What brought you to Evangel?
Over the years, I had looked at various graduate programs, but none of them seemed like the right fit. One of my coworkers shared information with me about Evangel’s Master of Education in Literacy degree, and it was exactly what I had been searching for. Not only was the tuition very affordable and all of the courses were online, but the degree provided me with the essential tools I needed for a deeper understanding of literacy to help my students. (Two of my coworkers and I enrolled together, so it was a blessing to be able to support and encourage each other along the way.)
How did you know that the Master of Education in Literacy program was your calling?
After working with junior high and high school students, I was not adequately prepared to work with elementary students who did not know their letters and sounds. I quickly realized that for my students to reach their highest potential, I needed more education/training. I needed a program that would teach me the basics of reading and help me be an asset to my students and to my school. I was excited to enroll into Evangel’s graduate program because I knew they would offer the courses I needed to make the difference in my students’ education.
How would you best describe your time at Evangel?
My time at Evangel was very rewarding. My educational career was enriched, and my spirit was encouraged.
In what ways did the department impact you?
Even though I had received my undergraduate degree from a Christian university, I hadn’t thought it would make much of a difference in what college I chose for my graduate program, especially since the classes would all be online. However, my professors and their faith, support, and encouragement were what helped keep me focused while being a full-time teacher, mom, wife, etc. They not only guided me academically, but they also nurtured me spiritually. I knew they were always there to answer any questions I might have, to encourage me when I became overwhelmed, or to pray for me when I had a need.
Academically, I was challenged to rethink my educational philosophy, to think outside the box, and to strive to be the literacy leader they knew I could be. Education is constantly changing, and my professors presented numerous research-based theories that I was not familiar with which encouraged me to dig deeper into how students learn. My students have benefitted not only from what I learned in my graduate classes, but also from how my love for learning was renewed.
How have you seen God present through your educational journey and career?
While at Evangel, one of my professors challenged us with this question, “In whatever role God calls you to, are you there to display His glory and to honor His name?” When I look back over my educational journey, I feel like all I see is God’s presence and direction. There have been several moments throughout my educational career when I wasn’t sure why God was taking me down the path He was leading me. I taught in the regular education classroom for one year before God showed me that special education was where I needed to be. I have always had a passion to help struggling readers, but being a special education teacher had never been on my radar before.
My undergraduate degree was in elementary education with an emphasis in early childhood; however, with my special education certification I was certified to teach students through twelfth grade. When my school district asked me to teach junior high and high school special education students, my first response was an adamant, “No thank you.” However, after praying about it, my response became, “God, I will serve you wherever you put me.”
Eleven years later when my family moved, I applied for a junior high special education position, but God placed me back in the elementary school. Even though I felt like I had to completely change my teaching approach and receive more education, I was excited about the opportunity to work with students at the beginning of their educational career in hopes that I could help close those academic gaps at an earlier age. Even though my educational journey has had some major twists and turns, I have realized along the way to recognize God’s leading and to serve Him wherever He needs me.
What would you say to a student considering coming to Evangel and pursuing a degree in early childhood education?
The education department at Evangel is fantastic. Even though I was not physically on campus, the professors went above and beyond to make connections with each of us and to help us make connections with each other. Graduating with my master’s degree was bittersweet because I had enjoyed the challenges of my classes and the relationships I had developed along the way.