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Traditional Student Takes Non-Traditional Path to Teaching


JONESBORO – Based on her educational path, campus involvement and age, Kerri Kramer fits the definition of a traditional student at Arkansas State University.

Based on her speedy progress toward a degree, Kramer is not traditional at all.

After beginning at A-State last fall, she now expects to be finished with her bachelor's degree in the spring of next year.

Last May, Kramer graduated from Southside Charter High School, which had piloted a "Teacher Cadet" program that encourages talented students to consider an education career.  The program gives participants opportunities to explore various aspects of the profession.

Administrators in the school near Batesville paired Teacher Cadet participants with struggling elementary students.

"I watched a student I had been working with grow right before my eyes," Kramer recalled.  "I was able to make connection with the student and push him further."

Inspired by the success with this and other students, she started tutoring on her own, after school and during the summer.  Through the cadet program, she interned with a Southside second-grade teacher who boosted her confidence and helped her see how rewarding the profession can be.

Her next step was higher education, and she selected Arkansas State.  Barely a month out of high school, she was admitted to the teacher education program.  With concurrent college credits and additional coursework she had already completed, she arrived at A-State with 56 credit hours.

"The moments I spent in the classroom observing and teaching are really what made the decision for me to pursue teaching with my whole heart," she said.

Although she is in her first year at A-State, she actually is classified as a junior, majoring in elementary education (K-6) and living in University Hall.

"I am on track to complete my undergraduate degree in just a year and a half," Kramer explained.  "My first semester has been absolutely wonderful and more than I could have ever imagined or expected.  The College of Education and Behavioral Science (CoEBS) staff and teacher education faculty members have been very cooperative in working with me and my unique situation."

Within weeks of beginning the semester, she got involved in Greek Life, through Delta Zeta sorority, and student organizations, including the American Sign Language Organization.  She also was selected to serve as an ambassador for her college.

"I have always tried to connect my passion for education with my desire for helping others.  Service to others has always been very near and dear to my heart and a major priority. Coming to A-State allowed me to continue on with this passion."

When she is asked about her future plans, she says she always goes back to a question she has been asked many times: “What’s your future story?”

"I have always been challenged to consider the crucial part of how I am going to reach my future story, and I have found many supporters along the way. From high school teachers and administrators to, now, college mentors and professors, the foundation has been laid for my 'future story' to become a reality," Kramer said.

"Whether it’s the academic challenge and the rigorous coursework of the teacher education program, or the service opportunities students are encouraged to get involved in, I feel fully prepared for that next step after graduation, which will be pursuing a master’s degree and ultimately a teaching position."

She is enthused about the university's recent emphasis on “Every Red Wolf Counts,” both for its figurative and literal significance.

"My First-Year Experience Making Connections course spent the previous semester creating an 'endangered red wolves traveling suitcase' for educators. It’s been a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) project in which we have collaborated with the Biological Sciences Department, Red Wolf Coalition, Rural STEM  Education Center, and The Endangered Wolf Center," Kramer recalled.  "We have even been working with the ASU Museum to ensure the authenticity of the suitcase of teaching materials."

Although she is rapidly nearly degree completion, she has embraced the idea of flexibility in planning her future.

"I hope to always keep a special trait in the forefront of my mind: adaptability. I hope to embrace a growth mindset through every endeavor and be adaptable so I can learn and grow.

"I have many career goals, but they can all be summed up very simply: I want to help people," Kramer emphasized.  "I’ve been called to teach and serve. Teachers have direct interactions with the people they are helping, and this profession will allow me to see this goal realized."

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