Jeanette Parker – M.A., Elementary Education, 1971
1971 – M.A. – Elementary Education
I am Jeanette Parker, Professor and Director of the Center for Gifted Education at USL. I first attended USL in 1967, when I began working toward certification in elementary education. I later returned to USL as a graduate student, receiving my M.A. degree in Elementary Education in 1971, and later certification in Guidance and Counseling and Supervision of Student Teachers.
Although I attended USL as a part-time graduate student, I have memories that stand out in my mind from this period of my education. My earliest memory was the unhappy discovery that I would be required to complete all requirements for the Elementary Education degree, even though I had already completed a baccalaureate degree. (The fairly recent institution of the “alternate certification” option has eliminated this requirement, making it much easier for students with content-area degrees to become certified.) I also recall that, after ten years as an administrator of a local private school, I was distressed to learn that I would be required to do full-time student teaching. Fortunately, this story had a happy ending, as my outstanding supervising teacher made this initially unwelcome experience a most valuable one. The only other negative memory that remains in my mind is standing in line for registration. I laugh as I recall talking with Dr. Ed Dugas (at that time Director of Graduate Studies in Education) after a lengthy stay in line, and saying to him, “You know, Dr. Dugas, if I had met you under other circumstances, I think I might actually like you!” Good-natured as he was, he took my somewhat left-handed compliment in the spirit in which it was intended.
A number of things have changed since I first attended USL over 30 years ago. In addition to opportunities for alternate certification and more streamlined procedures for registration (who would ever have guessed in those days that students would register by telephone?), numerous changes have been made in the College of Education. Many of these changes have been driven by state certification. When I began my work at USL, a student selected either Lower Elementary or Upper Elementary Education. These divisions have changed numerous times over the years–from Lower/Upper to 1-8, back to Lower/Upper, and again back to 1-8. No doubt these changes will continue! At that time, the Science and Math methods were combined into one class, as were Social Studies and Language Arts. There was only one Reading class, and gifted education (my current field) was only one chapter in the general Special Education text. And, of course, computer education did not exist (as common folk such as teachers had no access to computers, one of which would occupy a very large room).
But I suppose the memories that are foremost in my mind are the people with whom I worked. I have already mentioned Dr. Ed Dugas, who served as Graduate Coordinator for some time. I have fond memories of Mrs. Gladys Robinette, who did an outstanding job of teaching social studies methods and chaired my thesis committee for my masters degree; and Mrs. Louise Mitchell, who gently and respectfully shepherded me through student teaching. In my Research class, Dr. Robert Blackmon worked us like slaves, but the writing of a “baby thesis” really taught us how to “do” research. I also remember Mrs. Maude Buckingham, who taught remedial reading; Joan Kane, who taught the general special education course and later became a colleague; Dr. Bud Ducharme who was Dean of Education when I joined the USL faculty; Dr. Charles Faulk who taught science methods; and Dr. Art Franklin who did an outstanding job of teaching measurement and evaluation. From the content courses that I was required to take, one name stands out: Dr. Vernon Behrhorst, who made the Geography of Louisiana (a course I dreaded to take) fascinating. And last, but far from least, I have vivid and very fond memories of Dr. Leon Beasley. Dr. Beasley presented his students with a unique “amalgam” of subject matter knowledge, dry wit, and demanding assignments. When I joined the USL faculty in 1979, Leon was my first department head. In this capacity, he was flexible, compassionate, and always a friend.
When I began this letter, I wondered how I would find two pages to write. Now, I find that I may have told more than one would want to know. These are the memories that most readily come to mind when I think of my days as a USL student; I hope that my sharing will help others to remember their good times from the past.