Five from Tarleton State’s First-Year TAFE Chapter Heading to Nationals

Tarleton State TAFE national qualifiers Abby Graham, Alana Hernandez, Dr. Crystal Rose (faculty adviser), Journey Harris, Holly Dudley, Madison Klement and Dr. Anna Fox (faculty adviser).

STEPHENVILLE — Five students from Tarleton State University’s new campus chapter of the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE) are advancing to national competition at the Educators Rising National Conference in June.

Tarleton State Curriculum and Instruction students hosted and competed in the area conference as a collegiate organization for the first time in November. Winners moved on to the TAFE state summit Feb. 28-March 1.

Freshmen Abby Graham, Alana Hernandez, Journey Harris and Holly Dudley along with junior Madison Klement qualified at state for the national competition, which takes place in Washington, D.C., June 28-July 1.

“We are so proud of them, but they need funding,” said chapter adviser Crystal Rose, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “Our girls are hitting the ground running with fundraising. Every little bit helps!” The trip will cost approximately $9,800, she said, for registration, hotel, flights and food for the five competitors and one faculty sponsor.

Tarleton State’s TAFE chapter was formed last fall after a conversation with Cleburne High School teacher Vanessa Butler and Harris, a CHS graduate. A grant from The Texas A&M System provided funding to start a chapter for the Stephenville, Fort Worth and Waco campuses.

Harris, now president of Tarleton State’s TAFE chapter, competed in Educators Rising Moment, ELF Test, and Creative Lecture at the state conference. Her events included speeches on teacher pay and on why she decided to become an educator.

“It was truly magical to see all of these people working toward the same profession coming together in an encouraging atmosphere,” she said.

Dudley competed in Interactive Bulletin Boards at the state competition. Graham partnered with Hernandez on Researching Learning Challenges; they gathered information about dyscalculia (a learning disorder that affects the ability to understand number-based information) and how it can impact daily life, then they recommended classroom accommodations. They presented their findings in a paper to a panel of judges.

“This was beneficial,” Graham said. “It opened my eyes, and I can share what I’ve learned to help others gain a little bit of understanding when it comes to this learning disorder.”

Klement, TAFE campus lead at Tarleton’s Waco campus, competed in Educators Rising Moment and Public Speaking. Her favorite part was her Educators Rising speech. “I got to talk about how my most impactful educator influenced me, and how she has helped me become a better public speaker and future educator.”

Dr. Rose said that given so much negative talk about the obstacles teachers face — low pay, high workload, scarce resources, difficult classroom environments — she’s inspired by how many students show up for the competitions and choose education as a career.

“Hundreds of middle and high school students in our area attended the TAFE area competition that we hosted at Tarleton State,” she said. “The large majority of these students have already made the commitment to become a teacher despite the negative publicity surrounding teaching. It was because of this experience that our Tarleton TAFE chapter was born.

“TAFE has become not only an organization here but a way to recruit and retain aspiring educators. I strongly believe that if we can get them into our program and through our yearlong residency, they will remain in the profession and persist as excellent educators for decades to come.”

TAFE (pronounced “taffy”) is a statewide cocurricular student organization that enables students to explore opportunities and careers in the teaching profession. It was created in 1984 to provide Texas high school and middle school students with the knowledge to make informed decisions about pursuing a career in education. It’s sponsored by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals and governed by a board of directors composed of teachers, students and principals.

For more information on TAFE and the Area 10 Conference, visit For more information about the national competition, visit

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