STEPHENVILLE (Monday, July 29, 2019) — The educational organization Humanities Texas named Dr. Karen Galley, a graduate of Tarleton State University’s doctoral program in education, the 2019 James F. Veninga Outstanding Teacher of the Humanities.
Galley teaches social studies at Success High School in the Fort Worth Independent School District. She credits the university’s program for giving her the flexibility to remain in the classroom as she explores career options in administration.
“The (Tarleton) faculty supports critical thinking and awareness about a broad range of educational issues, but they also encourage you to individualize and think how you can apply your learning on your own campus,” Galley said. “Whatever we were learning about, we were encouraged to think about in terms of our own practice.”
Galley became an educator while a graduate student at the University of Michigan. Initially, she didn’t know she wanted to be a teacher.
“I went to Michigan actually for a German studies program, a mix of language and history. Then they offered me the chance to teach a German class as a graduate assistant. Having never been in front of a classroom before, I loved it. I loved being with the students. I felt very comfortable in the classroom. I decided pretty early on I wanted to get my degree in education and teach high school.”
Galley, who was previously named the Fort Worth ISD Teacher of the Year and the district’s Chair for Teaching Excellence in Humanities, teaches in one of the most challenging educational arenas in Fort Worth.
Success High School, an alternative campus, caters to older returning students who dropped out and to older international newcomers. Galley teaches both groups.
“If you are a refugee who grew up in a camp maybe in Somalia or Tanzania, when you come to the United States, let’s say you’re 12 or 13, you’re young enough, you’ll be able to learn English and eventually be in a regular program,” she explained. “But if you’re older, 17 or 18, then you would come to us so we could teach English and academics all at the same time in an accelerated format to get you graduated before you age out of pubic high school at 21.
“This is a very special population whose students have come from all over the world, come from nothing, from hardship and suffering in their home countries. Watching them build their own lives here and strive for the American dream is incredibly rewarding.”
The evening program focuses on students who left school to work, have a baby or for any number of reasons and returned to get a diploma.
Galley came to Texas from New Jersey in 2007 with her husband, a philosophy professor at Tarrant County College. She got her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary before heading to Michigan and, eventually, to the Fort Worth campus of Tarleton State University, where she earned her Ed.D. in educational leadership and policy in 2017.
She chose to pursue her doctorate at Tarleton for a couple of reasons.
“One, I live in Fort Worth, very close to the campus. But I also compared programs, and I liked that Tarleton was not only focused on students becoming administrators, it was for anyone who wanted to understand Texas policy, federal policy. It seemed like a good option for me.”
She also enjoyed the closeness with her fellow students.
“I really liked the support of my classmates in the cohort model,” she said. “We had a superintendent, principals, assistant principals, people working in human resources. We had classroom teachers, lots of different things. Some in higher education, too. We bonded and became a really tight group.”
The Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award recognizes exemplary K–12 humanities teachers. Each year, 12 teachers are selected to receive $5,000 cash, plus an additional $500 goes to their respective schools to purchase humanities-based instructional materials. From among the 12, one receives the James F. Veninga Outstanding Teaching of Humanities Award, established to honor the Humanities Texas Executive Director Emeritus for his 23 years of contributions to the public humanities in Texas and the U.S.
The mission of Humanities Texas is educational excellence through programs that improve classroom teaching, support libraries and museums, and create opportunities for lifelong learning. Founded in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities Texas is one of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils in the United States.
Tarleton State University is part of a Texas A&M University System statewide campaign that encourages teaching as a career. A&M System’s 11 universities produce more fully certified teachers than any other university system in Texas.