Teacher Ed alumna includes C-N in sabbatical research

Dr. Cathy Freytag, meets with members of the C-N community during her recent campus visit.  Pictured left to right are Sarah Demoiny, Dr. Kim Hawkins, Freytag, Dr. Peggy Hypes, Dr. Julia Price (back to camera) and Dr. Jeremy Buckner.

Dr. Cathy Freytag, meets with members of the C-N community during her recent campus visit. Pictured left to right are Sarah Demoiny, Dr. Kim Hawkins, Freytag, Dr. Peggy Hypes, Dr. Julia Price (back to camera) and Dr. Jeremy Buckner.

While schools like Carson-Newman University make much of words like “care” and “nurture” as a central component of the educational process, there seems to be a dearth of scholarly exploration of the subject and how those components are instilled in tomorrow’s teachers.

That is temporary, given that 1990 C-N alumna and Houghton College administrator Dr. Cathy Freytag is investing her sabbatical leave from the New York institution to examine “the construct of care in Christian Teacher Education programs.” After a couple of days recently spent on campus (April 22-23), the academic is at the midway point in collecting data from six institutions that she will analyze for conference sessions and presentations.

Freytag spent a couple of days engaging C-N professors on their approach to caring for students and how they specifically instill the concept and practice of care in future educators. She spent a dozen years in public school education before joining Houghton a decade ago. Both halves of that teaching coin have served well for sabbatical research preparation, though she admits to learning to squelch her own biases and allowing interviewees the opportunity to process at their comfort levels.

“I am fairly new to qualitative research, so I am becoming more comfortable with silence and wait time and not interjecting my own thoughts or ideas, but just listening well. I am learning a lot about being a good listener, and much of what I am hearing resonates with my own beliefs and points of view about issues of care in Christian teacher education,” she noted.

By letting a conversation take place among others – seven C-N profs in one of the sessions – Freytag is able to allow a thread to stem from what others bring to the table and become more observer and less of a facilitator. That was likewise the case when she met with C-N teacher education students who are the beneficiaries of professors who care.

On the matter of learning care by example, the former student of Dr. Bernard Bull ’64 and advisee of Dr. Peggy Hypes said she becomes ever more appreciative of her C-N years. While she expected to value what she learned as a Teacher Education major, she said she has come to cherish “the liberal arts experience” with the benefit of two decades of reflection.

“As 18 to 22-year-olds, young college students don’t recognize what they have in the midst of it, but in hindsight, I have been able to so appreciate the liberal arts preparation – that was key,” she said.

While Freytag said academic excellence is the heart of “the Carson-Newman experience,” she opined that life beyond classrooms and course offerings “really nurtured me well.” She credits the richness of those years with driving her desire to seek a similar setting when she was ready to shift professional gears. Her host of options included large and smalls schools, both public and private, and religious as well as secular … “but, because of my experience here at Carson-Newman, I very explicitly wanted to be in a Christian liberal arts environment so that I could give back in the ways that I had been nurtured as an undergraduate.”

As a way to thank C-N’s Teacher Education program for its participation, Freytag will provide an overview of what she learned on her recent visit. Between collecting the data, analyzing it and producing material for presentations, she intends to provide case studies to all six of the institutions. She said she intends to write into the summer and have material that will serve as the basis for presentations at professional conferences next spring.

– Mark Brown, Alumni News & Information