Member Spotlight: Shandra Claiborne-Payton

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

Get to know Shandra Claiborne-Payton …

Shandra Claiborne-PaytonPosition/Institution: Assistant Professor, Virginia State University
(Also serving at Executive Director for VSU CENTERS STEM Initiatives)
Number of years in your position: 5 years
Alma Mater(s): Ed.D Curriculum and Instructional Leadership, Northcentral University
Hometown: Chesterfield, VA

  1. How long have you been a member of AACTE?
    I have been a member of AACTE for 6 years.

  2. Why did you join AACTE?
    AACTE was the first professional organization I was introduced to as a young faculty. I was also intrigued by their mission to be the leading voice for educator preparation. AACTE provides a variety of opportunities for its members to grow, connect with like-minded individuals, and to learn how to be an advocate for teacher education. Joining AACTE has been a great fit for me to spread my wings and get active.

  3. Why did you decide to enter the field of educator preparation?
    I decided to enter the teacher education profession because I had so many role models in k-12 that were excellent educators. I have always felt the need to give back and education was the profession where you can continue to be a lifelong learner and make a positive impact on the future.

  4. What’s been your favorite or most memorable moment of your career so far?
    My most memorable moment in my career has been the success of so many students that I have mentored/taught. They have become Teachers of the Year, excellent administrators, and some professors at respective universities.

  5. What’s one thing – educator preparation-related or not – you learned in the last month?
    I learned collaboration is key. You can open so many doors and learn new things when you collaborate with others. I have started some new ventures over the past month and the experts that I am collaborating with have taught me so many things in such a short time.

  6. What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
    My biggest challenge is being the voice as younger faculty. Many times people often discount your expertise because you don’t have longevity in the profession. Being able to find your voice within the profession and developing a support system of seasoned mentors can be challenging.

  7. What advice would you give someone who is interested in working in this field?
    I would tell them that educators make all other professions possible. This is the most rewarding profession where you can make an impact every single day.

  8. Who or what inspires you?
    My mother Rita Epps is who inspired me. She was not an educator by profession but she instilled all of the characteristics of a teacher in me. She taught me to always do your best and if you fail try again. She was the first educator in my life and her words of wisdom, encouragement, and support have followed me throughout my career.

  9. What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
    That I am a carpenter by trade. I love to build and fix things. I grew up always fixing and putting things together with my father who was a carpenter. I am not a fancy girl, I like to get my hands dirty.

  10. What is your favorite part about being a member of AACTE?
    My favorite part of AACTE is the membership benefits. I can remember in 2018, the membership chair at that time introducing herself to me at one of the socials. She talked to me about the benefits individually as a member of AACTE and the membership committee. In 2019, I applied for one of the membership committee member seats and was accepted. This was the first committee I worked on as a member of AACTE. I will never forget the opportunity to serve in this capacity. It allowed me to meet so many people and learn about the opportunities given not only to the member institutions but to its members individually. I learned about all the benefits and now I have shared those with so many colleagues who did not know about them. I will always be an advocate and spread the word of opportunities provided to the members of AACTE.

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Meghan Grenda

Director of Membership, AACTE