fmu_h_lewis_l_porter_m_abdullah_web.jpgMIAMI GARDENS — Florida Memorial University’s School of Education (SOE) has been training high quality teachers for nearly a century. Florida’s Department of Education recently re-affirmed the program for two more years. SOE, which traces its history back to 1915, currently supplies one of every four of South Florida’s black teachers.

“We prepare our students to work with pupils from diverse backgrounds in an increasingly technological society,” said Mildred Berry, Ed.D., dean of SOE. “We ensure they that, not only are they competent in their discipline, but also that they show compassion to their students.”

Two SOE alumnae recently earned high honors at their respective schools.

Latoya Porter, an FMU undergraduate and graduate alumna, is the 2011-2012 Rookie Teacher of the Year at Frederick Douglass Elementary.

Shauna Graham was recently honored as the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year for Myrtle Grove Elementary.


Porter attributes her success to the education she earned at FMU. “FMU provided me with a repository of knowledge and the competencies necessary to understand students and students with challenges.”  Porter said. “The faculty and staff are welcoming. They taught me everything I use in the classroom.”

SOE offers 10 undergraduate and four graduate degrees. Berry and a faculty comprising 10 professors with doctoral degrees help transition pupils into practitioners. The program requires all prospective graduates to complete the curriculum and pass all pertinent state educator exams.

The dean said she is not interested in training students who merely regurgitate information from its faculty members. “Our students must own the information,” Berry added. “They must make that information accessible to their future students.”


Porter said the program’s intimacy and superior instruction prepared her for “life in the classroom,” and that she tries to recreate the “family atmosphere” that she experienced at FMU for her students. She said she specifically chose kindergarten because “it’s the foundation for education.”

Berry says this combination of acumen and empathy creates a recipe for victory in the classroom.

“Compassion for each student is the key to success,” Berry added. “Children don’t care how much you know. Until they know how much you care.”


TEACHERS ALL: From left, Florida Memorial University President Henry Lewis III, FMU alum Latoya Porter and Makola Abdullah, FMU provost and vice president for academic affairs.