Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

With the assistance of ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $9,000, Michelle Spradlin earned her degree from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 2012. Over the years, she has represented ThanksUSA scholars at outreach events and even contributed to this year’s ThanksUSA Treasure Hunt 9. Michelle is happy to share the following update with fellow ThanksUSA Alumni and Friends:


Michelle & Eddie Spradlin

ThanksUSA has helped me fulfill more than my educational goals. During my husbands first deployment to Iraq, I was led to make a career change. I had worked in banking all of my adult life, but my calling was to work in the educational field.

ThanksUSA helped support me financially as I attained my degree to become a teacher. This is my second year in the classroom and I have the privelege of substituting for two long-term materninty leaves in the same grade. Actually, the classrooms are next door to each other. Some of the students I am working with this year, I had last school year in ESL and/or Math Intervention, which has been very helpful.

At the beginning of this school year, I was disappointed that I had not been hired to be a full-time classroom teacher, but it has worked out in my favor. My husband has recently returmed from the Share Initiative Program in Atlanta, Georgia. We are learning to make adjustments he needs to “really live” with PTSD, TBI and long term back issues. Working in the school system also allows me to be on our daughter, Kiley’s schedule, which I am very grateful for.

A way that Kiley and I have found to be able to cope with my husband’s injuries is to serve others. We have always spent time together doing mission projects at home. However over Christmas break, we went on our first international mission trip to Orphanage Emmanuel in Honduras. Not only was it an eye opening experience for a thirteen year old, but it was for me too.

I am grateful my husband is recovering from war related illnesses, we have each other, a home and live in a safe country. As my husband continues to improve, my daughter and I are planning to spend more time at the orphanage. This summer, I will volunteer to teach English in the orphanage school. I am currently taking the last college class needed to be a certified ESL (English Second Language) teacher.

Someday, I pray that my husband will be able to travel with me to do more international missions and perhaps adopt children. We always wanted more children, but due to deployments and his injuries, we were unable. I believe knowledge is power and having a formal education has fulfilled my dreams of being a teacher, being on our daughter’s schedule, to be home more than I was with my previous employer, and to be able to serve others. I am very thankful for ThanksUSA. It has allowed me to try to become the person that I want to be.


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The ThanksUSA team congratulates Army dependent and ThanksUSA scholarship recipient, Nicole Cook, on her recent graduation from Stevenson Unviersity! The daughter of Sergeant 1st Class, David Cook, U.S. Army (Ret), Nicole has received a total of $9,000 in Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarships to help fund her elementary education studies. Nicole is eager to begin her career as a teacher and we’re happy to report that she will be joining the faculty of Carroll County Public Schools.


Nicole’s name may be familiar to ThanksUSA supporters because of her assistance with ThanksUSA outreach events, receptions, and fundraisers. Most recently, she represented ThanksUSA scholarship recipients at the 5th annual ThanksUSA Golf Tournament at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. Prior to the event, Nicole appeared with ThanksUSA Chairman and CEO, Bob Okun, on Let’s Talk Live to speak about ThanksUSA’s mission and the golf fundraiser.

Please join us in wishing Nicole and all recent graduates well with their budding careers or continued educational journeys…our outstanding scholars deserve our support and we hope to bring you more highlights from the Class of 2012!

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Our congratulations to Army dependent and ThanksUSA scholar, Christine Nussio, on earning her B.A. History degree from Christendom College! Since beginning her studies in 2008, Christine received $9,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships, a portion of which were sponsored by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and ESA Foundation.

Though he is currently serving in Afghanistan, Christine’s father, Colonel Rick Nussio, U.S. Army, wanted Christine to know that he’d always be there for her. He sent her a photo of himself, she says, “In case I needed him.” As her name was announced, Christine proudly walked across the stage, photo in hand.

