The Graceland University Gleazer School of Education (GSOE) has several outstanding faculty members who instill the best pedagogy in their students. Leading by example, Associate Professor of Education Tanya Coffelt believes in the power of education and might be described as an overachiever within the GSOE.
Coffelt graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an endorsement in mathematics from Iowa State University and began her teaching career at a public school in Liberty, Missouri. After several years, she moved to the Fort Osage School District in the Kansas City metro and taught middle school mathematics.
Coffelt had always wanted to work with teachers and curriculum development, however, which led her to complete a master’s degree from University of Missouri — Kansas City (UMKC) in curriculum instruction. She then became the Assistant Director of Curriculum Instruction and completed an education specialist degree in educational administration, also from UMKC, and to complete her studies, Coffelt finished her doctorate from Drake University in educational leadership.
Coffelt started working for Graceland in 2006, when she joined the faculty in the GSOE. She explains, “Having gone to a large university, what really caught me about Graceland was the ability to work with students and get to know them much more than I ever did with my professors.”
“Having that relationship with my students and knowing them individually, as opposed to just teaching the curriculum, was an advantage that I wanted.”
She says she enjoys teaching several different classes: “I really like teaching Intro to Education the first semester or two that they get on campus.”
“I SEE THE STUDENTS AGAIN AS JUNIORS AND SENIORS AND WITNESS HOW MUCH THEY'VE GROWN. IT IS REALLY ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT MY JOB.”
One of the GSOE offerings that Coffelt raved over is the Professional Development School (PDS) partnerships Graceland University has with school districts in Iowa and Missouri. PDS offers a unique learning experience for elementary education majors during their senior year. The concept of the PDS program is to provide quality teacher preparation, renew the practice of in-service teachers, focus on reflection and inquiry, and impact student learning.
Graceland’s students are immersed into the school for a full year. Coffelt explains, “They are able to be involved in every aspect of an entire school year in a classroom. It is so much more beneficial for the students who choose to become involved in this program — something unique that they can put on their resume. They come out really prepared to start in a classroom of their own.
"Tanya uses examples from her past experience in teaching, which helps to give us good insight into our lives as future educators. By relating our class lessons to real-life examples, I gain a deeper understanding. She shows an interest in her students in and out of the classroom, and asks for our input and reflections to allow us to share our voice. Tanya has influenced me in my educational journey by showing me what it means to be a compassionate and understanding teacher."
Katelyn Matthiesen, a Graceland University junior majoring in elementary education with endorsements in early childhood and reading, is one of Coffelt’s current students.