Dynamic Teaching Duo Teresa Do and Makayla Dockery Bonded as Student Teachers

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Education majors Teresa Do and Makayla Dockery were raised on opposite sides of the country, but they discovered common ground and forged a fast friendship as student teachers at Harris Road Middle School. Now they will begin their careers together.

Do, a native of Santa Clara, California, and Dockery, from Norwood, North Carolina, were acquainted through a couple of courses in the Cato College of Education.

“Makayla and I shared moments of stress, laughter and joy as our bond strengthened,” said Do, adding they assisted one another to complete their edTPA standards, a national assessment and support system used by many collegiate teacher preparation programs.

“I knew Teresa briefly from classes, but it has been one of the best experiences to have taught together,” Dockery said. “We would stay at school until it was dark tackling our edTPA requirements, and we even submitted our portfolios together. I don’t think I could have done it without her support.”

Do and Dockery will be awarded bachelor’s degrees in middle grades education at Spring Commencement 2024. While Dockery will be licensed in social studies and English language arts; Do will teach math and science.

A shared passion

Serving as role models for future generations of students is a passion the future teachers share.

“Growing up, I did not have an African American teacher, but I am following in the footsteps of my mother, Antionette Baldwin, who teaches at Norwood Elementary School,” said Dockery. “I look forward to working with students to hear their perspectives as they work through challenging conversations.”

Do recalls being a second language learner in grade school with limited educational resources. “A few dedicated teachers helped me grasp math and science, which ignited my passion for both subjects. I’m driven by that same desire to provide similar guidance; I love teaching because it allows me to make a meaningful difference in students’ lives.”

The CATO College of Education: A supportive environment

UNC Charlotte is one of a few universities Do considered during the college application process; she’s happy to say it’s become home.

“My education professors and mentors have been instrumental in my development. Teaching requires immense dedication and hard work, and engaging in clinical hours and student teaching deepened my passion for the profession,” she said.

Dockery, after transferring to UNC Charlotte to major in education, which wasn’t an option at a previous college, credits Kate Gilbert, a supervisor and lecturer in the Office of School and Community Partnerships, for pushing her beyond her comfort zone.

“As a student teacher, I came to the realization that there is no way to be fully prepared for a day of teaching, and that’s the beauty of being an educator,” Dockery said. “I am constantly on my toes figuring out how best to reach students every day.”

She is among the nominees for Cato College’s 2024 Student Teacher of the Year. Elizabeth Evans, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Harris Road Middle School, lauded Dockery’s “extraordinary drive and character,” describing Dockery as a “remarkable teacher … who listens to students well and is open-minded and inclusive.”

“From the first week, Makayla prioritized relationship-building and identifying the academic and social-emotional needs of our students,” Evans explained.

Moving forward together

After graduating in May and taking time this summer to rejuvenate, Do and Dockery will reunite as full-time teachers at Harris Road Middle School later this year. Do will teach seventh grade math and science, and Dockery will lead sixth graders in learning world history.

“I look forward to beginning my teaching career with Teresa as we continue to make memories, share ideas and support each other,” said Dockery.

Do says it is incredible that she and Dockery accepted teaching positions at the same school. “I’m excited that we will start our careers together, and even though we will teach different grade levels, we will bolster each other as colleagues.”