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Accelerated bachelor’s in elementary education: Melissa’s story

Teachers have the opportunity to become life-changers. Melissa Schnorr realized that while helping out in her son’s classroom. Quickly, she realized she wanted a classroom of her own, and Concordia University Wisconsin was ready to help equip her to reach that goal. Melissa is in Concordia’s Accelerated B.A. in Elementary Education program, and she shares her experience below.

Note: Melissa’s responses are typed in italics.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Melissa Schnorr. I have two sons, Gionni (age 10) and Dominic (age 3). My hobbies consist of going for walks with my boys, reading, crocheting, and listening to music. I attend the online campus of Great Lakes Church. Pre-pandemic, I volunteered with the high school community as a youth leader. I transferred from Gateway Technical College, where I earned an associate’s degree in early childhood education.


When did you first know you wanted to become a teacher? 

When my son was in Kindergarten and first grade, I volunteered in his class during literacy centers. Students rotated centers throughout the week, which typically consisted of independent reading, listening center, word sort, work with the teacher, and a writing prompt.

At the beginning of centers, I typically started working with students to better help them understand the word sort or get them started with the writing prompt. Then, I enjoyed listening to students read at their individual levels. This experience was very rewarding for me and helped me realize I wanted to work in education. I began substituting as a paraprofessional when my son was in first grade and, shortly after, I realized I wanted my own classroom.


What drew you to Concordia’s Accelerated Bachelor’s in Elementary Education program?

Concordia’s Accelerated Bachelor’s in Elementary Education program felt like the only right choice for me. The part that was most enticing is it’s fully online. I have a small child at home and live a minimum of 30 minutes away from the nearest university. It would be nearly impossible to attend face-to-face classes, especially with limited childcare. I also enjoy the accelerated pace and flexibility the online program offers. This program offers the opportunity to gain Prior Learning and Experience credits, which is amazing since I’ve gained experience substituting.


What have you enjoyed most about your classes?

I enjoy the instructors and the opportunity to grow intellectually. Concordia’s faculty provide helpful feedback, and they genuinely care about their students. They understand that life happens and offer God’s grace and wisdom. Concordia’s instructors lead by example. They show their students that teaching is more than ensuring students understand the content being taught, but also teaching valuable life lessons. During the Christian Citizen class, I learned about Newman’s belief in “the cultivation of the intellect” and creating a “habit of mind.” While at Concordia, I have refined my judgments and opinions. I’m gaining the ability to express them eloquently, which is a challenge for me, personally, since I’m more of a listener.


Have you been able to apply what you’ve learned to a classroom setting?

I have been able to apply what I’ve learned to a classroom setting during field clinicals and also as a substitute in elementary schools. Clinical field experiences are Concordia’s way of providing hands-on learning prior to student teaching. For example, during the reading clinical experience we were tasked with working one-on-one with a student conducting literacy lessons. So, I was able to apply what I learned in the Art and Science of Teaching Reading course to this clinical, which was intimidating, but highly beneficial.


What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who is maybe considering teaching, but isn’t quite sure?

If you are considering teaching but having doubts, I would advise setting up a meeting with an academic advisor. They will patiently answer all of your questions and concerns and provide wise counsel.


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