On the last day of his first year as a teacher, Blaine Broderick’s, ’14, classroom was ready for summer: Chairs were stacked on tables, books were corralled in plastic tubs, the dry erase board was clean.
His fourth and fifth graders were at an end-of-year assembly, giving Broderick, a special education teacher at Summit Intermediate in Nixa, time to reflect on a great start to his career.
In spring 2015, he won a Missouri Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award from the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. The group gives out about 60 of these awards each year.
Watching students succeed
Broderick said he was fortunate to be selected but is just as proud of the progress he has seen from his students this year.
“In special education, school goes beyond curriculum. They are learning to interact socially with adults and peers.”
For example, one fifth-grade boy started the year at a first-grade reading level — negative behavior had gotten in his way.
“He and I connected very early in the year, and his reading went up,” Broderick said. “I never speak down to my students or belittle them. I’m not a yeller. Instead of going straight for the usual punishment, we talked about what he did and why it was wrong, and how to do it better the next time.”
Broderick also helped a fourth grader who was harming himself and others.
“I went over situations with him before they happened in the classroom. He would practice good behavior, and then he would go do it. After that one-on-one interaction, I’ve hardly had to get on to him — and his reading level shot straight up.”
Broderick’s passion for working with special education students started when he was a high school athlete.
From athlete to teacher
“My senior year, my basketball coach asked me to take his P.E. class.” An eighth-grader with cerebral palsy who used a wheelchair would be in the class, and the coach wanted Broderick to mentor that student.
“We hit the ground running — doing activities together, playing sports. I modified any game we played so he could participate and get everything he could out of it.”
That bond grew into a career ambition. At MSU, he found excellent mentors.
“Missouri State is phenomenal at teaching behavior management, techniques and strategies,” he said. “The rigor of Missouri State special ed is comparable to the best programs across the country.”
The feeling of admiration is mutual: Broderick was nominated for his award by Missouri State’s College of Education.
“Blaine was outstanding in our program,” said Dr. Tamara Arthaud, head of the department of counseling, leadership and special education. “He was not only strong academically, but was a leader in student organizations and did a lot of volunteer work. We checked with his principal at Nixa, and she thought he was very deserving of this award. She and I both wrote letters of recommendation.”
This year, Broderick is working with sixth graders. He hopes to stay in special education for a few years, then teach in mainstream classrooms, then move into administration. He is currently studying for a master’s in educational administration at Missouri State and expects to graduate next year.
“I think a teacher can have one of the biggest impacts — if not the biggest impact — on a student’s life,” he said. “I know everybody can pinpoint at least one or two teachers that made them say, ‘I love coming to school.’ I do hope to be in the top one or two teachers in a few kids’ lives.”
MSU had two outstanding beginning teachers
A second Missouri State alumnus also won an Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award in spring 2015. Trey Allen is a 2013 graduate of the physical education program in the department of kinesiology. At the time of the award presentation, he was in his second year of teaching physical education at Wilder Elementary in Springfield.