UAB Alumni Serve As Alabama’s Top Teachers
By Javacia Harris Bowser
Alabama Teacher of the Year is much more than a title on a plaque. It’s a reward that carries great responsibility for the winning educators, who become the voice of teachers across the state. Here, three UAB School of Education alumni who have received the prestigious honor describe their time as education advocates.
Changing the Conversation
Since May 2013, when Alison Grizzle, Ed.D., became Alabama Teacher of the Year, she has met with students, fellow teachers, colleges, chambers of commerce, and school officials statewide, speaking at events focusing on everything from leadership to curriculum standards. It’s a demanding schedule for the math teacher at Birmingham’s Jackson-Olin High School, who earned her master’s in education at UAB in 1999. But it’s worth it if she can help change the national conversation about education, Grizzle says.
“There’s been a move over the last few years to paint teachers as part of the problem,” she says. “That’s not helping us recruit the youngest and brightest to the field. If we want our schools to remain competitive globally, we need the best in the classroom. We need people fighting to be teachers.”
Grizzle also would like to see measures of teacher performance that don’t simply rely on test scores. That would help avoid what Grizzle calls “painful” messages. Labeling a school as “failing” because it doesn’t reach particular benchmarks can discourage students and faculty when the school actually is improving, she notes. She also worries about the impact of such messages on the educational aspirations of students in poverty.
“I hear how American schools are failing, but we focus on educating all children,” Grizzle says. “Some countries we praise for education don’t provide it for everyone, so we’re comparing apples to oranges.
"If we want our schools to remain competitive globally, we need the best in the classroom. We need people fighting to be teachers.”
First Steps for a New Generation of Cancer Leaders
By Gail Allyn Short
UAB School of Public Health student, who was winding up his master’s degree in epidemiology, heard a professor talking about an intriguing UAB training program that provides cancer research experiences for graduate students in the schools of Medicine, Public Health, Dentistry, and Nursing.Michael Behring, M.S.P.H., had never considered a career as a cancer researcher. But one day, the
Behring says he was looking for just such a challenge. “I wanted to find a high goal and make a worthwhile contribution,” he says. Behring signed up for the UAB Cancer Research Experiences for Students (CaRES) program, a paid summer research training internship, and was hired by UAB epidemiologist Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D., his master’s program adviser, who was studying the genetic and molecular epidemiology of multiple myeloma. Under her mentorship, Behring recruited and interviewed patients, helped conduct data analysis, interacted with oncologists and epidemiologists, and performed administrative tasks associated with the research.
Now a doctoral student in epidemiology, Behring says the experience has helped him decide to become a cancer epidemiologist. “The program gave me a roadmap to figure out how to do cancer research and what it takes to participate in it,” he says. “It has given me good connections with different people and affirmed what I like about cancer research. Programs like this are one reason I stayed at UAB.”
Student Film Preserves a Unique Birmingham Story
By Clair McLafferty
Clarence Lockett started out as a theatre student focusing on screenwriting. But it was a true-life story that pulled him into filmmaking and changed his college and career goals.
He has always been a good storyteller, he says, and naturally took to screenwriting, but after transferring to UAB from Miles College, he began taking filmmaking classes in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences to try to capture real stories.
“Films can ignite discussion,” says Lockett, who graduated in December 2013 with a degree in Film and Media Studies. “They may not change things immediately, but they can get people on the paths to helping in a positive way.”