BA in Elementary Education, Southeastern College
MEd in Elementary Education, Southeastern University
In 1980, newlyweds James and Teresa Paton headed to Lakeland, Florida, to attend Southeastern Bible College. Little did they know at the time, God’s plan for them would bring them full circle to give back to their alma mater. Southeastern has become a Paton family tradition, as each of Professor Teresa Paton’s immediate family members have earned or are pursuing SEU degrees. Teaching at Southeastern is a great fit for Professor Paton, as she believes in preparing young people to serve God while serving in their vocations.
Dr. Paton began her teaching career in 1980 as a paraprofessional in exceptional student education (ESE) while pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education at Southeastern Bible College. Upon completion of her degree, she obtained her Florida teaching certificate with certifications in elementary education, early childhood education, and Bible education. As a first-year classroom teacher with a heart for ESE students, Professor Paton was hired out of her certification area to teach learning disabled high school students. During that year, she attended Florida Southern College and the University of South Florida to gain the 18 credit hours needed for the Florida certification in specific learning disabilities.
Dr. Paton has taught elementary, middle, secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities in both resource and self-contained classrooms. She comes to Southeastern, now as a full-time professor, with more than 30 years of experience as a teacher in the Polk County School system, home educator, professor/coordinator of an intellectually disabled adult college transition program and adjunct professor for the College of Education and College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at SEU. Additionally, she was awarded the Red Cross Life Saving Award in 1982 and named the Dundee Elementary Teacher of the Year and a Polk County Teacher of the Year top ten finalist in 1989.
Dr. Paton earned her Doctor of Education with a concentration in exceptional student education. Her research interests include self-disclosure of degree-seeking college students, learning accommodations and student success, as well as faculty and staff acceptance of disabled students attending college, all of which are part of her dissertation. She is active in the girls’ ministry program at her church and ministers alongside her husband, James. Dr. Paton will continue to serve as the College of Education’s Florida Department of Education data entry liaison. In addition, she will teach Field Study 1 and the ESE Field Study courses and provide support to the College of Education Student Teaching course.