It was at Amarillo College where Dr. Sarah McMahan, now Director of the New Teacher Academy and Director of Clinical Practice at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), began her own journey in higher education.
McMahan, a 1998 graduate of Amarillo High School, attended AC in the summers of ’98 and ’99, completing about two dozen credit hours that were readily accepted at Abilene Christian University, where she completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in her chosen field of education.
McMahan, who is also a full professor of curriculum and instruction, was among the TWU delegation to visit AC last September for the signing of an articulation agreement that sealed the deal between the two schools.
“It’s so satisfying to come home and help implement a program that creates opportunities and better futures in education for the people of the Panhandle,” said McMahan, who ultimately achieved her doctoral degree at Texas Tech University. “I’m proud to be from Amarillo; I know and appreciate the culture and the landscape here.”
The partnership between AC and TWU created a pathway for prospective educators to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education with teacher certification through virtual coursework and completing the clinical student teaching experience within participating school districts – essentially never having to leave home to achieve their goals.
Candidates, including presently employed school support staff who want to take the next step towards a degree with teacher certification where they live and work, can now earn associate degrees from AC that transfer to TWU’s Teacher Education Program without loss of any credits.
While immersed in TWU’s online bachelor’s degree curriculum, candidates perform student teaching requirements at their local schools with support – online and in-person – from embedded TWU faculty, such as McMahan, who was back in Amarillo this month to do exactly that: support clinical teachers.
Thanks to her own experiences at AC, McMahan knows that AC education majors can be expected to succeed in a rigorous teacher-education program like the one offered through TWU.
“Growing up in Amarillo, I was like everyone else in that I knew plenty about Amarillo College,” she said. “Then, just like it is now, it was affordable and accessible, and it had a very strong reputation for providing a solid foundation for whatever field you planned to pursue.
“It was not only the perfect stepping stone, but all my AC credits transferred to Abilene Christian. I learned lifelong skills at AC, like in writing and public speaking, that totally prepared me for my academic journey at Abilene Christian.”
In fact, McMahan was so grateful for the treatment she received in a speech class at AC that, long after her departure, she reached out to the teacher to express her appreciation.
“I just wanted to let him know that the confidence, poise and articulation he instilled in me was paying real dividends in my life,” McMahan said. “I wanted him to know how thankful I was for his efforts on my behalf, that he had truly made a lasting impression on me.”
That speech teacher was none other than Dr. Paul Matney, who would go on to serve as president of AC from 2009-2014.
“How cool is that,” McMahan said, “to be able to say that I studied under a college president? I just love Amarillo College, and that’s one more reason why.”
For more information about the seamless teacher certification program that AC education majors can pursue through TWU, please contact Margarita Rocha-Zubia, senior advising associate for education and child development, at 806-371-5184.