Follow the Leader
Apr 20, 2023
James Houle is the perfect representation of leading by example.
Houle even has an award to prove it.
The National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) named Houle an Emerging PDS Leader at the organization’s annual conference recently.
“Mr. Houle was selected for the 2023 awards due to his contributions to the organization and service to his home institution in merit of the nine essentials of PDS,” the organization said in its press release announcing the honor. “The Emerging PDS Leader Award was given to one university student that has demonstrated promising leadership to advance the research and practice of school-university partnerships.”
Even if Houle, who will graduate this Fall with a degree in Elementary Education, had not been selected for the NAPDS honor his resume is brimming with service to Florida Southern.
Houle is heavily involved with the College’s Southern Ambassador program, serving as its Director of Leadership. That title enables Houle to help the student tour guides learn their roles, which allows him to do what he feels he does best, teach. It is what set him apart for the PDS award, which is usually given to students pursuing postgraduate degrees.
“I think a part of what made me a strong contender is my leadership skill on campus, with being the Director of Leadership for the Southern Ambassador Program,” said Houle, who is also involved with the Student Government Association as a Senator and a Resident Advisor.
Houle has earned the right to feel like his future is going to be bright, but he is more concerned with those who will come after him, the children.
That is why Houle is studying Elementary Education. He wants to make sure the next generation is ready to lead as well, and it all starts with literacy.
“I really wanted to work with a population I could serve the best,” Houle said. “Being able to teach someone how to read is the best way to serve somebody. When I was a senior in high school, I actually worked in a kindergarten classroom, and I loved it. That’s where I realized I really had a knack for teaching kids and being able to be an advocate for them, to be a supportive male role model for them because a lot of students don’t have that in their lives.”
Reinforcement for his love of teaching children came from a recent addition to his family when his older brother and sister’s young sons had their first Christmas.
Houle was right there reading to his nephews and helping them develop their language skills.
“I’m definitely going to make sure that they’re going to be good readers before they’re even in second or third grade,” he said.
Out of the Classroom
Houle does not just want to get involved with teaching, he also wants to get involved in policy making.
He plans on getting a master’s degree and then pursuing a doctoral degree while he works to help mold the minds of the future.
“I want to become a student advocate for students who aren’t receiving the types of accommodations that they deserve,” Houle said. “I want to make sure they get the right kinds of policy. I also want to help alleviate some of the teacher burnout. I’m looking to become a superintendent.”
While on his journey Houle has made sure that he will always have a place to thank Florida Southern College for making his dreams a reality.
Whatever the future may hold for Houle, he will always be a representative of Florida Southern. It is a badge he proudly wears.
“It’s really important to me to represent Florida Southern,” he said. “I will say that until the day I die. The opportunities that they’ve given me have been incredible. They have allowed me to build relationships by training and teaching within the Southern Ambassador Program. Building those relationships, to make sure we have a good culture in our community and that we’re able to recruit the next set of students that are going to come in is big for me. I’m very happy with the relationships I’ve made here. Florida Southern is the place for relationships and that is what makes it stand out from other communities.”