Lori Rakes - Secondary Math
Although Lori Rakes always had a knack for math, Southeastern helped her mold it into a ministry.
Rakes, who graduated from Southeastern in 1985, is a fifth-grade math teacher at Cleveland Court Elementary School in Lakeland, Florida. She says the education she received at Southeastern has helped her teach mathematics and communicate with parents. The strength Rakes developed teaching math, led to her specializing in the subject when Cleveland Court's fifth-grade teachers divvied up teaching responsibilities. Math education is crucial, Rakes says, because most activities demand it-from thinking logically, to the problem-solving it takes to balance a checkbook or compute time spans after reading dates or times.
One of the most valuable classes Rakes took at Southeastern was math teaching methods, she said. Rakes' knowledge of different teaching methods helps her teach a concept in the way the student can best understand. In her teaching of measurements, Rakes composed a song to help students remember the number of subunits in different units, such as the number of inches in a foot, and the number or feet in a mile.
The psychology classes Rakes' took also have been instrumental in her life as a teacher.
She credits them with preparing her to communicate with many kinds of people in a reasonable and rational way. This skill has been useful when meeting with the parents of her students. One of her psychology teachers, former Southeastern Professor Dr. Jack Sharpe, had a huge impact upon her personally as well as academically. He counseled Rakes after her mother's death during her sophomore year. Sharpe, whose wife also had recently died, reassured Rakes that it was all right to be angry and question God, but she should never question the character of God as loving and just.
Other elements at Southeastern also pointed Rakes to God as a way to navigate challenges. Chapel services encouraged Rakes to seek God and put Him first in her decision-making. A singing group of which Rakes was a part also encouraged her to seek God through corporate and private devotions before practices and performances. Today, Rakes' Christ-centered faith, which was reinforced at Southeastern, helps her in the classroom. For example, if one of her 10- or 11-year-old students begins to test her patience, she can respond in a manner in sync with God's love of the child, she said.
Prior to teaching at Cleveland Court, Rakes taught middle school-level science at Calvary Christian Academy in Ormond Beach, Florida. She started her career in Polk County, Florida, teaching fifth-grade at Bethune Academy, sixth-grade at Highlands City Elementary School and fourth-grade at Hillcrest Elementary School. Her husband, Greg Rakes, is a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Rochelle School of the Arts in Lakeland and also graduated from Southeastern. Lori Rakes took eight years off to care for their four sons, who range in age from 4 to 15.
Lori Rakes, who has taught at Cleveland Court for the last seven years, also credits Southeastern with giving her a love of learning. She recalls not being able to wait to get to classes taught by former Southeastern Education Instructor Roger Cadenhead because he taught information about human behavior that she could use immediately. Lori Rakes is currently completing requirements to become a nationally certified teacher; after attaining that, she plans to pursue a master's degree.