Christine will be spending the summer with her mother and five sisters anxiously waiting,  “to welcome home our hero from this year-long tour in July.” Next, she will begin preparations for graduate school. Christine will be attending Catholic University of America to earn her Master’s degree in Secondary Education, with a concentration in Social Studies.


She explains, “This is in preparation for a career teaching history at the high school level. Though it took some time to discover, I realized that teaching high school history was the perfect way to combine my love for history and desire to spend my life helping form and educate the youth of tomorrow. My experiences as an apprentice teacher as part of Christendom College’s Teaching Practicum made me more eager than ever to begin this work. Participation in this program was just one of the many gifts I received while at Christendom, and I must extend my heartfelt thanks to ThanksUSA for helping to make this possible.”

She continues, “Without you I could never have accomplished all that I did in college: leadership and volunteer experience, friendships with peers and professors, rewarding studies, a Summa Cum Laude diploma, a semester study abroad, and formative opportunities preparing me for the career path of my choice. Thank you!”

ThanksUSA is honored to have been a part of Christine’s undergraduate experience. We have watched her grow from an eager high school senior to a confident scholar ready to educate and inspire the next generation. Congratulations, again, Christine!

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Over the past three years, Navy Reserve dependent Hayley Brands has received a total of $9,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships, including this past year’s $3,000 Oshkosh Defense/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarship. As she prepares for graduation and a career as a teacher, Hayley takes some time to share her educational journey and future plans with ThanksUSA supporters.

Hayley during a study-abroad in Spain

Just two weeks from now, Hayley will earn her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish. Always a dedicated student, she has earned teaching endorsements in basic mathematics and middle school science, will graduate Summa Cum Laude, and is receiving the University Scholar Award for UP’s School of Education for earning a cumulative 4.0 GPA.

Hayley’s academic success has at UP has already led to her first teaching position through the Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education, or PACE. Over the next few years, Hayley will be earning her Master’s of Education degree while teaching middle school math and science at Sacred Heart Elementary in California. Hayley is especially excited about the opportunities offered through the PACE program and explains, “A unique facet of the program is that PACE teachers live in community with several other teachers in a PACE house in the community where they are teaching which serves as a strong support system for new teachers.”

When asked about her desire to teach, Hayley responds,  “A combination of experiences, relationships, and beliefs drew me to teaching. I was blessed to have several sensational teachers as a student who inspired me to be a life-long learner. Like most students, I also had teachers whose heart wasn’t in their work for some reason. I aspire to be the teacher who is a role model who inspires her students to become life-long learners. I also hope to inspire female students to pursue STEM careers because societal gender-roles often tell them the contrary. All five of my younger siblings have a form of high-functioning autism which has posed some unique challenges in their education. As someone who has siblings with special needs, I have empathy for students who might learn a little bit differently than the “average” student and feel confident I can adapt instruction to help all students succeed in my classroom no matter what their individual background is. Finally, I am drawn to teaching because it is a vocation in which I can make a difference every day I enter my classroom. Furthermore, I am excited to learn something new as I teach every day because teaching is an art that no one can ever perfect. The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids and constantly learn new things is exciting!”

Hayley with her brothers and sister

As a new teacher, Hayley will bring some fresh ideas and teaching methods to her students. For instance, during her fifth grade student teaching placement, she was able to incorporate her Spanish minor into the curriculum. She explains, “I recently taught a lesson on word histories, specifically tracing English words back to Latin roots using dictionaries. Since Spanish is more closely tied to Latin than English, I asked bilingual students to explain what the Latin roots meant in Spanish which was a cool way for them to share their language with the class. I have also connected similar grammar structures in English to Spanish grammar structures when teaching grammar skills to clarify concepts for students whose primary home language is Spanish. I’ve also incorporated it in ways as simple as being able to accurately pronounce words in stories in the reading curriculum from Hispanic cultures. In the future, I hope to eventually work in a dual-immersion or bilingual school to utilize my Spanish more readily in classroom instruction.”

