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Classroom Connections: Samford
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 01/17/2019
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Courtesy: Southern Conference
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Samford softball player Laney Parks and Dr. Erin Gilchrist

About Laney Parks:
  • Junior
  • 5-6 infielder from Vestavia Hills, Ala.
  • Majoring in education

About Dr. Gilchrist: 

  • Assistant Professor and Director, Secondary Education in the Orlean Beeson School of Education
  • Owns a B.A. in Secondary English Education and an M.A., Ed.S, and Ph.D in English Curriculum Instruction, all from the University of Alabama 
  • Has been teaching for 13 years in college and K-12 schools and has taught English, Art, Theatre, Leadership, Qualitative Research, Creative Writing, and Education Classes during that span
  • Has taught at Samford for five years

Laney Parks and Dr. Erin Gilchrist in the Harwell Goodwin Davis Library on Samford's campus

Q&A with Laney Parks:

  •  What makes Dr. Gilchrist a good teacher? Dr. Gilchrist is probably one of the most selfless teachers I have ever come across. She is constantly on the go for her students and thinking to herself "what more can I do?". As a student that is going to go into the education field, this is something that I look up to on a daily basis. Dr. Gilchrist's love and enthusiasm for education is something that is contagious and I think that everyone that has had her in the past would agree! 
  • What do you like most about Dr. Gilchrist's class? I have several things that I love about Dr. Gilchrist's class, but I would have to say that my favorite thing is how comfortable she makes us feel in her classroom. In Dr. G's class we often talk about real life problems that we may encounter in the classroom and she always does a great job of allowing us to speak freely. She is never afraid to answer the tough questions. I would say that Dr. Gilchrist's classroom is one of the most open and honest classrooms I have ever been in. She truly has a gift for connecting with her students. 
  • What is something you’re involved in outside of class and sports that we may not know? If I am not in the classroom or on the field you can normally find me at Church of The Highlands. Several of my teammates and I love a good service from good ole Pastor Chris Hodges! 
  • How do you manage academics, athletics and a social life? What is your key to good time management? Time management was something that was very hard for me to learn when I first got to college. I am a social butterfly so managing school, sports, and friends was very hard for me. But I have found that time management is not all that hard as long as I make an effort to keep everything in line. I would say my key to my time management is to not let the weekends slip away from you. I always give myself at-least 4-5 hours on a Sunday to get reorganized and complete any assignments that I know I have for the upcoming week. This allows me to go into the week feeling prepared and not behind. 
  • What is your favorite spot on campus? This is a tough question but I would have to say the library! I have loved the library ever since I was a freshman. I love that I can go in to the lib and get some serious studying done if I want to hang out on the third floor, but if I am feeling more social or I need a study break I can pop down to the first floor and see about 10 of my friends! I love how our library is a place where I can study but also get a good study break in with my friends if I need too!
  • What are your plans post grad? I plan to hopefully get a job in a local high school here in Birmingham! I have thought about moving away but I have lived in Birmingham all my life and my whole family lives here. Hopefully I will be able to snag a job here in Birmingham and stay in my hometown!

 Q&A with Dr. Gilchrist:

  •   What is it like having Laney in your class? Anyone who has met Laney knows that she is an absolute “hoot.” Her honesty and openness with her own academic history adds such depth to the classroom conversation each day. This fact, combined with the fact that she’s incredibly eager to learn and grow as an educator, makes having her in class an absolute joy. She’s so genuine. People are drawn to her. I have no doubt she’s going to make an excellent teacher and coach.
  • What is your favorite sport or hobby? I was captain of my soccer team, back in the day, and I also cheered in college. These days, though, I mostly enjoy reading, writing, and painting. 
  • What do you like to do in your free time? I love spending time with my family outside. If I’m alone, I’m reading The Word and drinking coffee. I also love to exercise, anything from yoga to running. I’m a sucker for a solo cycling class or a hike through the woods with my daughter, husband, and dog.
  • What’s your favorite spot on campus? Ooh, easy! The Library. If I’m not in my office, or at a school, I’m in the library with a cup of Einstein’s vanilla-hazelnut brew. My students all know that I am a sucker for aesthetics, and for me, it doesn’t get better than the library. I also like to move around a lot and change spaces frequently, so you can catch me teaching in the quad, at the coffee house, or in the common room on the fourth floor of OBB. 
  • How often are you able to watch your student-athletes compete? Since I’ve been at Samford, I’ve been purposeful about seeing each student athlete play at least one time before graduation. So far I’ve had volleyball players, basketball players, football players and cheerleaders. Laney is my first softball player, so I’m excited to see her in action. My husband and I especially like to bring our 4-year-old daughter with us to watch all the female athletes in my program. These girls set such great examples for her – I want her to see and take note of such strong and disciplined talent.
  • What is your favorite thing about teaching? Class discussion. I assume it’s ingrained in me from years of being an English teacher, but there is nothing better than dissecting a text together. Working together to analyze the meaning and application of a topic or particular theorist/ author is where I find I’m happiest. Max Lucado wrote a book called “Living in your Sweet Spot” that compares the affirmative feeling of a tennis racket to the way that we were designed. Like hitting the ball in the right spot on the court, I know without a doubt, that I am living in my “sweet spot” when I’m teaching. Teaching is a calling, and it fills me with so much joy to see how excited and life-changing it can be for students (like Laney) to find their own “sweet spot” within their call to teach. 

About Classroom Connections: Classroom Connections is a new, bi-weekly feature that showcases student-athletes away from the playing field and highlights the relationship between student-athlete and professor. 

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