Steven Drake is a senior from Dallas,Texas, majoring in Spanish and minoring in Education. While at Trinity, Steven has worked as a university tour guide intern and a student worker in the Student Diversity Inclusion office. He is also the president of PRIDE. The Education Department caught up with Steven recently to learn about his experiences in the program and to learn more about the research he conducted during the summer of 2020 and continues to do.
Q: Can you tell me why you decided to Minor in Education?
A: I'm actually spending a lot of time reflecting on this, as I'm trying to apply to graduate schools. But essentially, I decided to be a Minor in Education because I saw education as a way to create impact. I always saw myself as a teacher or an educator at the very least, someone who just works in the field of education and helps students.
Q: Can you tell me what your experiences have been like in the program so far?
A: I'm basically finished with my minor. I've taken all the classes I need to, but my experience has been very wide ranging. I have done the practicum courses, which have given me so much field experience and practical knowledge. But I've also taken Child and Adolescent development with Dr. Crim and how that impacts students, like knowing how students develop informs how you teach them and how you approach them in terms of education. I think the courses that I've taken have really expanded my ability to create, build empathy, build understanding, and have a more nuanced view of how do we educate.
Q: Can you tell me the most valuable thing you think you've learned from the program?
A: I think one of the most valuable things that I've learned, and I was just talking about with Dr. Delgado last week, is that education has really taught me to see that there's no one thing that is attributable to a cause. There's always so much, like I said, nuance within everything. For my specific purposes and line of work in terms of LGBTQI+ topics for students, people, and community, we can say like “Oh well, homophobia and transphobia are, you know, predominant in everything that we do and that's what's keeping us from progressing forward.” Yes, that is one thing, but it doesn't have to mean that everybody is violently homophobic and transphobic against people. It could just be like genuinely held beliefs that these topics don't belong in education, or that this isn't the right place. Maybe they're not the right age to hear these things. So you can't just approach education from a single facet, because education deals with humans and that deals with questions like how do we teach people? How do we make sure that information stays? That can't just be done one way. You can't just approach it from one angle, and so I think that's something that I've learned the most about.
Q: Can you tell me what your favorite class has been?
A: I most enjoyed my practicum classes just because there was so much practical application. Learning theory in a classroom is important, and theory is appreciated, but I liked the practical application. Being at a school every day was really nice. It allowed me to focus on the things that I wanted to focus on.
Q: Can you tell me who your favorite Education professor is?
A. Dr. Delgado is a shining light in my education experience. I mean I cannot say enough about her. She's the person that I have an independent study with this semester. We did research in the summer of 2020 looking at San Antonio K-12 teachers’ dispositions towards including LGBTQI+ topics in their curriculum. So basically seeing what do teachers know about the LGBTQI+ community? And what are they doing with that information? Are they actually building it into their curriculum? Or are they just keeping it for themselves? And why? What's the reason? So we did that research over the summer, and it was hugely impactful for me. So this semester, we're working on trying to continue that forward. So what else can we do with this? What else does it mean? And so I've just worked with her really closely, and she's been an amazing mentor.
Q: What were some of your findings from that summer research?
A. Essentially what we found was that teachers need resources. We got about 30 or so educators to respond to our survey, and I interviewed quite a few of them. What I was expecting going in was that I was going to find a very wide array of responses, like teachers saying, “No, I don't think we should teach those topics” and things like that. But what I found was for the large part, teachers want to include those topics. They feel that these are very important conversations to have with their students, they just don't know how. The grand majority of these teachers were cisgender heterosexual women teachers. And so from that perspective, they didn't have any sense of what is important and what needs to be taught for the LGBTQI+ community. I spoke with a lot of elementary teachers, and they want picture books because that's how they communicate these kinds of big topics and that's how students grasp those things. On the flip side, and this isn't a dig at CIS heterosexual teachers in education, but I did speak with a number of queer teachers. And their perspectives were really important to me too, because they're already doing that work. One was an ELA teacher, and she was already working in poets and queer authors to talk about these things. And from their perspective, what I heard was, you just have to do it. You know you have to. It's easy. A lot of teachers are like, “Well, I don't have the space, or I don't have the time,” but those queer teachers really showed me that there is the space. You make the space, and you make the time. I think that's inherently just a matter of those queer teachers knew what was at stake and knew why including those topics were important. And again, there's those nuances like those things wouldn't be apparent at first.
Q: So is your research now developing those ideas?
A. Yes. Essentially, we are trying to build out resources to provide teachers with some of those things. I also work in the Student Diversity Inclusion Office, and we're building out allyship workshops. So, I hope to go to schools and present allyship training, because that was another big finding. Almost none of the teachers had ever had any professional development on LGBTQI+ issues of people in the community. That was a huge gap in terms of what teachers knew about LGBTQI+ students. I hope to build out those resources and get my work published in a journal of practice, so that it really reaches teachers rather than academics on other university campuses. We want them to reach teachers so this creates an impact directly for students.
Q: What are your future plans?
A. Future plans are nebulous right now, but I'm working towards applying to graduate programs. Perhaps in policy, education, or policy and Leadership, because I do see that's where I can perhaps make an impact. I've done a lot of policy work here on campus, and what I did in my research essentially amounts to policy as well. So, that's probably where I'll go, and look at a doctorate after that.