Q&A with UM School of Education Professor Cynthia Erickson

Sydney SnowEducation, Faculty Q&A, Graduate, News

“A teacher touches the lives of many,” says Dr. Cynthia Erickson, associate professor of education and special education specialist in the University of Mobile School of Education.

Why is she passionate about teaching future teachers at this Christ-centered university?

“Sharing my love of Christ and of learning and teaching enables me to provide a foundation for future teachers to go out into the world and demonstrate, by example, the love of Christ,” she says.

We spoke with Erickson about helping teachers from pre-K through college reach their full potential.

Q: What is your background?

A: I began my journey as a special education teacher in Mobile and Baldwin counties. I taught in the K-12 setting at Dunbar Middle and Spanish Fort Elementary; East Cobb Middle and Lawrenceville Elementary, both in Georgia; Robertsdale Elementary K-12 and ended my career in the public school K-12 setting at Robertsdale High School as the Gifted Education teacher. I am certified in emotional conflict, specific learning disabilities, and gifted education. I am the special education specialist for the UM School of Education and the edTPA Coordinator. I also am the co-director of the Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning at the University of Mobile that provides professional development services for faculty.

Q: What was your dissertation topic?

A: My dissertation title is: Critical Multiculturalism and Preservice Teacher Education. The topic of my study was the need for preparing future teachers to teach in a more culturally responsive way. The changing demographics of our schools demand our future teachers be prepared to use a variety of engaging methods that reach ALL learning styles and cultures.

Q: Why should someone choose to study special education at UM?

A: Special Education is a burgeoning field. Every classroom will have students with special needs. The skills and strategies taught in our Bachelor of Science in Collaborative Special Education (K-6) program will prepare future teachers to meet the needs of not only special education students but those in general education as well.

Q: What is your favorite class to teach?

A: I teach all special education classes, from ethics and the laws governing special education to classroom management in the special education classroom. Additionally, I teach Educational Psychology and a Professional Development Seminar. The Professional Development Seminar prepares our students in the development of their edTPA Portfolio which is a high-stakes teacher assessment portfolio. I think my favorite class is the Professional Development Seminar because I can see how our students have grown in their teaching craft.

Q: You are passionate about Universal Design for Learning. Tell us about it.

A: This method of teaching and designing a classroom and its curriculum is a must for the 21st-century classroom at all levels. I want all students regardless of ability or background to develop a love for learning. In order for a love of learning to develop, students need a teacher/mentor to guide and support them and meet them where they are on the learning continuum. In other words, not all students learn at the same rate or in the same way. A good teacher will meet them where they are and help them reach their full potential. The development of the Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning is rooted in this passion.

Q: What do you like most about UM?

A: My favorite thing about UM is the people. I have worked in many places and have enjoyed and known many people, but the administration, faculty, staff and students here at the University of Mobile are the most loving and supportive people with whom I have ever worked. There is a feeling of peace and grace I’ve never seen anywhere else.