Courtesy of Dr. Paula Calderon
The dean of the College of Education, Dr. Paula Summers Calderon, was chosen to act as president of the Louisiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
After serving as president-elect for one year, Calderon officially became president of LACTE in May 2020 and will serve a two-year term.
An educator with 30 years of experience, Calderon has worked in both K-12 and higher education. She was named the dean of the College of Education in 2017.
Calderon shared her initial reaction on discovering that she would serve as president.
“I was both surprised and honored to be chosen by deans and directors from other universities as president-elect,” recalled Calderon. “I was humbled by their confidence in me.”
LACTE is the state chapter of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. State chapters provide teacher educators with the opportunity to network with others and discuss issues related to education in their specific state.
“The president coordinates this group of leaders who meet monthly to address current issues in education,” explained Calderon. “We discuss our programs and try to help each other with strategies to prepare high-quality teachers and recruit more students into education. We advocate for education in general, and we also advocate for university teacher education programs, as we feel teachers completing university programs are better prepared than teachers who have completed fast-track, non-university programs.”
There are multiple ways to become teacher certified, but more than three-fourths of students who became teachers in the last ten years completed a university program, according to Calderon.
“Over the past decade (2008-2018), Louisiana universities prepared 77% of all students completing teacher education programs,” stated Calderon. “The remaining 23% completed programs offered by non-university providers. We are involved in many of the decisions made by the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Department of Education that directly affect our students.”
Calderon shared that the university is responsible for training and educating a large portion of K-12 teachers in Louisiana.
“Southeastern’s College of Education is the third-largest producer of PreK-12 teachers among the universities located in Louisiana,” mentioned Calderon. “In the University of Louisiana System, Southeastern is the second-largest producer of certified teachers. When state-level decisions are made, Southeastern has quite a big interest in those decisions.”
As president, Calderon hopes to be an advocate for teachers and to represent students as well as educators.
“Over the past few years, the LACTE membership has been trying to become better advocates for the education profession and teacher education profession, and I hope to continue this trend,” shared Calderon. “We represent the students in our programs and provide a service to them by being present at BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) meetings and speaking on behalf of our students.”
Dr. Colleen Klein-Ezell, head of the Department of Teaching and Learning, believes Calderon makes a great leader because of her professional manner and work ethic.
“Dr. Calderon respects our faculty and students, which creates a welcoming learning environment,” said Klein-Ezell. “She is also very professional, organized and is always prepared. Dr. Calderon’s communication skills are exemplary whether she is talking with a student, a colleague, or someone in an administrative position.”
Klein-Ezell mentioned that Calderon’s ability to work as a team makes her a good fit for a position that will focus on issues that affect so many students and teachers.
“Dr. Calderon is a great fit to serve as the LACTE president due to her effectiveness as a shared decision-maker,” shared Klein-Ezell. “As a leader, Dr. Calderon focuses on teamwork and listening to others in order to build ‘community.’ This provides opportunities for others to share in the responsibilities of making informed decisions and plans.”
In addition to working with educators, Calderon aims to aid local school districts by encouraging Louisiana graduates to stay and work in the state.
“We also provide a service to the state of Louisiana by promoting Louisiana teachers and Louisiana schools,” noted Calderon. “Our graduates are talented enough to teach in any state that recruits them. Louisiana’s children need our graduates to teach in Louisiana. What can we do, as a group of teacher education leaders, to help our school districts entice our graduates to teach in their schools? Perhaps I can answer that question during my presidency.”