Concordia St. Paul News

January 31, 2019

Celebrating National Lutheran Schools Week with CSP Alumna Sarah Culbert

Sarah Culbert graduated from CSP in 2015 with an elementary education major, Lutheran confessions minor, and preschool endorsement. Today, she is a preschool teacher at King of Kings Lutheran School in Roseville, Minnesota. As part of National Lutheran Schools Week, we had the opportunity to ask Sarah about her calling as a Lutheran school teacher and how CSP helped prepare her for her life of purpose.

CSP Elementary Education graduate Sarah Culbert

CSP alumna Sarah Culbert teaches preschool at King of Kings Lutheran School in Roseville, Minnesota.

Q: What were your most important factors to consider when you were selecting a college?

A: All my life, I knew I was going to be a Lutheran classroom teacher. When I was in kindergarten, I asked my mom why I had to continue to go to school if I already knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to college at age 6! I went to Central Lutheran School and we participated in a lot of functions with CSP as they were just down the street. I had been on CSP’s campus since I was little and it felt like home. I was planning to live off campus, so CSP was the best choice for getting my Lutheran Classroom Teaching degree as it was only 15 minutes away from home.

Q: Why did you ultimately choose Concordia University, St. Paul?

A: I ultimately chose CSP because I wanted to be a Lutheran Classroom Teacher. Concordia would ultimately prepare and provide me with the knowledge and skills to step into a private school and teach and share the wonderful news of our Lord. Helping plant the seed of faith in the lives of children is my passion, which happens to be the same passion as the LCT program at CSP.

Q: Concordia’s campus is an urban, diverse location. In what ways did these campus attributes help prepare you for your career?

A: For one semester, I participated in an after-school program in a downtown, low-income community. This experience helped to expand my thoughts on how much every single child needs to have someone in their life they know they can trust. It helped me truly realize that I will never know the full life of my students. However, I know when they are in my classroom they are going to get my very best, and I will always strive to be a stable person they can trust.

Q: Talk about a professor who’s been especially helpful or influential. In what ways did this professor impact your time at Concordia and your career?

A: I would not have been successful without the loving, amazing guidance of my advisor, Dr. Michele Pickel. Dr. Pickel, when I was declaring my major, suggested that I add preschool for an endorsement. I was hesitant but obliged her suggestion. I am so happy I did; as soon as I stepped into my student teaching classroom, I knew that was exactly what God’s plans were for me. Dr. Pickel also went above and beyond when it came to the Minnesota Teaching License Exams. I was having a very hard time passing the reading and writing timed tests. Dr. Pickel helped me with strategies and was there to answer any and all questions I had within minutes. If a failed result came back, she would keep working with me on more strategies. I was sitting in the car when I received an email from the testing center with a result for one of the tests. I opened it and the word PASS was proudly presented in the middle of the email. I immediately called Dr. Pickel and while bawling my eyes out, I told her the news. She started crying as well, and I thanked her for helping me achieve my dream, while she declared how proud she was of me.  Even as I am writing this story, I am crying over how blessed I am to have had Dr. Pickel as my advisor and professor. She is amazing and I would have never been able to achieve my dream without her.

Q: Choose a moment that could sum up what you value most about your time at Concordia.

A: When I was at the service of sending for all the Lutheran Classroom Teachers my graduating year, the pastor told us to, “hang on dude” quoting Finding Nemo. He said to hold on, because life is going to be bumpy and rough, but if we are holding onto the Lord, our path will be straight and a great ride. That is what I value most about my time at Concordia, being with people who strive to serve and follow our Lord, learning from each other, and growing with them in so many ways.  

Q: Is there a specific project or class that you refer back to in your work as a Lutheran school teacher? What about that project/experience/class made it so relevant?

A: I often look back to every class I had with Sue Starks. She is the Queen of Early Childhood Education. Every time I move something in my classroom, take out a story, set up a center, or write a lesson, I think of Sue and how she taught us to always think of our students. Any and all of Sue Stark’s classes are top notch!

Q: Would you consider teaching your purpose? What does that mean to you?

A: I would consider teaching my purpose. It means a lot to me because it is such a great responsibility. It is also mentally and physically draining some days. But then there are those moments when a four-year-old tells you, “Miss Culbert, when you were talking about Jesus it refilled my batteries,” and you realize God has you there for that exact reason. God’s purpose for me has always been to be a Lutheran Teacher, and I do not take that responsibility lightly.

Q: In what ways do you feel CSP prepared you to pursue your path?

A: With the professors and theology classes, CSP prepared me to teach my students and help them grow in their education, social and emotional development, and faith.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share at this time?

A: Thank you, CSP, for helping me achieve God’s call for me.

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