnae recognized in Jefferson County.  We are so proud of each of these young educators and the impact that they are making in the lives of their students.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.