Member Spotlight: Tracie McLemore Salinas
AACTE’s Member Spotlight features an individual from a member institution, highlighting how their work makes a difference in classrooms across the country. Nominate yourself or another member by providing a response to the following questions and sending to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get to know Tracie McLemore Salinas …
Position/Institution: Director, Mathematics and Science Education Center, Appalachian State University; Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences
Number of years in your position: I am in my 17th year at Appalachian State as a faculty member and my first year as Director of the Mathematics and Science Education Center.
Alma Mater: B.S. William Carey University, Hattiesburg, MS; M.S. and Ph.D. University of Tennessee – Knoxville
Hometown: Petal, MS
- How long have you been a member of AACTE?
I have been a member of AACTE for about 7 years.
- Why did you join AACTE?
As I stepped into my first administrative position, I knew that I needed to gain a “big picture” view and step outside of my own familiar program and department. AACTE offered a way to connect with that view and to learn more about policy, practices, and other programs around the country. It also helped me to observe a number of educator roles in the landscape of teacher education, which was helpful in my developing administrative work.
- Why did you decide to enter the field of educator preparation?
Growing up on a farm in south Mississippi, I saw my grandparents and parents solving complicated problems related to agriculture, weather, and more on a regular basis and without much formal schooling. Eventually when I found my way to post-secondary education, I realized how little connection there was between the applied knowledge I saw at home and the formal schooling I had. Eventually I was drawn to the work of teachers in bridging that gap, especially in rural communities.
- What’s been your favorite or most memorable moment of your career so far?
This is a moving target! Over the years, I have been wowed by moments where I heard a particular speaker, such as Benoit Mandelbrot speaking on fractals at the Mathematics Joint Meetings in San Diego, CA in 2002 or Bob Moses on Quality Public School Education as a Constitutional Right at the Conference Board for the Mathematical Sciences in Reston, VA in 2011. These moments are often memorable for their impact on my motivation and continued focus in the work of education.
- What’s one thing— educator preparation-related or not—you learned in the last month?
I do a lot of cooking, and I have recently learned about several spices that I now use in my cooking, such as Za’atar. Amazing.
- What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
Balancing my professional self with my personal self has always been a challenge, and it continues to be an ongoing tension in my work. The cultural distinctions between academia and the place-based identity of ruralness are often difficult to harmonize.
- What advice would you give someone who is interested in working in this field?
Teaching—and the work around teacher preparation—can be challenging, and that’s largely because it matters so much in so many ways. Find ways to nourish yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally during the challenging projects and times.
- Who or what inspires you?
I am often inspired by those who live their genuine selves no matter where they are.
- What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I completed an undergraduate major in history as well as in mathematics, and in my spare time I actually work on a variety of local and genealogical history projects for my home area in Mississippi.
- What is your favorite part about being a member of AACTE?
I have long enjoyed the conferences and interactivity of being a member of AACTE. In the last year, I have served on the Committee on Research and Dissemination, and I have found this volunteer work to be a powerful way to meet others, to contribute to the organization, and to stay immersed in the scholarly work of teacher education.