Jacy Lawrence, seventh grade language arts teacher at a Minnesota middle school.

Alumni Spotlight: Jacy Lawrence, M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction

Jacy Lawrence graduated from Concordia University St. Paul with an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction and currently works as a seventh grade language arts teacher at a middle school in Minnesota. Boasting eight years in the classroom and the lead position of her school’s literacy project team, we asked Jacy to share her experience at Concordia University St. Paul.

Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?

I have wanted to work in the field of education since I was a child. I remember “teaching” my stuffed animals in first grade because I loved school so much that I wanted to continue the school day when I got home. When I got to high school I had an English teacher that inspired me to want to teach language arts. She pushed me to analyze literature and write in a way that nobody had up until that point. I was inspired by her teaching style and her love of literature. I have been teaching for eight years now, and I truly love each day that I get to work with students. My goal is to inspire students to love reading and writing like my teacher did.

Why did you choose Concordia University St. Paul for your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction?

I chose Concordia University St. Paul for my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction because the school was a good fit for my lifestyle. I wanted to attend a college that would well equip me for my role as an educator and that offered flexible learning opportunities, including online classes. Many of my colleagues attended Concordia and told me wonderful things about the program, instructors, and curriculum. I am so glad that I made the decision to attend Concordia University St. Paul for my master’s degree.

What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Concordia University St. Paul and how do you use them today?

I gained many skills and sharpened others during my program at Concordia University St. Paul that I still use today. I gained skills in the area of classroom instruction. I learned many instructional strategies that I use in my seventh grade language arts classroom on a daily basis. Attention was focused on helping me gain insight into relevant and significant experiences for my students to increase their achievement. I felt better prepared to work with my students after finishing my program. The focus on best practices in curriculum design, instructional strategies, and technology incorporation were especially beneficial for my job teaching students in an ever-changing global society.

How has your master’s degree impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?

My master’s degree impacted my current position in many ways, but it has also set me up for success for a position I would like to attain in my future. The degree I obtained allowed me to work closely with reading specialists in my building to develop and implement reading interventions for striving readers. I also have been able to use my newfound knowledge as a basis for the professional development I created as part of the literacy project team in my school. I aspire to work as a reading specialist in the future, and the program I was part of allowed me to obtain a reading license. This will help me achieve my career goals in the future.

What was a challenge you faced during your curriculum and instruction program, and who or what helped you overcome it?

I faced a few challenges during my curriculum and instruction program, but my classmates and instructors were able to help me overcome them. One challenge in particular required the help of my administrator. I was struggling to locate teachers I could observe and teach with as part of my practicum experiences. My administrator connected me with teachers in my district that allowed me to shadow them and work with them for a few days as part of my program. I am thankful to have had his support throughout my educational journey.

What was the biggest takeaway from your curriculum and instruction program?

Of all the takeaways I hold from my curriculum and instruction program, the one I hold in highest esteem is my ability to be a confident leader in my school. I gained confidence during my curriculum and instruction program. This confidence allowed me to feel more prepared and well-rounded in terms of my knowledge. I am now able to present to my colleagues at staff meetings about literacy strategies I learned about during my program. I am thankful I had the opportunity to work with such great instructors along the way in my program, because they helped motivate and encourage me in my endeavors.

What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the M.Ed. curriculum and instruction program at Concordia University St. Paul?

If I were to give advice to a prospective student considering the M.Ed. curriculum and instruction program at Concordia University St. Paul, I would tell them to speak with an advisor about any questions they have from the beginning of the process. All of the advisors and employees at Concordia are extremely kind and helpful. This makes the process of applying and getting started much less stressful than it seems at first. I would also give a prospective student the advice of planning their time wisely. The program is flexible, but it is important to have an idea of how you will manage your time.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Overall, I have found all of my experiences with Concordia University St. Paul to be positive. I am so happy to have gotten my master’s degree at this school. I feel better prepared to educate my students now that I have obtained my degree in curriculum and instruction. The online classes allowed me great flexibility, the advisors and instructors were all extremely helpful, and the materials covered were pertinent to being a successful educator. I would recommend getting a master’s degree at this school for all these reasons and more.