I am Rebecca McKay, Talladega College Dean of Social Sciences and Education, wife, mother, grandmother, and gardener. I have taught every age, including elderly adults, pre-school children, babies, and every age in between. I believe in hard work, joy, and a specific life plan for all of us as we go through our wonderful lives. In August of 1961, at twelve years of age, I took my first teaching job working on Saturdays with a neighbor child who needed to learn to play. I feel that my path in life has led me through a wonderful set of opportunities that prepared me to do my current job. In August of 2015, I sent my request to retire from the Alabama State Teacher Retirement System. After fifty-four years of teaching, I am still living my dream. Today, I am in my favorite role, that of “teacher of teachers.” My role in the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Talladega College (TC) Virtual Liberal Arts Innovation Center (LAIC) for Education is to work with and support colleagues who are featured in this electronic magazine. I will play a significant role in our journey to improve instruction and active learning and form a community of colleagues who want to improve their classroom instruction.

I always wanted to teach and feel it is my destiny. Being fortunate to have a family who supported my work was a gift. If I needed a teaching tool or device, everyone in my family, extended family, and my friends pitched in and created the tool that I needed. Early in my career, my husband and my Dad made sets of Montessori self-corrective teaching materials. We created sandpaper letters-upper and lower case-, building blocks, large and small sets, sand and water tables, button, lace, and shoe tying boards. So materials and techniques have always been a driving force in my schoolwork.

Over these 54 years, I became involved with numerous initiatives, programs, and organizations that changed my life and my teaching. I have always been drawn to others who have been labeled by society as the “underdog” or students who struggle socially, mentally, or physically. Soon, I realized that my path was being drawn toward struggling readers and writers. After years of classroom work, I moved into the role of literacy coach and enrolled in a Ph.D. program with an emphasis in literacy. I used my time to serve students labeled as struggling readers and writers. I also completed simple research studies to find out how to help. I truly love my work, no matter the age or circumstances of the student. At the high point of my career, I was asked to research, write, and work with the Alabama Reading Initiative. This was an intellectual growth period that was life changing as I won numerous teaching awards, wrote extensively, traveled through my state, across the country, and worked internationally to present and learn how to support schools and communities that were struggling and labeled as “failing.”

In my doctoral program, I learned how to generate new knowledge and thinking related to supporting schools, communities, and families struggling with multiple hardships. I was most drawn to the teachers in these communities who were labeled as failures. For the rest of my life, I am committed to working with great love and respect with teachers and teacher candidates who deserve the best and most carefully designed materials and professional learning that can be offered.

Rebecca McKay, Ph.D., Talladega College Dean of Social Sciences and Education, leads the Innovation Team. She is trained in Lesson Study (LS), has acted as a Japanese Lesson Study Delegate to Tokyo, Japan, and in 2007 studied with international experts, Akihiko Takahashi, Tad Watanabe, and Makoto Yoshida, all Japanese American professors. She directs the Talladega College Education Department in LS to assist preservice teachers with Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), candidate support, and assessment program for Alabama teacher certification. She led the Education Department in the writing of an article featuring details of the practice, “Small Things Make a Big Difference: The Teacher, The Lesson, The Students, The Environment” and published in the MidSouth Literacy Journal (2016). Dr. McKay presented “Lesson Study: An Authentic Field Experience” at the National Field Experience Conference in 2017. She is knowledgeable and credible in the Lesson Study (LS) process. Beginning in 2007, she has attended and worked with Lesson Study experts in the United States and the following countries: Singapore, Japan, and Exeter, U. K.

Since Dr. McKay completed the ACUE Association of College and University Educators course in 2019, she will share components with the Innovation Team and team members will complete the training. Dr. McKay is an individual with many talents, intelligence, and a true passion for teaching. Since her employment in the Talladega College Education Department in 2015, she has led numerous Lesson Studies (LS) on the college campus and in local education systems.