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Leading Students Up a Mountain: Tim Davis’s Journey from Classroom Instruction to Nationwide Publication

May 2, 2024

Embarking on their educational journey, students often find themselves at the foot of a metaphorical mountain, filled with both uncertainty and anticipation. For Tim Davis, an Idaho State University College of Education alumnus, his role as their teacher is akin to being their mountaineer guide.

Davis strives to allow his students to see beyond reaching the summit, and instead focus on building resilience, courage, and confidence during their journey up the mountain.

Davis, a recent graduate of the College of Education’s Human Resource Development (HRD) Master’s program, serves as a clinical instructor of general education at Idaho State’s College of Technology. In this role, he teaches several English courses and communication classes to students in career and technical education (CTE) programs such as automotive, nuclear operations, welding, and more. He also serves as an instructor for ISU’s Successful Transitions and Retention Track (START) program that provides social and academic support to students who are interested in advancing their life goals or career aspirations, prior to them starting college.

Davis credits Dr. Robin Lindbeck, professor of HRD, with providing him guidance and support throughout the program. As Davis is a veteran of the United States Army, he describes Lindbeck’s energy, enthusiasm, and student support as one that he’d “follow into combat.” Specifically, during his final semester, Dr. Lindbeck encouraged him to write an academic article for Techniques, a nationwide CTE publication. Davis graduated from the HRD program the following month and learned in February 2024 that his article was accepted and would be published in Techniques in spring 2024.

The article titled, “Climbing the Mountain: Practical Advice About Teaching CTE”, is a metaphor for the CTE students he works with climbing this academic mountain and facing challenges like speech and English courses. The article covers Davis’s  personal experiences and philosophy about best practices when instructing CTE students, which includes establishing a rapport, making the coursework relevant, caring, planning, and trusting your own process.

For Davis, he sees himself in the CTE students he works with and reflects on his own unconventional educational journey that led to becoming a teacher and earning two master’s degrees. Davis, who originally grew up in North Carolina, always had a passion for writing but started at the foot of the mountain following high school graduation. His journey took him through diverse paths, from serving in the Army to being a prison guard and then to earning a bachelor of arts degree in English from Idaho State in 2005. This pathway then eventually led to him accepting a job teaching English adjunct classes. From that first day stepping foot into a classroom, Davis describes the feeling of having the “bug that bit” him. He knew he wanted to be able to help his students learn, be successful, and thrive in their future endeavors. 

After getting the teaching bug and completing a master of fine arts degree in 2010 from Boise State University, he began actively seeking instructor and adjunct positions. his desire to teach continued to strengthen and brought him back to his home state in 2016, teaching at Halifax Community College in Weldon, North Carolina, and then venturing into the high school setting, teaching 11-12th grade English classes at Southwest Edgecombe High School in Pinetops, North Carolina, from 2018-2019. During his time at Southwest Edgecombe High School, Davis had the opportunity to teach students from low-income backgrounds. This experience sparked his interest to continue working with struggling student populations. After briefly teaching in Idaho Falls, he landed his current role which he describes as his “dream job” doing just that.

Once Davis started at Idaho State, he learned that the Idaho Department of Education requires that all higher education CTE instructors complete teaching courses in order to receive CTE certification. There are two pathways to completing this certification, with one pathway being offered through the College of Education. Davis opted to complete the CTE classes through the College of Education, noting that he liked having the additional option to earn a second master’s degree by completing the HRD program with a CTE emphasis that is offered 100% online with no set class times. This format already accommodated his full-time teaching schedule.

During his time in the HRD program, Davis found that the curriculum provided him the opportunity to further his education, but also used the classroom experience he currently had. “After being a teacher for 15 years prior, the HRD program augmented what I was already doing as a teacher. It helped me learn how to break down information, organize units, and better highlight relevant information,” said Tim. “I recommend this program to everyone because of the flexibility the program offers and the unique context of the curriculum.” 

Being a writer at heart, he is grateful for how the HRD program allowed him the chance to not only expand his teaching practices, but also publish an article nationally. Davis knows he will be a lifelong mountain climber and seasoned guide to his students, noting, “You are never too old to learn. The day I am not willing to learn will be the day that I quit the teaching profession.” 

To learn more about the HRD program and CTE emphasis, please visit isu.edu/olp


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