March 18, 2015
Two of Missouri’s best new teachers received their professional training from Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies.
Callie Beard, an elementary school teacher in the Lebanon school district, and Fernando Sustaita, a middle school teacher at Nixa, were recently given the Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award by the Missouri Association for Colleges of Teacher Education.
The recipients were selected based on evaluations of outstanding graduates completed by their college or university, and recommendations from the school districts where they teach.
“I was stunned, shocked and elated,” says Beard, who teaches social studies and communication arts to fifth graders.
After spending her first two years at another school, Beard switched gears seeking more financial flexibility and classes closer to her hometown of Lebanon. She took classes through Drury’s Springfield, St. Robert and Lebanon campuses. Many of her instructors were teachers in the immediate area.
“They could draw from their own personal experience,” Beard says. “They had classroom examples ready; they were familiar faces.”
Sustaita knows about switching gears, too. After 15 years in the business world, he decided to make a career change and become a teacher. Now in his second year at a seventh grade history teacher in Nixa, he also coaches three sports (cross country, basketball and track), drives busses for the teams, serves on school committees.
“When I want to do something, I go in 110 percent,” he says. “I don’t hold back.”
Seeing students succeed drives him, Sustaita says. And that’s the same kind of treatment he received from his professors when he was a student earning a Master of Education at Drury, he says. In fact, he still reaches out to them for advice and mentorship, even after graduation.
“I trust the education system there,” he says. “I trusted my advisors. And I know that wherever I’m going to go, people are going to look at that degree and hold it to a high standard.”
Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.