Concordia Portland Alum Jaimie Skinner is Taking her Teaching Career to China
Tell us a little about yourself
I have lived in Emmett, Idaho, for the last 12 years. I have four beautiful children ranging from 4 years old to 18, and am happily married. I graduated from Boise State University in 2005 with a degree in Secondary Education, with an emphasis in English. I graduated from Concordia University-Portland in December 2011.
Which MEd program did you take; why did you choose to earn this degree?
After returning from a trip to South America, I knew I wanted to teach overseas. I knew that to be marketable, I would need my Master’s Degree. I researched different programs and decided that Concordia Portland fit my needs. When I called Concordia Portland to find out about the programs, I spoke to Susan Zoreh. She spent over an hour with me talking about the different options. After debating between Educational Leadership and Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), we decided the second would be the best option for me. This was in September, and I started classes in the end of October.
How did the program affect you personally and professionally?
There are so many ways that this program has affected me. Personally, it gave me the self-confidence to know that I could do anything. Knowledge is power, and the more I learned, the more I believed that I could do it. I learned time management and work ethic. I had great relationships with my professors that helped me continue to grow. I built friendships with others in my cohort, and learned how to work as a team. The information that I learned through Concordia helped me in my school in Emmett and transformed me into a better teacher. Professionally, I have always loved teaching, but it taught me how to use data and research to become an effective teacher. It also gave me the self-confidence in my job to help make changes in the school. I knew what methods worked and could make a positive impact.
You recently got your dream job teaching in China. What will you be teaching, and what made you want to travel so far to teach?
After becoming involved with Oprah Winfrey’s O Ambassador Program, I had a strong desire to teach overseas. This was just compounded by traveling to Ecuador with students in 2010. I realized there that humanitarian work was my passion and that simplicity in life is beautiful. I wanted to raise my children with the same moral compass that I have and for them to grow up learning that happiness is not held within what you have (materialism), but in what you give back to other people. It was a life-changing experience.
With my degree and experience, I was offered a job in a couple different schools. However, Asia and its history has always held a place in my heart. Since I was a teenager, I had a goal to teach in Asia. The school I am going to is about 45 minutes outside of Beijing in Tongzhou, China. It has about 400 students from preschool through 11th grade. It has a diverse population of students and believes in humanitarian aid. After a 2008 earthquake in southern China, they took in 126 students that lost one or both parents. They hired counselors to help the students through the terrible ordeal and provide an education. They believe that each child deserves an ability to learn and explore the possibilities in life and pursue their dreams.
I will be teaching English literature in the high school and a beginner ESL class for new students. The goal for the students is to prepare them to attend 12th grade and college in the United States. I truly believe that “Education is the key to success” (Oprah Winfrey), and I am excited to be part of this program.
How has the MEd program prepared you for this job?
There has been many ways that the MEd program prepared me for this job. For me, self-confidence and exploration of my own future and priorities were imperative to my own growth. The online program allows for professors at Concordia to be from all over the world. I had a professor who lived in Austria, who shared with me the first-hand experience of living in a foreign country. I had a professor who worked in Guatemala and directed several schools in that region. He shared with me his vision and belief in education. I felt that each step of the way, I was encouraged to pursue my dreams, as well as given the education to be successful. My original contact, Susan Zoreh, continued to be my cheerleader and checked in with me on a monthly basis. The classwork was difficult, but provided growth in me both personally and professionally.
If you could give two pieces of advice to new students enrolled in the online MEd program, what would you advise?
- Believe in yourself, go for it and don’t give up. It changed my life and I know it can change yours!
- There is so much you can learn from your professors and cohort. Use the time to build relationships and explore your own passions for education.