Friday, October 25, 2013

LETU GraduateAwarded TDFE Student Teacher of the Year Award

Congratulations to LeTourneau University's School of Education! You've done it again! 

Cristian Driver and his proud LETU supervisor
Dr. Julie Teel-Borders
One of our recent students, Cristian Driver, was named the 2013 Student Teacher of the Year by the Texas Directors of Field Experiences this week in San Antonio.

Driver is the fourth student teacher of the year who has graduated from LETU's teacher preparation program since 1997 to win this distinction. Others included Matthew Bradley in 2010, Breanna Sellers Hurd in 2002 and Karen Bennett in 1997. LETU grad Nikita Mumphrey was also named intern of the year in 2010 by Texas Alternative Certification Association. This success is indicative of the excellent program our university provides to those whose calling is to teach the next generation. 

Driver, who graduated in May
with his bachelor's degree in mathematics education, is certified to teach grades 8-12 math.  He is now employed teaching algebra at Manvel High School in the Alvin Independent School District near Houston, where he also coaches track and basketball. And while he was at LETU, you might remember that he played basketball for the YellowJackets. 

Cristian is a great example of a student who sees his life's work as a holy calling. And because he teaches with excellence, others have noticed.

His supervisor, Dr. Julie Teel-Borders, said during Cristian's student teaching experience, she heard that several of his ninth grade students talked about how much they learned from him because he could explain it to them in a way they could understand. 

Great teachers, like those we have here at LETU and those we are preparing to teach in schools across the globe, make an impact on students for years to come. 

Teaching with excellence, compassion and integrity, Driver is a shining example of the kind of professional we seek to produce here at LeTourneau University.

Friday, October 18, 2013

LETU Alumni Make an Eternal Impact

At LeTourneau University, our graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christlike character who see life's work as a holy calling with eternal impact.

This past week, two of our LETU alumni were in the national spotlight for pursing their holy calling and making just such an impact.

Charles "Shroud" Wesley and his wife, Alexis, are the first husband and wife in the country to donate kidneys, according to the National Kidney Registry, a nonprofit that connects patients who are compatible through exchanges.  Their donation set in motion a series of transplants across the country saving the lives of 10 people they have never met.

Why would they do that?  Gratitude. They have been the recipients of the generosity of others, which prompted them to look for this way to share their faith and bless others.  You see, they have two small children, Leila and Roland, who have a rare joint disorder and have needed and received free medical surgeries to help them be able to walk.  Giving a kidney was their way to "give back" to others, even strangers. 

Alexis, who gave her kidney in surgery last Monday said she saw saving your kidney for a rainy day was like having a fire extinguisher while watching your neighbor's house burn down.  Charles donated his kidney to a stranger last April 2012. 

"You give up maybe three or four weeks of your life in terms of having to go through recovery but you can extend someone else's life by 10 or 15 years. I really wanted to be the person that was willing to do that," said Charles.

Their story was covered nationally on Fox News and appeared on their San Diego local news station, and in their local newspaper.

Another alumnus was featured this last week on The Kelly Files on the Fox Network for making an impact by filing a lawsuit against a Texas judge for failing to protect a 15-year-old girl in Caldwell, Texas, from a registered sex offender who was the live-in boyfriend of the girl's guardian.

Stephen Casey is co-founder of Texas Center for Defense of Life which filed the lawsuit against the Texas judge, who sent her back into the home knowing the sex offender lived there.  Later, the man tied up and raped the girl and shot and killed her guardian in front of her, according to the lawsuit.

You can watch that interview with Megyn Kelly. For more in depth information on the details of the case, you can read the WND story.

Casey co-founded the TCDL whose mission is to aggressively defend the sanctity of human life.  The organization provides pro-bono legal services to pro-life organizations and individuals throughout Texas. 

In February, Casey was also featured in national news on another case involving protecting a 16-year-old girl in Houston whose parents were coercing her to have an abortion.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Update on the I-20 Corridor

While it doesn't look much different yet, changes along Longview's I-20 corridor are coming. I was privileged to chair the citizen taskforce, appointed by Longview Mayor Jay Dean, to consider the potential of our I-20 corridor and present a set of observations and recommendations to the city council three months ago.

A healthy conversation is underway about the task force recommendations for redeveloping our neighborhoods for Longview's future. While the wheels of progress turn slowly, we need to realize three months is really just a very short time. We didn't get into this situation overnight, and we won't get out of the situation overnight.

However, I see tremendous signs of progress, with new restaurants opening near I-20 and Eastman Road, including Denny's and a new Cracker Barrel. Other new businesses are near the final stages of planning, including a new conference center and hotel project in this corridor. But these kinds of projects take negotiation, planning and financing, which takes time.

More than 46,000 vehicles pass by Longview on the interstate each day. Over 52,000 employees work nearby the I-20 corridor. Investments by private developers show us the value of our city's position along the interstate and should encourage us to see the potential.

The pending demolition of the abandoned hotel and gasoline station at I-20 and Estes Parkway will remove an ugly eyesore from the front door of our entire city. The task force labeled it as a roadblock to redevelopment and made it a priority as our first recommendation.

Longview leaders responded quickly, and LEDCO, under the leadership of Keith Honey, voted to acquire the property and make it ready for future development. The City of Longview led by Mayor Dean is also ready to participate. No bull dozers are rolling yet, but the required approvals, contracts, and funding decisions are moving very quickly behind the scenes. New restaurants, hotels, city conference centers and the removal of abandoned buildings - all in the last three months. Good things are beginning to happen.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fall Enrollment & Thoughts on Hard Times

This fall's enrollment results remind me that the middle class American families we serve are continuing to struggle in this difficult economy.  It is increasingly difficult for many to afford an LETU education in hard times like these.

Our founder, R.G. LeTourneau, knew hard times.  He lived through the San Francisco earthquake, two world wars and the Great Depression.  He knew business success and bankruptcy.

His life's example provides a lot of "best practices" that we can glean for our own lives today, such as how he dealt with unfair situations with integrity and how those situations opened doors for ingenuity.

He looked at failure as opportunity in work clothes, and always turned his disappointments into ways to grow both spiritually and professionally.

He didn't let people tell him that something couldn't be done since it hadn't yet been done, but instead he worked to design new solutions to problems, such as new equipment that no one had ever seen before.

And as a man many called "God's businessman," he pioneered the idea that your mission field can be wherever you are, making him one of the pioneers of faith and work integration.

My guest editorial titled "Good Thoughts for Hard Times from R.G. LeTourneau" appears this week in the Christian Post. You can read it in its entirety here.

We should take courage and recognize that difficult times like the economy we are currently living in can give us exceptional opportunity for ingenuity, just like our founder did in his day.