Dr. Becky Huechteman: Professor of Education
February 4, 2013
Dr. Becky Huechteman jokes that she has been “stuck in school forever.” Ever since she was a small child “teaching” her dolls and her parakeet, she has had a desire to help people learn. From her days as a 13-year-old Sunday school helper to her current position as professor of education at Evangel University, that desire has never faded.
Dr. Huechteman has been teaching education courses at Evangel for more than 30 years. Along with teaching undergraduate courses in reading and math education, Dr. Huechteman serves as the coordinator of Evangel’s Master of Education in Literacy program, which she helped build from the ground up. She is also a current sponsor of the Student Missouri State Teachers Association and works with Evangel’s Partners in Education schools.
The wife of Evangel mathematics professor Dr. Duane Huechteman, Dr. Becky Huechteman enjoys reading and being active in her church’s music program. She and her husband have two sons, Eric and Brett, who also graduated from Evangel. She also has twin granddaughters, who she says have totally changed her life.
What were you involved in as a student here at Evangel?
I was very involved as a student. During my freshman year, I served in student government. I was involved in planning HarvestFest and other events on campus, and was in the college chorus and chorale. Being involved in these activities provided the opportunity for friendships with people from all over the world and the United States. My idea of the world was greatly expanded.
Your husband, Dr. Duane Huechteman, also attended Evangel. Is there a fun story about how you first met?
Yes. One day I saw him across the cafeteria, and I thought he was making odd faces at me, but he was really just smiling. My husband has a smile where he really crinkles up his nose. I made a face back at him, so he came over to talk to me. It was then that I realized he was smiling and not making a face. He told me that he knew my sister, who is three years older than I am. He had been in concert choir with my sister and made friends with her, and when he heard she had a younger sister, he decided he wanted to meet me. That day in the cafeteria, he was making his first move. We began dating after that and got married after my sophomore year.
What brought you back to Evangel to become a professor?
My husband returned first, in 1976, as a math instructor. After he’d been here for a while, the department chair in Education mentioned that they needed to hire someone who had a degree in reading to help update and revise the literacy courses. At the time, I was just finishing my master’s in reading, so I applied for the job. I taught reading courses on a part-time basis for three years, and then was hired full time in the Education Department.
What has been the most rewarding part of your Evangel career?
The most rewarding part is having students come back 10 or 20 years later and say, “You believed in me, and I wouldn’t have been a teacher if it hadn’t been for your inspiration.”
One of my favorite “real” stories? A former student called me and expressed, “I wanted to let you know that I just completed my master’s degree. I can remember there were people who thought I’d never get my bachelor’s degree and certainly not be a teacher. But while I was at Evangel, you believed in me and kept encouraging me to go on. I’ve been teaching in the same early childhood center for 20 years and I love what I do. Thank you.”
Those kinds of things are really heartwarming. It makes you realize you really are where you’re supposed to be, and it’s where God’s called you. Sometimes you don’t get to hear the success stories, but it’s wonderful when you do hear that you’re making a difference.
What is the best part about Evangel’s Department of Education?
I’ve been here for 31 years, going on 32. I’ve worked my way up to professor, and always, even from the very beginning, I would say the best part is the people. We have an absolutely high-quality, hard-working, fun group of people together in one department, and you never know what’s going to happen here. It keeps you on your toes. You may show up one day and find a bear wearing a tutu, or Sylvester the cat sitting in your chair. We did that to Dr. Stringer – the bear with a tutu was on his shelf with all his footballs, which we thought was funny since he’s a football coach.
We have a lot of fun, but we’re very collaborative and serious about our work and our students. You don’t feel like there’s competitiveness. You want to come to work every day. We also have the most amazing students. They come from diverse backgrounds and bring in such a variety of experiences. Most of them know that God has placed a desire in their hearts to be teachers. It is exciting to see them grow and develop into professional educators.
You are the coordinator for Evangel’s Master of Education in Reading program. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
I was the department chair in 1998 when the graduate programs were initiated. I had the honor of designing and planning the Master’s degree in Reading. My doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction/Reading, and I hoped to create a program that would prepare teachers to be better literacy teachers in the classroom and also train them to become reading specialists and literacy leaders. The program has been very successful, and many of the program graduates are now literacy coaches and special reading teachers.
What advice do you have for students looking at coming to Evangel?
You can’t find a better place to get an Education degree. We have national accreditation; not all schools do. We have an outstanding, qualified faculty who care about students and have the desire to see that you will be successful. If you want to learn in a Christian environment and successfully prepare for the teaching profession, this is where you need to be.