Meet Colton Ritsema (’22), a graduate assistant at Concordia University Ann Arbor, working towards a masters with a teaching certificate.

As a graduate of an undergrad program at Concordia University Ann Arbor, what inspired you to return to Concordia for your graduate work? 

The main reason I was inspired to return to CUAA for my graduate degree was the opportunity to play on the basketball team for a 5th season, which was granted to me through the COVID-19 pandemic. But, in the process, I discovered this program which paired great with my undergraduate degree (Mass Communication). I also wanted to complete my graduate degree at a place I was familiar with and knew my professors would be committed to seeing me succeed.  

How has the Masters with Teacher Certification graduate program best prepared you to work with students in the classroom? 

This program has prepared me to work with students through exploring the various aspects of adapting instruction to fit the needs of the learners in my classroom. We have discussed methods of instruction, differentiation, student profiles and other skills/best practices to work with students. The clinical experience component of each class also allows you to look for and put into practice the knowledge/skills you acquire in each course.  

How has Concordia supported you in fulfilling your vocational calling? 

Concordia has supported me in fulfilling my vocational calling by allowing me to develop skills that are relevant for not only my future career but also life. My time in the program and at Concordia has given me the opportunity to grow in my leadership, communication and problem-solving skills. Most importantly, this program has allowed me to directly connect my Christian faith to my career and vocation to serve others.

What makes you an Uncommon educator? 

 Something that makes me an uncommon educator is my commitment to integrating my Christian faith into the classroom, even if I cannot do so explicitly. Whether it be through conversations with students, discussing admirable character traits or giving lessons that incorporate important life virtues, I want my classroom to be a place where people are known and create value for themselves through living an upstanding life. My goal is to help students see their life in a vocational context to serve others with their gifts and talents, even if I cannot directly connect it to a Christian context.

Why should other Concordia graduates pursue this program?   

Other Concordia graduates should pursue this program if they are looking to complement their Masters degree with a program that gives you best practices for teaching your subject area of interest. Concordia grads should also pursue this program if they want a change of pace from their undergraduate degree and are looking to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

Related: Colton’s uncommon grad story from 2022.

Related: Learn more about the Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction with Elementary Teacher Certification and Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction with Secondary Teacher Certification programs.

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The School of Education offers program emphases in urban, international, and emerging education through four distinct undergraduate departments and eleven graduate programs.