Family comes first for Amy Schmeling Bryant(’03), but she also wants to serve her church. With God’s blessing, she has managed to balance them both—beautifully.
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)