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November 8, 2018
Concordia Student Combines Passion for Teaching and Continuous Learning
Naomi Sandgren is a fourth-grade teacher in the New Prague school district and is pursuing her Master of Education in curriculum and instruction at Concordia St. Paul. We caught up with her to discuss what sets Concordia’s program apart and how it is preparing her for the next steps of her career path as an educator.
Q: What do you think creates a quality academic experience? How have you found that at CSP?
A: I think that a quality education is deep – it has to cover a lot of information. I look for professors who are knowledgeable. That’s huge to me. I’m able to press them for more information. All of my CSP professors have been that so far. All of them have been so helpful and available. I’m looking for something succinct and to-the-point that I know what I’m learning is applied to what I do. What I’m learning at CSP is so intertwined with what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Give me an example of something you’ve learned from CSP’s program and how you’ve applied it in your day-to-day.
A: I had a class that was about K-6 reading strategy. I was able to take one of my textbooks and basically give a lesson from that book and it worked in the classroom. I’m able to save all of my texts for different ideas. They are a wealth of knowledge. This experience has allowed me to become more confident in myself as a teacher and a leader in my school. I feel more confident in my knowledge. To be a younger teacher, sometimes people look down and say that you don’t know – but I do.
Q: Do you feel that you have established significant relationships with the faculty? What importance do those relationships have on the quality of your education experience?
A: All of my professors are available by email and are so friendly. It’s the little things they share about their weekend; they remember things about you even though you’re not face-to-face. It makes me want to work harder because I have that personal relationship – they know what I’m capable of, my work. One of my early professors, Anne Neilitz, was so fun and made the program seem so do-able as a teacher. She would read my papers and relate them to other work of mine. The professors are so passionate about the program, education, and creating quality educators. That’s meaningful to me.
Q: Have you encountered any challenges during your time at Concordia? If so, what were they and how have you overcome them?
A: I really had to learn how I worked best. I don’t “do” school at home. I spend a lot of time at coffee shops. I could say that my classroom is the coffee shop because that’s where I do the majority of my work. I write out lists – lists for what needs to get done right now. I schedule my week out: when I need to do readings, study nights. The juggling hasn’t been too much of a problem because I know this is for two years and this is what it is going to be – then I’m done!
Q: What are your goals post-graduation?
A: Eventually, I could see myself as a literacy coach which could be district-wide or for elementary level or middle school. I could see myself helping teachers and be their go-to for literacy help.
Q: What skills do you hope to sharpen during the remainder of your time at CSP to help you achieve them?
A: Every class that I have had has opened some new door or skill. I’m excited about the quantity of information that I learn each class and how I’m able to become a better educator because of everything that I learn. Even if it doesn’t apply directly, I’m able to see it as part of the bigger picture and adapt it to what I can use the next day.
Q: How is CSP helping you pursue your life of purpose?
A: I see teaching as my vocation and calling. It’s one of my biggest passions. I love children and I love learning. I think that quality teachers are people who continue to learn. I think that CSP has helped me to do that and to continue to push myself to be a better educator. I’m constantly saying, “In grad school, we did this!” and I’m able to bring it in. I’m a better educator, but I’m also bringing that to my colleagues to be better themselves. In order to be a good learner, you have to share what you learn and I’m able to do that because of what I’m doing at CSP.