Joycelyn Williams-Green is proud to be both college professor and college student. Professor Williams-Green is Senior Lecturer of Educational Psychology and Special Needs at Antigua State College. She teaches teachers, mentoring them in how to do their jobs even better, especially in the area of special education. While often standing behind the podium as professor, […]
Because Technology Revolutionizes Education An interview with Ted Klug BS ’97, MS ’18 When Ted Klug was considering a master’s degree program as the next step in his professional development, he knew what field he wanted to explore: technology. As Lakeside LHS director of technology, Ted had already seen major changes in classrooms because of […]
For Kate (Hieb) Krieger (BS ’10, MS ’17), relationships mean everything. That belief has guided her teaching, her master’s studies, and now the new courses she’s developing as an MLC continuing education adjunct instructor. Maybe relationships are so important because Kate’s a third-culture kid. Born in Japan in 1987, where her parents were WELS missionaries, […]
Effective Leaders Make Others Better In both his words and his ministry, Tom Plitzuweit captures a foundational premise of leadership: “A big part of being a leader is to help those around me get better.” In all the leadership calls he has filled, he has devoted himself to making those around him better. That’s why […]
Duane Vance can’t say enough good things about the Martin Luther College master’s program. “I never imagined what kind of impact the graduate studies program would have on our ministry here,” he says.
Something few people know about Jessica (Rozek) Zahrt is that she’s a twin. Jessica’s twin sister has some cognitive disabilities, and, growing up, Jessica saw how other kids sometimes picked on her. Maybe that’s why Jessica is the teacher she is today, one who not only molds little minds but also massages little hearts with […]
Ask 2010 MS Ed graduate Ben Bain what makes his work as principal and teacher at St. John’s in Red Wing, MN, special, and he’s likely to say, “The people I get to work with really make this a special place, and that’s been a real privilege.”
In fact, the congregation, parents and faculty have supported his graduate studies in various ways. The congregation helped pay for some of his credits. Ben adds, “People have said things to me like, ‘It’s good that you’re doing that.’”
When Ben received his diploma in May 2010, the people he serves celebrated with him. The congregation honored Ben with a reception. In a separate party his pastor, faculty, and staff held a “mock” graduation ceremony. “The party was a bit crazy,” wrote Ben. The pictures show Pastor Loren Lucht in his “regalia” awarding Ben (dunce cap) while the faculty looks on.
Why did Ben choose to get his master’s degree? “I just felt like there was so much more to learn.” He asked himself, “How do I hone those skills? What do I need to do to better help the kids learn?” Ben enrolled in the MLC master’s program in the instruction emphasis.
Ben found that the MLC master’s program helped him reach his goals right away. “One of the first courses I took was about Reading and Language Arts. When I came back, I began to use a number of pieces. There were things that I had tried in the past that didn’t work out, and now I felt more comfortable on how I can approach it so that I’m not cheating the kids of certain things. And yet I’m giving them the opportunity to grow and learn.”
Ben likes to give his students ownership in the curriculum. He related a Science unit on natural disasters in which the students devised their questions and got to pick what they wanted to learn. Ben taught them how to research, cite references and structure their learning. They did the rest and shared what they learned in power point presentations. Why? “They’re finding more information than what there was in the book in the first place, and they’re more interested in it than just, ‘read this chapter in the book,’” says Ben.
This past summer, the enrollment at Ben’s school took a jump. Its reputation for Christian love and academics is well-known, and when a different Christian school closed, many looked to St. John’s. Ben and his school serve as an excellent example of what continuing education for teachers is all about.
Amy serves as a preschool aide and Sunday school coordinator at Salem – Woodbury MN. She also started an additional outreach program at Salem called Smart Start. Working as a volunteer, she holds a music class for parents and children ages 0-5 on Mondays, and a toddler class on Tuesdays.
“My joy is seeing all these young people walking through the doors of our church each week with their parents,” she says. “The exposure we have and the relationships we are able to form with the families in the community have been real blessings. I love working with young children. They give all they have, whatever it is they are doing.”
Amy began taking MLC master’s classes in 2009. “In all honesty, I didn’t start out really thinking about getting a master’s. I took the first class because it was something that interested me. After that I just kept going, and now I’m two classes from finishing my degree.”
