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C-N Spotlight: Dr. Byron Booker

C-N Spotlight features members of the Carson-Newman community in their own words. Any edits are made for the sake of clarity and style consistency.

Dr. Byron A. Booker
Assistant Professor of Education 

My hometown
I claim east Tennessee as home. Born in Knoxville. Spent most of my school years in Jonesborough and Johnson City.

Where I went to school
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Doctor of Philosophy, Education Administration, Education Leadership and Policy 

Carson-Newman University
Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language 

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Bachelor of Arts, Major Political Science 

What I teach
Graduate and undergraduate courses in education

Where I was before joining the C-N faculty
I spent the previous 17 years in public education as a high school administrator and former teacher. I spent nine years prior in state and local government.

What drew me to teaching at Carson-Newman
My relationship with Carson-Newman University manifested with my parents. My parents attended Carson-Newman [University] in the days when it was a college. Dad graduated in 1966. Mom earned her undergraduate in three years, completing about half of it at Carson-Newman before transferring to the University of Tennessee. I grew up knowing the names and legacies of Tom Teague, Fessor Jones, Dean Roden, Joe Bill Sloan, and Dr. and Mrs. Ball. My grandmother attended C-N in the 40s. Numerous cousins have walked along Mossy Creek. My wife is a two-time graduate of C-N, earning bachelor and master’s degrees. Throughout those shared experiences of the Orange and Blue, one truth resonated with me. “This is home.”

In recent years, I have had the privilege to work and collaborate with Kim Hawkins and Cindy Lang, have maintained personal and professional friendships with Danny Hinson and Mark Brock, and have cherished the ongoing legacy of Sharon Teets and Peggy Hypes. Dr. Marvin Cameron, longtime friend and trustee of C-N is my parent’s minister and friend. His willingness to invest in me was vital to my admission and success at C-N. These folks have shaped and molded my professional calling and career to the point that I look at C-N and believe, “this is where I belong.”

What I love most about teaching
The students, hands down. I love what I do.

My favorite things to do outside the classroom
My wife, stepdaughter, and I own a mantra, “weird done right.” That probably sums up who I am and what I enjoy outside the classroom: surf-fishing, swimming, musical theatre, travel, music, collegiate athletics, to name a few.

The coolest place I’ve visited
Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan

Favorite food
I have met very few foods that I didn’t like.

What my playlist looks like
My playlist is all over the place: Hootie and the Blowfish, Doobie Brothers, Rich Mullins, Mumford and Sons, Fleetwood Mac, Lauren Daigle, Chet Atkins, Donna Summer, Hamilton, TRUTH, Elton John, Oscar Peterson, the B-52s, Stan Getz, Dangermuffin, the Bangles, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Les Mis, the Everybodyfields, Gabriela Rocha, Cross Anchor Union, Journey, Whitney Houston, Neil Diamond, Ragtime: The Musical, and Toby Keith.

My favorite memory as a C-N student
Too many activities to list as favorite memories. What I cherish the most are the international students who were my classmates in the MAT program. Being a part of their lives for a season was my greatest takeaway as a student. 

My hope for students who take my class
I was a huge fan of the late, great coach of the NC State Wolfpack Jim Valvano. In his immortalized 1993 ESPY speech, he challenged this East TN kid to spend time each day in laughter, thought, and emotion stirred to tears, be it happiness or sadness. And I share that with every class I teach.

I want my students to be healthy and happy. When you think about it, their health and happiness will transcend academics, athletics, and activities of service.

Those two schools of thought permeate my hope for their calling, their care, and their competence.  

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