A Lasting Legacy
The vision of the Central Baptist College Teacher Education Program is to develop professional educators who will leave a lasting legacy in the lives of students.
Professor LaNell Crook
LaNell Crook, M.Ed. is and Assistant Professor of Education in the Teacher Education Department at Central Baptist College.
My Education Journey
Born in Little Rock and raised in Malvern, I am a fourth-generation, life-long resident of Arkansas. My family, my church, and the dedicated teachers of Malvern Public Schools provided me with a solid spiritual and academic foundation and supported my desire for higher education. Four years after high school graduation, I donned another cap and gown and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 1994.
Honored to Educate Students
My professional experiences since that day have been varied and rewarding. I have been honored to educate students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds in both public and private schools. All my education experiences have allowed me to leave a lasting legacy.
A few of the positions I have been privileged to accept include: Chapter I math aide; Title I math teacher; fifth grade general education math rotation teacher; pre-school teacher; kindergarten teacher; Learning Lab teacher; first grade teacher; educational therapist/dyslexia therapist; Assistant Principal; Principal; and most recently, Assistant Professor of Education at Central Baptist College.
Teaching Children to Read
It was during my years as a first-grade teacher in a private Christian school that I was drawn to learn more about how children learn to read. In my undergraduate program, most professors espoused the whole language approach to literacy instruction. It was what I knew.
However, in the height of the whole language movement, my current school used a reading curriculum series that had a strong systematic phonics approach. I quickly realized that I was ignorant of how teach non readers to become fluent readers.
Using the curriculum series as a guide, I taught myself – and my students – many of the phonics and spelling rules of English that I had previously absorbed but could not explain.
National Institute for Learning Development Training
However, one year, there were several students in my class who did not seem to be progressing in their reading skills. They struggled with decoding and word memory, and none of the strategies I had learned seemed to help them. Frustrated and intrigued, I sought to learn more. When a position became available to receive training through the National Institute for Learning Development (NILD), I jumped at the chance.
In pursuit of these training opportunities, I traveled to the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area several times throughout the next few years. In 2014, I completed a Master of Education Degree with an emphasis in NILD Educational Therapy through Regent University’s Individualized Degree Program. I became an NILD Professionally Certified Educational Therapist and Certified Dyslexia Therapist through the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).
I also participated in a Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment (FIE) Standard Level I course – a cognitive intervention program developed by Israeli clinical, developmental, and cognitive psychologist Professor Reuven Feuerstein. (To keep certification as an educational therapist and dyslexia therapist, student contact hours must be maintained. Because of my later work in school administration and subsequent inability to maintain student contact hours, I am not currently professionally certified by NILD or IDA.)
Advocating for All Students
My work and experiences in the field of educational and dyslexia therapy caused me to want to advocate for all students in a greater capacity. Early intervention for struggling readers became my passion, and I pushed for a new program at my school for beginning readers who did not seem to be making adequate progress.
With the permission and help of my supervisor, I began a small group reading intervention program that systematically and explicitly addressed phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.
Encouraged by the success of my students and the reading program itself, I decided to continue my own education in the area of leadership. I began coursework in school administration and accepted a position as Assistant Principal. Upon completion of the coursework, I passed the School Leaders License Assessment (SLLA) and became a licensed P-12 building level administrator.
Soon thereafter, I accepted a position as Principal and quickly discovered that my role in helping teachers with classroom management, professional growth, and evidence-based reading instruction was my favorite part of school leadership.
Right to Read Act & Central Baptist College
In 2017, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 1063, known as the Right to Read Act (AR Code § 6-17-429). Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, K-12 Arkansas educators employed in certain grade levels and teaching positions will be expected to demonstrate either awareness of and/or proficiency in the science of reading.
The Central Baptist College (CBC) Teacher Education Program was approved by the Arkansas Department of Education as an Educator Preparation Provider pathway in 2019. I joined the faculty of the CBC Education Department in the fall of 2019 and am honored to be the instructor for two of the three applicable courses.
Foundations of Literacy
In the Foundations of Literacy course, I introduce various theoretical models of reading, including the Simple View of Reading, Scarborough’s Reading Rope, The Four-Part Mental Processing Model, and Ehri’s Phases of Reading Development. Students study components of reading instruction through units that focus on phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics and word study, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
Challenging my Students
I challenge my students to dive deeper into the study of orthographic mapping – the process the brain uses to store words permanently for automatic, effortless retrieval – and the components identified as critical to the process.
Also, I encourage students to explore the Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek, and French influences on spelling patterns and pronunciations of English words. Throughout the course, students practice research-based instructional strategies. The Literacy Assessment and Intervention course expands on these topics to include screening, progress monitoring, and diagnostic assessments that inform classroom instruction and interventions in reading, spelling, and writing.
Other Courses I facilitate
In addition to Foundations of Literacy and Literacy Assessment and Intervention, I facilitate the following courses: Classroom Management, Math for Elementary Teachers, Inclusive Classroom, Exceptional and Diverse Learners, Special Methods in Middle Level Content Areas, and Social Studies for Elementary Teachers. Each course, unique in its focus, serves as an integral component in a comprehensive study of the field of education.
Inspiring the Next Generation of Educators
In my current position at CBC, I have the privilege of combining my varied experiences, training, and passion for advocacy to engage, challenge, and inspire the next generation of educators to leave a lasting legacy within the framework of a Christian worldview.
I hope to support and encourage students to become lifelong learners in their fields of expertise, building on the academic and biblical foundation they receive at CBC.
In addition, successful coursework completion, clinical experiences, and internships coupled with a commitment to faithful service and lifelong learning prepares CBC Teacher Education Program graduates to leave a lasting legacy in the lives of their students.
Do you want to become an educator and leave a lasting legacy in future generations to come?
You can learn from passionate and outstanding faculty at Central Baptist College like Professor LaNell Crook.
Schedule a virtual meeting or a personal campus visit at cbc.edu/visit.