Amy chose the Instruction emphasis for two reasons: family and church, not surprisingly. “I wanted to be able to use what I would learn with my children at home,” she says. “And I wanted to be able to be a resource to our church and the ministries we were looking to pursue in the future.”
As far as family is concerned, Amy says her two boys have served as guinea pigs for various new ideas she’s learned—“and very willingly, I might add.”
Her ministry at church and school has been affected by her professional growth as well: “I think it is important to be educated on the changes happening in teaching and instruction today. Knowing about the different methods used around the country helps the preschool program to be as strong as it can be, so that nothing stands in the way of the gospel message we want to proclaim.”
The format of MLC’s program worked well for Amy. “I love the flexibility that the program gives me as a mom,” she says. “I fit the work into the busy schedule we have as a family and am able to work at it when my boys are busy doing other things or after they’re in bed for the night. Of course there are times when that isn’t enough, and my family has been really supportive of the time I spend ‘doing my classwork,’ as my boys would say. It has been pretty neat for them to see that mom still has things to learn too.”
Studying with fellow believers has also been a blessing. “I think the strength that this program provides spiritually has been a huge impact to my faith. I’ve grown in my own understanding of the grace of my Savior. And hearing struggles and joys that other teachers around the country have is so meaningful. It brings everyone together in the work they are doing and encourages people to grow in their abilities because they are working for the Lord.”
The family and church balancing act continues for Amy. While she works on her final master’s courses, her husband, who is a U.S. Air Force pilot, is sometimes deployed, and her two boys keep her very busy. “I love spending time with my family,” she says. “I love seeing my two boys learn new things and play together. We love hiking and exploring as a family and finding new places in the area that we haven’t been before. We also love airports and traveling, and feel comfortable hopping on a plane and heading across the country! My oldest son took his first flight at 16 days old, and since then he probably has over 100 take-offs and landings to his name!”
When her husband returns from his most recent deployment this summer, the family will move to Onalaska, Wisconsin, near La Crosse. And Amy will continue to study. “At the beginning of every class I take,” she says, “I am always nervous about the time I have to commit in order to get out of the class what I’d like. Then I read the introductions of everyone else in the class, and they are just as busy and just as anxious about spending time at their ministries and with their families. Somehow we all make it through.”
As she packs boxes, she says, “I am excited to get involved with the ministries at our church in Onalaska. I know that God has a plan for how I can serve in our next stage in life.”
(Article written by Laurie Gauger)
July 8, 2010, was an important day for Rachel Perry Burgess ’02. She handed her comprehensive examination to Director of Graduate Studies John Meyer, marking the culmination of her graduate work at Martin Luther College.
Emphasis: Of the three emphases—instruction, special education, and leadership—Rachel opted for leadership because the classes seemed most applicable for her work as an ECE director. She says she didn’t necessarily start out trying to get a degree, but just wanted to take courses that were interesting and practical. (Cognitive psychology is just one of the courses she really loved.) When she realized she was well on her way to her degree, she decided to finish the program.
Her call: Rachel is currently the director of an ECE at Trinity-Caledonia WI, where she teaches children ages 3-5 five mornings a week. Previously, she served in ECE ministries in Baton Rouge LA, La Crescent MN, and Inver Grove Heights MN; as a kindergarten teacher in West Allis WI; and as director of a KinderCare Learning Center in Brookfield WI. (Why so many places? As the wife of a seminary student and new pastor, she moved quite a bit.)
Flexibility: The flexibility provided by the online facet of the program was important to Rachel. “I knew I’d be moving three years in a row, so it was good to have it online, because I could do it anywhere. It was nice to be able to work on Saturdays. My husband is a pastor, so he’s busy on Saturdays, and I could set my schedule according to his. Also, if we were planning a camping trip, I could work ahead. I also worked at the YMCA till 10 pm, and I could work online after that or early in the morning.”
Community: She also appreciated the online community. “Almost every course starts with introducing yourself. Profs make sure that everyone is communicating and working together. And most students had a WaterCooler line on Moodle, which is for more personal things: carpools, recipes, baby news, calls, that sort of thing.”
Applicability: “The projects weren’t just assignments. They were applicable right away. And most of the profs were open to you tweaking the assignments to make sure that they fit your situation.
