Get to Know Our Teacher Education Program’s Newest Professor, Dr. Mistie Potts
After several months of serving as the Director of Alternative Programs and Partnerships in the School of Education at Grace, Dr. Mistie Potts was named Assistant Professor of Education at Grace, marking an exciting milestone in her career. With a love for imparting knowledge, fostering intellectual growth, and providing guidance and mentorship to students as an advisor, she is the type of professor every student in the teacher education program wants — assisting them in their academic and professional endeavors.
1. What led you to the field of education?
I did not know I would become a teacher until I went to college for my undergraduate degree. I was going to be an artist! I was in courses for visual arts for a semester, but I worried about the longevity and sustainability of a career in art. (This was the 90s, and the internet was still kind of emerging with accessibility, so I wasn’t aware of all the possibilities at that time.) I met with my advisor and decided I would become a dental hygienist instead. However, after rapidly exiting an A & P class where we were working on cadavers, I knew this field wasn’t for me. With more deliberation and advice from my weary advisor, I decided to pursue elementary education. I knew I could integrate my love of art and creativity in the classroom. After one semester, I was hooked. I related with students well and enjoyed employing creative ways to maintain engagement and unlock their understanding and potential.
2. What was your course of education to get you to where you are today?
I pursued my education at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in Kindergarten Education from Indiana University. In order to enhance my professional qualifications and renew my teaching license, I undertook several courses offered by esteemed institutions such as Purdue University and Colorado University. Then I enrolled at Ball State University where I completed a licensure program focused on high ability and gifted education. After initially pursuing training in School Psychology at Indiana State University, I chose to return to Ball State University instead to pursue a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. A few years later, I had the privilege of earning a PhD from Ball State University in Elementary Education with a special emphasis on Research and Gifted/High Ability Education.
3. What courses will you be teaching in Grace’s teacher education program? Which is most exciting to you and why?
I will be teaching Strategies for Mild Intervention, Responsive and Differentiated Instruction, Teaching Exceptional Learners, and Assessment, Evaluation, and Remediation in Special Education. It is difficult to choose which course excites me the most, but at this point, I would choose Strategies for Mild Intervention because candidates will create such meaningful artifacts to use in their careers, and I will have the opportunity to walk alongside candidates in clinical experiences each week.
4. During your first several months at Grace, you oversaw the new transition to teaching program – why is this offering so important?
This work is critical as it meets a need for our partnering schools as well as schools across the state. Qualified teachers and accessible teacher education programs are needed now! Not only are teachers leaving the profession in droves, but many are shifting their employment from difficult-to-staff schools to schools with more resources. At the same time, we have experienced an influx of teacher retirements alongside an upswing in student populations. All of these factors have contributed to a shortage of qualified licensed teachers across the country. Specifically in our own region, schools with fewer resources are in need of excellent teachers who will remain in their profession and provide consistency for the K-12 students being served. Circumventing the typical four-year teacher education program, our transition to teaching program offers a rigorous yet expedited pathway for qualified individuals to become licensed teachers.
5. What is your best piece of advice to a future teacher?
With 23 years of professional experience in education, I would recommend aspiring teachers to adopt a receptive mindset and eagerly absorb the wealth of knowledge and experiences shared by their more experienced colleagues. Instead of assuming the role of an authoritative figure, I would encourage them to embrace the role of a facilitator, fostering an environment conducive to learning. Establishing strong connections with students and their families is crucial, while also dedicating time to comprehend the underlying motivations behind students’ behaviors and choices.
6. How does your faith inform the way you teach in the teacher education program?
My faith has a profound impact on the way I teach. In the field of education, honoring diversity and inclusion is crucial for students of all types to be successful. In diverse educational settings, teachers must respect the beliefs and backgrounds of their students and maintain a neutral and inclusive environment that values diversity and fosters mutual respect. Yet, as an enthusiastic believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I feel driven to share the Good News with others. While I cannot overtly preach my specific beliefs to all students, my personal faith is exemplified through my teaching approach and philosophy. It guides how I prioritize virtues such as compassion, honesty, fairness, and respect in my interactions with students and colleagues.
7. What is a little-known fact about you?
I am an enthusiast about hunting for morel mushrooms. My joy lies in strolling along wooded trails, venturing into the secret hideaways nestled within nearby wooded areas, and uncovering these elusive fungi. The entire experience is not just tranquil, but it also evokes a meditative state as I search for these prized treasures. And of course, relishing the fruits of my labor by savoring the delectable bounty is an added pleasure!
If you can’t tell, Potts is moving into her new role with passion and purpose. Eager to share her expertise, inspire young minds, and make meaningful contributions to the realm of education, she’s the kind of educator that her students will aspire to be.