From Mount Union Students to Education Professors

August 21, 2010

Mount Union assistant professors of education Dr. Mandy (Geddis ’98) Capel and Dr. Melissa Askren-Edgehouse ’99 have both come full circle, returning to their alma mater to teach future educators.

“I had Linda Burkey, Tom Gannon and Ted Issue as professors when I was a student here,” said Mandy. “They were the inspiration that ignited my passion for education. It is an honor to be their colleague now.”

After graduating from Mount Union in 1998 with a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education, Mandy was certified to teach K-8. She then earned a master of arts degree in general education and a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University. Mandy taught elementary school at several schools in Northeast Ohio, but when the opportunity arose for her to return to her alma mater, she seized it.

“Mount Union has always held a soft spot in my heart.  I wanted to give back to my alma mater and work with future educators.”

Mandy believes in the value of working as a team for the benefit of her students as well. Many collaborative opportunities for teacher candidates exist and new opportunities for students are continually being explored. For example, Mandy and Melissa team-taught this year’s Foundations of Education course. Sophomore and senior early childhood majors in assistant professor of education Dr. Shawn Watters’ and Mandy’s classes reaped the benefits of a combined learning experience. “We are working toward more collaborative classes as well,” added Mandy.

Melissa also is a stellar product of the Mount Union Teacher Education Program, having earned a bachelor of arts degree from the institution in elementary education in 1999.

After graduating from Mount, she taught fifth and sixth grade at Fairless Local Schools in Stark County.  Coincidentally, Melissa graduated high school from Fairless as well, and during her sophomore year Dr. Peter Schneller, professor of education and co-chair of the Department of Education, was her English teacher.

While teaching, she earned a master of education degree in administration and supervision from Ashland University.   After six years, she decided to pursue a doctorate, so she moved to Bowling Green, OH.  While at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Melissa was a teaching assistant and taught undergraduate education majors. 

“I was so afraid that 18-22 year old students were going to be much harder to teach than my fifth and sixth graders,” she said. “Surprisingly, they’re not much different!”  Teaching these students made her realize that she would love teaching students of any age.  After earning a doctor of education degree in leadership studies from BGSU, Melissa became a school improvement consultant for the Lucas County Educational Service Center, and she worked with administrators and teachers in Northwest Ohio. 

“I really liked offering professional development to teams of teachers and administrators,” she said. “In a way, I was still teaching.  But, just to be sure that I didn’t lose what it was like to be in the classroom, I still taught graduate courses at BGSU in the evenings.”  Melissa had no idea that she’d be returning to her alma mater soon.

In March 2009, Melissa was waiting for a flight at Akron-Canton Airport, when she noticed Dr. Tom Gannon, professor of education and co-chair of the Department of Education.

“I was surprised. He immediately remembered me,” said Melissa.  “It was so nice to reconnect with him and hear about Mount Union.  I hadn’t had a chance to visit the campus in a couple years.”  They exchanged business cards, and when an education faculty member retired Tom contacted Melissa to see if she was interested in applying for the position.

“I loved my time at Mount Union, and I always thought I wanted to return and teach at my alma mater, but I never dreamed it would be this soon,” said Melissa. “I’m so happy to be back! My colleagues are fantastic, and I really enjoy working with them although I must admit that I still have a hard time calling them by their first names!”

Since Melissa’s return to campus, she’s been actively involved with integrating technology into a variety of courses in the department.  Educational Media, a course all education majors take, had been typically offered as a face-to-face course but she offered it online this summer and hopes to make the course online in the future.

“Some of my students have been wary of taking an online course, but they’ve been doing a great job.  They’re tweeting, blogging, creating screencasts, designing eportfolios, and even occasionally skyping me.  I’ve tried to integrate as many free technologies as possible so they can use them with their future students.  I’m so pleased with their work.”

For two alumni to come full circle clearly speaks to the high quality education offered at Mount Union.  These recent additions to the faculty have helped to ensure a consistent curriculum in the department, but one with an eye to the future as well. 

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