By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
Whether it’s a sense of delight over the light in a child’s eyes, a fascination with science or a commitment to helping youngsters learn to read, College of Education graduates at Saturday afternoon's ceremony for online and cohort students at Grand Canyon University share an enthusiasm for teaching.
“I love teaching kids,” said Beth Hull, who traveled from Colorado to receive her diploma. “I have a passion for it.”
It was more than a point of pride for Hull that she graduated summa cum laude with an online Bachelor of Science in Education.
It was the fulfillment of a dream she has harbored since her first career — a 15-year stint as a Blockbusters training manager. What she liked best, she said, was teaching others.
For the last seven years, Hull has worked as substitute K-12 teacher and is now able to apply for full-time teaching positions.
“I just love the look that kids get in their eyes when they’re learning something,” Hull said.
Cory Steeves of Maricopa was in a celebratory mood before receiving his online master’s degree in Secondary Education.
He is a middle school Science teacher in Laveen, where he teaches earth science, physics, outer space, chemistry and biology.
“I’ve always been fascinated by science,” said Steeves, who hopes to eventually teach in high school.
It's a far cry from his first career as a Wal-mart manager, where he taught customer relations.
“It was teaching, but I was tired of 120 hours a week of work," he said.
Teaching children, he said, is a higher purpose.
Angela Brown of Huachuca City, who earned her Master of Arts in Reading with an emphasis in Elementary Education, noticed a gap in reading skills among her fourth-grade pupils.
“Children in the middle grades — four, five and six — don’t have as much as support as younger children,” Brown said. “Most of my fourth-grade students can read, but there are gaps in skills.”
It’s especially important to fill those gaps before children fall too far behind.
“They’re now reading to learn instead of learning to read,” Brown said.
Brown has been teaching for 11 years. Her first career was as a U.S. Navy aviation boatswain mate.
James Nuñez has cobbled together a career as a substitute teacher for DeVry University, a chemistry and biology tutor, and a part-time honors biology teacher at Madison Highland Prep High School.
Armed with a Master of Education in Secondary Education degree, his next step is to earn a Ph.D. and continue teaching high-level science at the high school and university levels.
Nuñez said he was blessed with the support of inspirational leaders who encouraged him to focus on science to help fill a teaching void.
“We need more science teachers and we need more math teachers,” Nuñez said. “Education is the base, the foundation of any community."
Leleatha Mitchell traveled from Atlanta to receive her online Master of Education in Elementary Education.
It has taken her five years to earn the degree, and she was “very excited” to finally see GCU’s campus and graduate.
She already is working with school children as a paraeducator and wants to do more to help bring light to the community, she said.
“I have a passion for children, Mitchell said. “I have a passion for their uniqueness. “It’s up to us to put in their minds positive thoughts. I want to be part of that. Each one, teach one.”
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or laurie.merrill[email protected].