Dr. Rhonda Atkinson
I’m proud to say that I’m from the great state of Arkansas and I was on the faculty at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge for about 20 years and at Central Missouri State University (CMSU) for about 7 years. Although I have taught undergraduate and graduate education students, most of my higher education experience concerns the development of reading and learning strategies in first-year students. This provides me with an excellent background for teaching education courses because I have had broad experiences in a number of content areas. I enjoy curriculum development and instructional design. I am a full-time professor and I teach courses in the Educator Preparation Institute as well as for undergraduate teacher education. Of all the places, I’ve taught in the past and the jobs I’ve had, I think Valencia is my favorite. It is a great place to teach with wonderful colleagues and terrific students.
My undergraduate degree in Elementary, Special, and Early Childhood Education is from the University of Central Arkansas as is my Master’s degree in Learning Disabilities. My Ph.D. is in Educational Curriculum and Instruction (reading emphasis) from LSU.
Something about my teaching style. . . I’m pretty much a big picture person—details are not as important to me. Therefore, I am pretty flexible and not a big stickler for details. What does this mean for you?
• First, it means that every assignment, quiz, and activity has a point. I’m an extremely practical person and I want to give you as much information that you can actually use in teaching as possible.
• Second, it means that I’m not always as organized as I would like to be—although that is a continual goal! Therefore, you may find a few typos in the materials or in the assignments on Blackboard Learn. If you are a very organized person, you may find that I’m not as specific about details of assignments as you would like. Just ask me and I’ll try to provide more information until you feel comfortable with the assignment or activity.
• Third, you will soon discover that I don’t know everything, but I almost always know where to find answers or who might have the answers. I see my role as helping you know where to find answers for yourself and helping you develop the content knowledge and expertise you need for future classroom experiences. There are a couple of perspectives of the role of faculty in higher education: the sage on the stage vs. the guide on the side. I try to be the guide on the side.
• Fourth, as stated earlier, I’m not psychic. If you need something or don’t understand something, please tell me—otherwise, I won’t know.
• I directed a summer experience for Upward Bound students at Florida Southern College and met a wonderful business professor there: Dr. Craig Bythewood. He said, “If you know what you are doing, you’ll always have a job. . . if you know why you are doing it, you’ll always be in charge.” I thought that statement had a lot of application to teaching; therefore, I will try to provide you with a lot of the “whys” behind what I do.
Your first few classes in education may seem a bit overwhelming and you may even have a few second thoughts about your ability to succeed as a teacher—that’s to be expected. Please keep in mind that you don’t have to know everything at once. If you aren’t already a lifelong learner, you will become one as a teacher as you continue to acquire and refine your teaching strategies and skills. Here’s what I also know: Over 30 years of experience in higher education tells me that if you are here, you (YES, YOU) have the capacity to be successful in the course and in future courses here at Valencia and beyond. Perception is reality and your thoughts as well as your actions will determine your future success. I look forward to having you as a student. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.