During her time at the University of Portland, Hayley was very involved with campus activities and organizations. She has served as an officer in the Kappa Delta Pi international education honor society, was a Residence Assistant, and mentored through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters, just to name a few. One of the activities Hayley speaks most fondly about is the annual Reading Fair saying, “Over 350 families attended this event, enjoyed literacy-based activities, an obstacle course, a puppet show, and all children left with a free, new book!”

Growing up in a large military family helped Hayley develop the patience, compassion, and the self-discipline necessary for academic success. “I learned quickly how to be fairly self-sufficient and to take care of my responsibilities at home especially when dad was away on Navy duty for an extended period of time. When I was a sophomore in high school, my dad was deployed to the Pentagon for the whole year which was a major growing experience for me because I had to step up and take on my responsibility to helping mom make sure things were running smoothly at home while balancing my academics, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job. It wasn’t the easiest transition, but I grew up a lot during that year. These experiences facilitated my transition into college. I easily transitioned to living in a new place, developing a new routine, and taking on new adult responsibilities. I am grateful I was well-prepared for this transition from my experiences as a military child and how my parents purposefully taught me to be self-sufficient. During my junior year, I was a Resident Assistant and worked with many younger students who struggled with this transition because they were learning lessons about self-sufficiency and balancing one’s responsibilities for the first time as freshmen. In advising and supporting them, I am grateful for the values my military family instilled in me,” says Hayley.

ThanksUSA is honored to have been a part of Hayley’s educational journey. She explains just how important it was to have the financial support of ThanksUSA, especially during her senior year. “My full-time student teaching placement prevented me from being able to continue working my work-study job. Student teaching comprises more hours than a full-time job between planning, commuting, teaching time, and still taking university courses. Since ThanksUSA helped me to pay for my tuition and other school expenses, I was able to save earnings from the summer to pay for gas, utilities, rent, and other costs that continue to arise during this time when I am not able to earn an income so I am not worried about making ends meet. This lack of worry allows me to dedicate my time and energy to being the best teacher I can be for my students each day,” she says.

If you are a college-bound military dependent or spouse, we encourage you to apply for a ThanksUSA Scholarship today. Applications are being accepted now through May 15th at www.ThanksUSA.org. There are some changes to the scholarship program this year, including scholarships for military spouses attending school part-time. For complete details, please make sure to visit the 2012 Overview page.

We close this week’s Scholarship News with a few words of gratitude from Hayley:

“The ThanksUSA program and generous donors have truly made a difference in my education that has prepared me to serve our nation as a teacher. Thanks again☺”

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Since most of the nation is being held in the icy grips of old man winter, I think it’s quite refreshing to meet someone who is earning her degree in a place that most consider paradise…Honolulu, Hawaii! As I write this, it is currently 28° F here in Hampton Roads, VA. The weather in Honolulu? A beautiful 77° F. Yes, there is a chance for rain in Honolulu, but at least it’s warm!

Weather aside, I’m pleased to introduce Tia Alove Hicks who is earning her degree on the beautiful campus of Chaminade University of Honolulu.  With the assistance of a $3000 Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Tia will graduate with her BS in Elementary Education by the end of this year. Tia expresses her gratitude for her scholarship saying, “Receiving the Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship has made it possible for me to arrive closer to my goal of completing my degree. The financial burden of college especially as an adult providing for a family can often times be overwhelming and can make your goal seem out of reach. Receiving the Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship has freed my mind from worry over finances so I can focus on my studies.”

Tia Alove Hicks

Tia is a proud Army spouse and mother of three school aged children.  Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Jason A Hicks, US Army, has recently returned from his third combat tour and is currently Food Advisor for all Hawaii based Army Units. How does Tia manage school, raise her children and support her husband’s military career? She relies on a cooperative support system of family, friends, and neighbors.  She adds, “whoever you find around you that you can trust – utilize them and be sure to return the favors! Oh and don’t forget; time management and casseroles!”  Sound advice for any student or military spouse.