“My courses on assessment and administration were directly applicable. I immediately made small changes in my class the very next day, and now that I’m done with the program, I want to go back through my notes and see what I want to implement first. There are so many things, but which do I want to do first?”
Variety: Some may wonder whether coming back to MLC means they’ll just get more of the same. Rachel says, “No! I only had one of these profs before—Dr. Menk. Everything changes. You have a variety of people with different pasts, including profs from WLC and profs who’d never even set foot on the MLC campus before. There’s a variety of new methods and perspectives—and even the content is different. The profs are not teaching the same thing you learned in undergrad work.”
Rigor: “People who’ve taken courses elsewhere say that MLC courses are harder, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I didn’t feel overworked, but I did have to work. It stretched me, and there were times when it was a lot, but it is a master’s program.”
Professional growth: “The biggest change in my ministry would be that I have a better communication system with the families and communities I serve. Open-ended communication with parents affects so many things. I’ve also found that parents are looking for their children’s teachers to be seeking more education.
I’m an ECE director, but I don’t have any children, which is a stumbling block for some parents. So for me to be able to tell parents that I have my master’s degree—that’s a marketing tool. Parents are looking at the teacher’s education and the school’s accreditation. It gives credibility.”
A Second Master’s Degree—Totally Worth It!
Why another graduate degree?
Mr. Gustafson says he enjoyed studying for his first master’s degree and saw how it made him a better teacher—a profession he loves. “For the past 31 years, I’ve really enjoyed being in the classroom each day with my students. It gives me the opportunity to see them learn new things, and I enjoy sharing the Word with them.”
When he transitioned to the call of principal, he knew he had more to learn. “The role of the principal is changing, and I needed a stronger background in administration.” Although another principal early in his ministry had served as a good role model, Tim wanted to take more coursework too.
The problem was time. As principal and grade 7-8 departmental teacher at David’s Star-Jackson, Wisconsin, his time was at a premium. “I’m in the classroom two-thirds of the day, and the other third I’m working on my administrative duties. My biggest challenge is finding the time to do everything and do it well. I couldn’t find a master’s program that fit my schedule,” he says.
The MLC program sounded good, with its flexibility and convenience, but he was hesitant about taking all his classes online. It wasn’t until a colleague finished the program and told Tim it would really benefit his ministry that he decided to take the plunge.
“It didn’t take very long before my concerns about working online were put to rest,” he says. “The online format allows for flexibility with your time, which works perfectly for a busy WELS teacher. I could work on my assignments early in the morning or late at night.”
Tim was pleased with the content as well. The instruction courses showed him many ways to improve his teaching and assessment, and he successfully incorporated them into his classroom. The leadership courses helped him better understand his role as a principal. “I think that’s helped me do a better job of working with curriculum and leading my staff,” he says.
But it was the scriptural foundation of the program that really made it worthwhile. “Everything in the classes was focused on God’s Word and how we can further his kingdom. I like taking classes with other WELS teachers because my faith is strengthened as I work with them. We generally come from similar backgrounds and work in similar situations, so it’s a great way to exchange ideas.”
Mr. Gustafson is grateful to David’s Star congregation for their encouragement, prayers, and tuition reimbursement. “If I wouldn’t have had this support from the congregation, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my master’s,” he says.
And he also wants to encourage other teachers to enroll in the program, just as his colleague first encouraged him. In fact, his son Phil has already taken his advice to heart and is enrolled in the program now. Tim says: “Don’t wait to get started! At the beginning it seems like a long process, but the classes are well worth the time and effort. The faculty was great to work with and was very encouraging along the way. It’s a great way to improve your God-given talents, and your ministry will really benefit.”
More on Tim Gustafson DMLC ’83, MLC ’14
Wife: Rachel DMLC ’83, grade 2 teacher at David’s Star
Four sons: Philip (27) MLC ’09 teaches at St. Mark-Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Phil is also in MLC’s master’s program. Stephan (24) works and lives in Wausau, Wisconsin. Jacob (22) is a senior at WLC majoring in business finance. Caleb (16) is a junior at Kettle Moraine LHS.
Hobbies: golfing and reading history and historical fiction
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