The Evolution of an Educational Journey

With college graduation a month away, Virginia Arndt admits that she wasn’t initially excited to turn the page to college. It wasn’t the beginning of a new chapter that caused her to feel angst, but rather, reluctancy to accept the finality of closing her high school chapter.

Growing up a Ledger

Growing up in West Bend, Virginia and her family spent a lot of time going back and forth between Fond du Lac and West Bend. She wasn’t planning to attend St. Mary Springs Academy (SMSA), but that changed after a recruiter visited her middle school. With SMSA being her Mom’s former high school, Virginia and her family were definitely excited about the decision she made to attend.

She commuted from West Bend all four years of high school. After her Mom accepted a teaching position at SMSA, their family moved back to Fond du Lac. But that move didn’t happen until a year after her graduation. Virginia recounts these four years as an unforgettable time in her life, a time she wanted to freeze. Springs felt “like a family.” She excelled academically, played volleyball, and enjoyed getting involved in school activities.

In her Senior year, Virginia began working with the SMSA after school child care program. With her Ledger spirit in full force, she knew this was a good opportunity to stay connected to what felt like her “home.” Once she began working with the elementary students, Virginia had a revelation. She decided to continue her education with aspirations to become an educator. In reflecting on all of the teachers who impacted her life including her own mother, Virginia says, “I hope to be one of those special teachers that inspires future generations – just like so many have done for me.”

Growing up a Ledger with Sabre Spirit

Familiar with the local university, Marian was on her college wish list. She knew it was a smaller school and she wanted to be local and keep working with the SMSA after school program. Once again, she was compelled to attend a school tour through a recruiting event. She was connected with Ben Soman, who was the Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid Liaison at that time. Virginia decided to tour Marian and visiting campus gave her clarity in choosing Marian as her next academic home.

Now in her final semester as a college Senior, Virginia reflects on her growth. Her days in a Marian classroom have affirmed both her college and career choices. She feels the professors in the Education program “embody education.” She’s been able to work her classes around her job – something that was very important for her. Virginia knows many of her classmates and with small class sizes, she’s found it easy to make new friends. She discovered a college that helped her look forward, even though, sentimentally, she was in no hurry to turn that page.

Old School: New Perspective

Thrilled to be student teaching for her last semester, Virginia is returning to her roots – a Ledger classroom. But this time, she’ll be “Ms. Arndt” at the front of the 2nd grade class! Coincidentally, Ben Soman’s daughter is a student in the same class.

A lot of hard work preceded this dream come true. Despite the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia has been able to meet her academic goals including the one to graduate in four years. With a significant learning curve and many adjustments, the global pandemic forced her to dig deeper, work harder, and cherish every moment. After living in a very virtual world, Virginia is grateful that her student teaching is in person.

With the first couple months of student teaching behind her, Virginia says, Student teaching has been absolutely wonderful. I love it. The students make my day every day and are truly the reason ‘why’ I teach. It has been amazing to take all that I have learned from my time at Marian and apply it to the classroom.” She feels honored to come full circle while continuing this phase of learning, once again, in a SMSA classroom. Virginia now understands that her high school chapter did not exactly end, but rather, it continues to evolve.

Marian University’s Bachelor of Science in Elementary-Middle Education will prepare you for certification and licensure in the state of Wisconsin. This on-campus program features challenging curriculum that will help you understand child and early adolescent development, assess learning, and engage in an applied teaching approach through age-appropriate curriculum and teaching methodology. Visit our website to learn more.