Get to know your professors at WBU
Here at Williams Baptist University, we consider ourselves more of a family than simply a University. We pride ourselves in our ability to form close relationships between students and professors through Christ-centered education. This blog is created to help alleviate some of the stress incoming freshmen may be feeling when transitioning to college classes. After getting to know your professors at Williams, not only will the task of tackling college coursework become less daunting, it will be easier to form a close relationship with your professors in order to gain the best college experience possible. (Going to them for help when you need it won’t be nearly as intimidating!)
Professor: Laura Wooldridge
National Board Certified Teacher 2008-2018,
Early Childhood Education B.S.E.– Arkansas State University
Curriculum and Instruction M.Ed. – Arkansas State University
Classes Taught: Introduction to Teaching, Methods and Classroom Management, Emergent Literacy, Reading Instruction: K-6, Reading in the Content Area, Field II, Social Studies in the Classroom, Language and Literacy: K-8, Intern Supervisor
This is Professor Wooldridge’s second year at WBU. She has used her wealth of experience, along with her passion for teaching and making a difference, to create a fun and positive learning environment for students pursuing a career in education.
An interview with the professor herself!
What made you want to become a professor at WBU?
My sister attended WBU and loved the family atmosphere Williams provides. I LOVE working with future and beginning teachers. When I read the job description, I felt like I could have written it! During my interview, I felt an immediate connection to our chair, Dr. Wheeless. The content of the courses I was offered to teach has brought complete joy for 18 years!
What is your teaching philosophy and class management style?
I want to be an educator for so many reasons, but they all boil down to the fact that I want to make a difference. Students of any age have so much potential and so much to overcome. I believe that a teacher of excellence can not only make a difference in class, but an impact that can last a lifetime. I hope to be a teacher that can contribute to each student’s life is at least one positive way. My beliefs about teaching can be summed up with these words of Jesus. In Luke 15: 8-10, Jesus says,
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
These verses represent my thinking because I hope that no matter who cannot find their way, who struggles with reading or writing, who cannot control their behavior, who has no one to take care of them, that I will be there to support each other student’s growth. I know that teaching is hard work, and finding strategies to meet each student’s needs is difficult at times, but I always remind myself, every student is worth my time and work! I hope that I build a classroom culture where everyone feels they belong. I long to build a class family with every class I teach. I not only want each student to feel connected to me, but I also want each student to feel connected to the other. I hope to build a safe space and present myself as a safe keeper.
To achieve my goal of making a difference and being a teacher of excellence, I intentionally plan to integrate specific mindsets and strategies into my classroom. First, I hope to model and instill a growth mindset in my students. I want every student to know that there is always the potential for growth. I put an enormous amount of time into planning for engagement. It is so important for teachers to not only be strong in their knowledge of content but to also be very versed in knowing how to ensure students are truly learning information. For years, I have studied how the brain learns and what teachers need to do to make learning stick. My classroom approach incorporates all of my learning and is focused on my students! My classroom management style can be summed up with three characteristics- set high expectations, plan for the engagement, and plan for every minute and more!
What are the benefits of teaching smaller classes?
I can get to know my students on a much deeper level.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Hmmm, this is a hard one. There is so much I love about teaching. I would say I really enjoy watching my students realize they learn so much when they are having fun and active. It brings me great joy to see the learning that sticks!
What made you want to pursue the profession?
As a young child, I dreamed of being a teacher. I made a corner of my bedroom a classroom, my closet became a library organized with a card catalog made of index cards. Almost every female in my family was or is a teacher. I heard conversations about classrooms and even helped my family members create their classrooms when back to school time arrived. My childhood dreams were confirmed in high school and in college. I was influenced by an amazing math teacher named Nona Sue Hill. She showed me that teaching was not all about the subject matter, it was truly about reaching and then teaching students’ hearts. She touched mine, and her role in my life is most likely the main reason I chose education. In college, my decision to teach was affirmed by my happiness in classes. I felt at home when I entered my education classes.
How do you incorporate your Christian worldview into your lesson?
I encourage my students to view teaching in any school they will encounter as the mission field. Whether they teach in a wealthy private school or a public school, there are many students who need them! I also encourage my students to build relationships like crazy, teach their hearts out, and support their students. I encourage them to shine their lights!
Have you taught anywhere before coming to WBU? If so, how did that experience help you in your teaching here?
It is amazing to think about how all of my teaching experience has prepared me to teach at WBU. I began my career as a fourth-grade teacher at Rector Elementary. After three years, I became a third and fourth-grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary in Paragould. Three years later, I became an Instructional Facilitator for Greene County Tech in Paragould. Then I entered an amazing job where I grew tremendously. For eight years, I trained teachers and worked with administrators as a School Improvement Specialist and a Content Specialist. I worked in K-12 schools all across Arkansas to help improve their schools. My main focus was training and supporting first-year teachers. This gave me a fantastic view of what teacher candidates need to learn in college!
What advice can you give incoming freshmen?
Step out of your comfort zone! Meet people! Talk! You may just meet people that will become lifelong friends!
What activities or hobbies do you do outside of work?
I travel, read, and paint.
If you had to pick another profession, what would it be?
I would be a travel agent.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
What can students expect from you during class?
My students can expect to be very involved. They will most likely be engaged in partner or small group work, up and moving at some point or creating something. They should also expect to walk away with an idea for their classroom or a new piece of content knowledge!