Empowering Future Educators



Emily Byrd (’23) was given the opportunity to intern in a local elementary classroom for a full school year and jumped at the chance to experience all the important moments with her students. Although there is no way to be completely prepared for the first year of teaching, she knew learning classroom management during crucial seasons like the first week of school would set her up for success in her career. 

Byrd was among the pilot class of interns in the Canon-Clary College of Education’s residency program. In partnership with the Searcy School District, the college places student interns in classrooms for a full academic year so they can better understand the environment and gain skills that will prepare them for their future classrooms. 

“Harding’s yearlong residency students are getting the absolute most out of their internship program,” Searcy Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart says. “Graduates from the program going into the classroom are equipped with a year of experience under their belts. Our classroom teachers learn just as much about their instructional work as the interns. The program is a win-win for everyone involved. We are thrilled to be a partner.”

Placed in a third grade classroom at Sidney Deener Elementary School with Wendy Leitz, 2022-23 Searcy School District Teacher of the Year, Byrd loved getting to know her students and watching them grow. She also built relationships with fellow teachers and school staff who supported her during her internship and welcomed her back when she decided to stay for her first year of teaching. 

“We are so glad to have Ms. Byrd on staff at Sidney Deener,” principal Jeff Graham says. “Having her on our campus for the entire school year allowed us to see what kind of person and educator she was and could become. [She] is quickly establishing herself as an educator with the knowledge and desire to be successful in an ever-demanding field."

Now teaching second graders, Byrd knows the curriculum they will be taught next year and is well suited to prepare them for the next step. Her residency supervisor, Allison Parker, has no doubt that she will make a significant difference in the lives of her students. 

“Coupled with a joyful, Christian spirit and a passion for children, there is no doubt that Emily will play a tremendous role in shaping the lives of children wherever God calls her,” she said. “I look forward to witnessing it.”


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