Since Beth Persons was a child, she always wanted to teach.
In fact, her dream was to go to Missouri State University. However, the nearly 80-mile trip from Neosho to Springfield multiple times a week for classes just was not doable for her.
Her dream sat dormant for many years, while she educated her own children.
She became a homeschool teacher instead. Once her kids went onto college themselves, though, she wanted to keep doing what she loves. That’s when a friend told her about Missouri State’s elementary education program in Neosho.
The elementary education bachelor’s degree completion cohorts at Crowder College in Neosho start each summer.
These are designed so students can complete their bachelor’s degree in just an additional two years, alongside the same classmates.
The transition from being a homeschool teacher to going to college was natural for Beth. Her kids were attending Crowder College at the same time as her. So, she went from helping them with their schoolwork,
doing her schoolwork alongside them.
Beth loved attending school at Crowder. Not only was she attending the same college as her kids, but the school itself had the feel of a family. As she continued with her bachelor’s degree after earning her associate’s in teaching at Crowder, she found support in her advisors and teachers.
MSU’s elementary education program in Neosho and other satellite locations are taught by local instructors. Missouri State partners with the community colleges to bring our well-known education program to rural areas. This way, students don’t have to travel to Springfield to earn their degree and are able to form connections in the local community.
For Beth, one of the best parts of MSU in Neosho was that her instructors were “boots on the ground” instructors who actually taught in Neosho. Her teachers taught practical, hands-on strategies that worked in their classrooms.
She learned strategies and classroom management from people who actually knew what they were talking about, not from someone who has only taught in a college classroom.
Finding success in her own classroom
Because of MSU’s elementary education program in Neosho, Beth was able to go on to get a master’s degree so she could teach English language (EL) learners.
She graduated with her bachelor’s in December 2011, enrolled in her master’s program in January 2012 and completed it in May 2013.
According to Beth, earning a master’s “was for sure an impossible dream” that wouldn’t have been possible without MSU in Neosho.
“You’re more than a teacher. You’re a role model.”
Now, Beth is a Kindergarten through third grade EL teacher in Carthage. Her job is important and rewarding. Beth works with students who are learning English in the classroom.
Through her position, she works with the teachers and students to identify what accommodations the students need. This provides more of a co-teaching model where EL students can stay in the classroom with their peers instead of being pulled out of class.
Beth gave more insight into an EL classroom, since not everyone is familiar with it:
· Her students love learning and are hungry to learn
· She builds strong friendships with her students in a no-judgement zone
· The goal is to bring content where they are, so they’re not held back by the language barrier
· The focus is on writing and speaking, as elementary students often have a better understanding of reading and listening
As for elementary school as a whole, Beth had this to say:
“We’re more than academics. We’re a safe place where students feel loved and respected. We’re a place for hope. We’re running water, working bathrooms, and two meals a day for many of our students. It’s so much more than just academics.”
Advice for future students
Through her experience in the classroom, Beth has gained a lot of insight. She had this advice to offer for future elementary education students and teachers:
· Be very flexible.
· Be prepared for teamwork. If you want to work alone, this may not be the job for you.
· You’ll get attached, and they will, too.
· There is a lot of work outside of the classroom, but there’s a lot of rewards, too.
The elementary education bachelor’s degree completion cohorts at Crowder College in Neosho start each summer. Contact Larry Nichols for more details.