Asked about her academic inspiration, Tia enthusiastically responded, “My children have been my biggest inspiration to study Elementary Education. I have always been an active parent and a big part of that has been volunteering in their classrooms. Being in the classroom and seeing first hand the many light bulb moments in the students has been a very rewarding experience. It’s like seeing your child take his/her first steps! Exciting.”

Even more exciting is Tia’s approach to teaching: My goal as a teacher is to make certain that all of my students are engaged in their personal learning experience.  If students are not engaged then they are most likely not learning. I don’t want to be the type of teacher that force-feeds information into the students and expect them to regurgitate that information on a pen and paper test. This to me is not teaching or learning.  I plan to first create a safe environment for my students, not just the physical environment but the mental environment as well. If students feel as if they will be ridiculed or laughed at for wrong answers they will not want to participate. My job is to encourage participation. I also plan to incorporate project based learning, this hands on type of learning is not just beneficial to students but fun as well. I want my students to enjoy learning. If I can instill in them a love of learning then I will have accomplished something.

Any student would benefit from the learning environment that Tia plans to teach in. ThanksUSA wishes Tia continued academic excellence and we look forward to an update from her first classroom. Keep up the good work Tia and send warm thoughts to all of our readers!

You can support students like Tia by making a $10 donation today…simply text THANKSUSA to 85944 to make your $10 donation.

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Abigail Halpin

I am always excited to introduce ThanksUSA scholarship recipients, especially those who have been awarded multiple scholarships. Since 2006, Abigail Halpin has received ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $9600. Most recently, this Air Force dependent was awarded a $3000 Col. Abraham M Ehrlich/ThanksUSA scholarship to complete her studies at Liberty University. As graduation approaches, Abigail shares her University experience, future plans, and thoughts on military life.

Majoring in Kinesiology with minors in both math and psychology, Abigail has taken full advantage of her educational opportunities. “Being awarded the ThanksUSA scholarship has provided great assistance in my academic success. Besides being a grader, which was a job I desired, I have not been forced to get a job at college, allowing me more time to focus on my school work without the added stress of paying for tuition. Without scholarship aid I would have faced a much more difficult college experience,” says Abigail.

With a kinesiology specialization in physical education and health, Abigail looks forward to student teaching this fall. She has always had an interest in health and fitness and is excited to share her enthusiasm with the next generation of students. Ultimately, Abigail plans to teach within the Department of Defense school system in which she was raised. “I would love to go back and teach the students who are in the same seats I sat in just years earlier,” she adds.

Abigail has excelled at her studies.  A member of the honors program since her freshman year, she has made the Dean’s list every semester. She is currently writing her Honors Thesis, but continues to make time for community and campus outreach. She has volunteered as a soccer coach with the Lynchburg Kids Sports League, been involved in dorm leadership, and has helped freshmen get acquainted with college life and grow in their understanding of the Bible.

In addition to her educational pursuits, Abigail is also planning her wedding.  The preparations for this joyous event are proving to be a challenge.  Abigail explains, “I rarely have the opportunity to see most of my closest friends. When we graduated from high school, our families moved all over the U.S.  It has been difficult planning my wedding without much assistance from my bridesmaids since they are so far away.  They help as much as they can, but it is different from what most people experience.”

Abigail also admits that she will miss many aspects of military life. She has become accustomed to things like Commissary & Exchange shopping, Tricare insurance, and being able to be seen at any military hospital. “I think I will notice even more of the benefits once I no longer have them,” adds Abigail.

Educational assistance is another benefit that many military dependents rely on. ThanksUSA is proud to have been a part of Abigail’s education for the past four years.  Please share this link with fellow military families to register for a reminder about ThanksUSA scholarship applications.  On behalf of ThanksUSA, I wish Abigail all the best with her upcoming nuptials and her teaching career…your students will be very fortunate to have such a devoted teacher!

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