Posted by William Nunnelley on 2010-07-02

Dr. Betsy Rogers, a former National Teacher of the Year known for her work with needy schools, has been named chair of the Teacher Education Department in Samford University’s Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies. 

Dr. Jean A. Box, education and professional studies dean, announced Rogers’ appointment, saying, “She brings a fresh perspective from the K-12 classroom to our nationally recognized teacher education program.”  It is effective July 1. 

Rogers, a Samford graduate and a classroom teacher for almost 30 years, taught first and second grade at Leeds Elementary School prior to her selection as National Teacher of the Year in 2003.  After receiving the award from President George W. Bush at The White House, she traveled the country talking with educators about her belief that the best way to improve education was to put the strongest teachers in the weakest schools. 

 “My whole issue is equity in education,” she said at the time.  “It’s unthinkable some children would not have the best facilities and a nurturing, safe environment.” 

After that year, she joined the staff at Brighton Elementary School, the “neediest school” in Jefferson County, as Curriculum Coordinator.  Under her leadership, Brighton began meeting the Alabama Department of Education’s annual Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards. 

In 2006 she became the School Improvement Specialist for Jefferson County, working with struggling schools across the district. 

Rogers said her work in high need schools for the past six years led her to accept the Samford position, which will enable her to help train the next generation of teachers.  “I know without a doubt the greatest factor for student success is an effective teacher,” she said. 

She added that she was “thrilled” to be returning to Samford, where she earned four teaching degrees.  “I am coming home with the hope of giving back to the profession I hold so dear,” she said. 

Rogers, a National Board Certified Teacher, earned her undergraduate degree in 1974 and completed advanced degrees in 1998, 2000 and 2002.  She is a third generation Samford student; her mother went to Samford and her grandparents met while attending the school.  Her son became the fourth generation of her family to graduate from Samford. 

Rogers taught at Leeds Elementary from the mid-1980s until her selection as National Teacher of the Year in 2003.  During her last several years at Leeds, she taught first and second-grade students in a process known as “looping.” 

She followed the same group of students through two years, monitoring the progress of first-graders as they moved into the second grade.  Among other benefits, this helped students learn to read at their own pace.  “All children do not bloom at the same time,” she said. 

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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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.