Congratulations to Vanessa Freed, the 2013 recipient of the Dr. Karl Smith Transformative Educator Scholarship.
This scholarship is awarded each February to a candidate with:
- Proven academic ability
- A written response to the following question: How will the degree you earn support the transformation of education in the work that you do?
The scholarship commemorates the late Dr. Karl Smith and his contribution to education through his work as a Concordia University-Portland online faculty member.
Vanessa, who lives in Texas, has been a teacher for 10 years and will be earning a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in adolescent literacy.
Where are you from?
I was born and reared in Ash Vale, England, a small town about an hour south of London. Twenty-five years ago, I met my husband on a blind date while working in Germany and moved to the United States. My husband is American and was born in New Jersey. When I first moved to the U.S., we lived in upstate New York, but in 1994, my husband’s job brought the family (we have three children) to Texas, which is where we have lived ever since.
What inspired or motivated you to pursue your master’s at Concordia University-Portland?
I have been teaching for 10 years and absolutely love my job teaching language arts to seventh graders. Over the last few years, I have begun to notice a decline in adolescent literacy skills. I am passionate about teaching writing and reading, but my students struggle with both skills. Research shows they are not alone. Concordia University is one of the few online programs that offers a master’s in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in adolescent literacy — a field near and dear to my heart!
What does being awarded this scholarship mean to you?
This scholarship means everything to me! Without it, I would not be able to pursue an advanced degree. My husband and I spent considerable time looking at our finances and talking about the feasibility of me returning to school. We had concluded that it was not viable at this time, and then Bernard Clark, an enrollment specialist at Concordia University-Portland, contacted me with the most unbelievable news. I had been awarded the Dr. Karl Smith Scholarship; my future would include the opportunity to study online at Concordia Portland!
How will the degree you earn help support the transformation of education in the work you do?
The opportunity to earn an MEd in Curriculum & Instruction from Concordia Portland will allow me to be more effective in the classroom, to support and mentor younger teachers more meaningfully, and to assist my district in developing a curriculum that outranks any other in the state of Texas. The emphasis on adolescent literacy is of particular importance because it will allow me access to the most current research on the challenges facing today’s learners and to discover cutting-edge ways of meeting my students’ needs. Last year, Texas ninth graders scored lower on the reading and writing test than on any other STAAR test (the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). I do not believe that this weakness is unique to Texas. Many college freshmen are not adequately prepared to read and write at the depth and rigor required by a university curriculum. This awareness drives me to delve into the intricacies of adolescent literacy by earning a graduate degree.
What are you most looking forward to in regards to earning your MEd?
I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn about the most current pedagogical techniques and research. Once I have earned the degree, I would love to share my knowledge with my school district and with the young teachers I mentor.