When kindergarteners are asked what they want to be when they grow up, it’s common for them to picture themselves as a teacher.
Perhaps it’s because a teacher is the only profession they know, but for 5-year-old Breanna Sheridan, the desire to become a teacher wholly had to do with Miss Jacobs.
Carrie Jacobs, now Carrie Jankowsky, taught Sheridan for both kindergarten and first grade. She had an uncanny ability to make her students feel special by fostering a safe, caring, and intentional classroom. Jankowsky wasn’t afraid to let her goofy side shine through, and she made a point of spending time with students outside of class in an effort to reinforce how much they meant to her. Consequently, Sheridan adored her, and the two formed a strong bond that has continued to this day.
“The love she has for students, it’s pretty unconditional,” Sheridan said. “I remember really looking up to her when I was young and thinking she was the coolest person ever.”
After Sheridan completed first grade, she and Jankowsky continued to keep in touch through a special notebook the two would write notes back and forth in. Their exchanges continued even as Sheridan entered high school.
“She was a constant support to me while I was going through some of my more formative years,” Sheridan said. “It was really awesome to have an adult outside of my parents who cared about me and who I knew I could count on.”
Naturally, when Sheridan prepared to enter college, she returned to her childhood ambition, as well as the person who modeled the career best. An elementary education major, Sheridan chose to complete a semester- long pre-student teaching experience last year with Jankowsky, which reignited their friendship and helped it bloom into a beautiful mentorship. The two regularly check in on each other, with Jankowsky sharing advice and teaching materials, and continuing the pattern of care and commitment she began when Sheridan was her student.
“Breanna has been a natural inspiring leader since the day she stepped foot in my kindergarten classroom,” recalled Jankowsky. “Her passion for making that difference in others’ lives shines when she’s put in front of students.”
Sheridan will soon put the tools and advice she has received into practice as head of a classroom of her own. She’s among this year’s class of CUAA graduates, having earned her Bachelor of Science in elementary education, a minor in language arts, and her Lutheran Teacher Diploma (LTD).
Sheridan chose Concordia after an intern at her church recommended the school. Concordia’s Lutheran foundation presented opportunities for Sheridan to grow in her faith and earn her LTD.
“I wanted to be able to have more knowledge to make myself a better teacher,” Sheridan said of her choice to pursue her LTD. “I didn’t want to close any doors for myself as I graduate.”
The education faculty at CUAA continued to foster Sheridan’s passion for the profession.
“Concordia teaches us to be that caretaker in the classroom and encourages us to build those relationships with students,” Sheridan said. “CUAA puts a huge emphasis on teaching kids with love and logic.”
Sheridan also found in Concordia the same attention to her welfare that she received in the classroom early on. Whether it was from Dr. Mark Looker, who went the extra mile to make a study abroad opportunity possible for her, or Dr. Sara Clemm Von Hohenberg, who invited Sheridan and classmates into her home for dinner to help them get to know each other, Sheridan said she experienced a community at Concordia that helped her to thrive.
“The impact that teachers and professors are having on students every single day needs to be highlighted,” Sheridan said. “My teachers might not have realized it in the moment, but their impact is what has brought me to where I am today and where I want to be in the future.”
ACCELERATED TEACHING DEGREES
Concordia provides multiple three-year degree tracks for those looking to become teachers. These programs are offered entirely online. Upon completion, learners receive Wisconsin teaching licensure. Those who wish to add the Lutheran Teacher Diploma can do so in as few as nine credits.
The currently approved three-year bachelor’s programs include:
- Elementary education | Licensure for grades K–9
- Secondary social studies | Licensure for grades 4–12
- Secondary English and language arts | Licensure for grades 4–12
Learn more at blog.cuw.edu/accelerated-ed.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the spring 2022 issue of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor Special Magazine edition. The fall/winter issue hit mailboxes in early October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.
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