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Chloe Bolyard: ‘In education I found a profession where I wake up excited every day’

November 19, 2014 | Ian Richardson

From her days “unofficially” tutoring fellow high school students to her recent award-winning writing in pursuit of her doctorate, Chloé (Shank) Bolyard has been a lifelong leader and learner.

Bolyard, who holds both a bachelor’s (’08) and master’s (’12) in education from Evangel, is currently studying for her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in leadership, culture and curriculum at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she has one semester of courses remaining before moving into her comprehensive exam and dissertation work. In September, Bolyard received the Outstanding Student Paper Award from the Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society for her paper “Test-Based Teacher Evaluations: Responsibility vs. Accountability.” She also works through the university as a graduate assistant, teaching two sections of a teacher leadership class to undergraduate students.

Her pursuit of a career in education has provided her with an opportunity to combine her leadership abilities and love of learning, and it is an endeavor she says keeps her in a constant state of excitement.

“In education, I found a profession where I wake up excited every day and go to bed dreaming about teaching,” she says.

Bolyard’s desire to teach began in high school as she helped her classmates with school work and volunteered at vacation Bible schools. She began to see her desire to teach was more than a career choice; it was a call to reach out to others.

One Sunday during her sophomore year of high school, Bolyard found an advertisement for Evangel University in the Pentecostal Evangel. Because of Evangel’s affiliation with the Assemblies of God and its “moderately adventurous” distance from home, she put it at the top of her potential colleges list.

During her senior year, Bolyard visited campus with her best friend and future college roommate. This visit made her even surer that Evangel was the place for her.

“I was impressed by how friendly the staff, students and faculty were, especially my admissions adviser,” she says. “I was also impressed with the ubiquitous desire to integrate faith with all aspects of life generally and with learning in particular.”

Bolyard began attending in the fall of 2004. While a student, she served as a new-student orientation leader, devotional leader, cheerleader and vice president for her floor in Burgess Hall. She also continued her study of French under the guidance of Dr. Robert Turnbull, professor of French. She participated in a five-week study trip to Europe, which she says was her favorite extracurricular experience while at Evangel.

“Having studied French for eight years, this trip provided me with my first opportunity to converse with native French speakers,” she says. “I also learned to understand and celebrate a history and culture different from my own.”

Following graduation, Bolyard began teaching third grade at Jeffries Elementary in Springfield, the same location she had completed her student teaching. She says her training through Evangel prepared her well for a smooth transition from college student to classroom teacher.

While teaching, Bolyard continued her studies at Evangel through the Educational Leadership graduate program. After teaching at Jeffries for four and a half years and graduating with her master’s in 2012, Bolyard moved to Ohio to begin work on her doctoral program.

Of her undergraduate and graduate professors, Bolyard says Education Department chairperson Dr. Colleen Hardy had the most impact on her continued pursuit of learning, including her decision to study for her doctorate.

“During my master’s work at Evangel, she reiterated how school leaders must be ‘well read and well written,’ emphasizing the importance of continued learning,” Bolyard says. “Seeing the high standards that she set for herself and for her students motivated me to continue my education through a terminal degree and beyond.”

As Bolyard looks toward her future, she is considering several options, such as returning to teach in the elementary classroom, leading teachers on the district level and training teachers at the collegiate level.

“Maybe I will do them all eventually,” she says. “I believe that God will open doors and lead my path. He has been faithful so far.”

Whichever route she chooses, Bolyard sees the world of education as a ministry opportunity, one where her view of teaching as a calling affects the decisions she makes. Her advice to college students is to seek out the classes and extracurricular activities that excite them. For those in the education field, she encourages them to realize the importance of their career path.

“Know that the profession is more challenging than many realize,” she says. “Let those challenges drive you. Be committed. You are in a position of immense power to shape future generations.”