Featured Cavalier

“I know that this is part of my purpose”: Q&A with Kayvonna Stigall, MEd ’17

By Kara Wyman, MEd February 21, 2018

When your purpose becomes your passion, you’re able to accomplish immeasurable goals and enjoy the work you do every single day. Our latest Featured Cavalier Kayvonna Stigall exemplifies this through and through. Find out more about this Michigan-based Autism Behavioral Technician in our Q&A below.

What inspired you to become an educator?

I have had some great teachers and some not-so-great teachers as a student. So I want to be sure to leave a great impression on students and to encourage and empower them as they continue on their journey in education. I grew up in a low-income area. However, my community is rich in love and support to further your education, so I want to keep that going in my community and with my own children.

What are you currently doing that you’d like to share with fellow educators?

I’m providing therapy for children with autism, and also observing and coaching freshman college students in their field experience in early childhood classroom settings.

What led you to work with children with autism?

I worked as a preschool teacher for over 14 years, and sometimes when children with different disabilities/exceptional learners would enroll, we weren’t always equipped to service or support them in a way that would help them thrive. I was very passionate about this population and wanted to find ways to support their learning.

During my last year as a home-based teacher, I had the opportunity to work with a few children with autism. That’s when I realized that I wanted to have a lifelong career in this specific area. I loved finding ways to help them thrive in their environment without sacrificing the essence that makes them unique—just like with any kid! I love seeing them use their gifts to learn day-to-day things that we take for granted. It’s life-changing. I need them as much as they need me. I know that this is part of my purpose on Earth, and I give praises to Jesus for allowing me to leave an imprint while I am here.

What made you choose Concordia University-Portland for your MEd, and what was the program like for you?

I chose Concordia for my Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education because I had heard great things about the school. One of my coworkers was actually in the program and really liked the curriculum and the education that Concordia provided. And I’m very happy with my decision.

The instructors were helpful, flexible, and had a wealth of knowledge in their field. I continue to use the articles and PowerPoints I created in my program, and I’m able to share my research and knowledge with my college students. I also use the techniques I learned from my early childhood education concentration to better assist my students with behavior, social, and emotional needs.

How do you feel the program and what you learned aligns with Concordia’s mission to prepare leaders for the transformation of society?

Concordia keeps up with the changes in society by providing students with the education and experiences needed to prepare and help them work more effectively. Emphasizing how we can transform society through education is something that carries over to all of the disciplines that Concordia offers.

What keeps you motivated and passionate about education, and what do you still hope to achieve?

The work that I do keeps me motivated and so do the children and college students that I work with. There’s always something more to do to help every student improve and advance.

Because I earned my MEd, I am able to finish my six-course sequence in Behavior Analysis to become a Behavior Analyst. In the next two years I will sit before the board to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. It will allow me to continue my work of servicing children with autism at the supervisor level of my career.

Congratulations, Kayvonna—and thank you for the work you do!

Kara Wyman has a BA in literature and an MEd from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She spent a decade working with adolescents as an English teacher, the founder and director of a drama program, a curriculum designer, and a project manager for a teen-centered nonprofit organization. She is now the Alumni and Community Manager for Concordia University-Portland.

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