April 30, 2013 12:00AM
As she prepared for a career in education, Bethany Strasser heard all about the possible challenges she would face as a classroom teacher. Her first year on the job didn’t disappoint.
“The horror stories are true about first-year teachers,” said Strasser, a 2011 Pittsburg State graduate and engineering technology teacher at Ramay Junior High in Fayetteville, Ark. “It is not easy, and life will throw you curve balls one could not have dreamt about.”
Rather than back down from the challenges, however, Strasser faced them head-on. She leaned on her colleagues at Ramay and on the PSU faculty who helped get her there.
“I had a lot of support from the faculty at Ramay and from my professors at Pitt,” she said. “The relationships I formed while in college allowed me to ask for help even though I had graduated.”
More than survive her first year as a full-time professional, Strasser excelled at high levels. Her work did not go unnoticed and she received two prestigious Arkansas education awards.
She was named the 2012 Outstanding New Engineering and Technology Education Teacher of the Year by the Arkansas Technology and Engineering Educators. This award is meant to encourage new teachers to remain in the profession. Recipients of this award must have made significant contributions toward innovative, unique and novel programs and have shown a professional commitment early in their careers.
Her program at Ramay also received the 2012 Program Excellence Award from the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, one of the highest honors given to technology and engineering classroom teachers on the K-12 level.
Strasser said she was “humbled” by the awards and that they motivated her to continue to succeed.
“It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers, especially in your first year,” she said. “It makes you want to keep doing well, not only for yourself but also for your students and your school.”
Matt Saferite, principal at Ramay Junior High, said he and the entire staff at Ramay are proud of Strasser’s early success.
“It’s a testament to her work by herself and with her colleagues and it’s a testament to her background,” he said. “We’re very pleased with the education she received at Pittsburg State and how she’s applying it here. She’s a great teacher, and we’re happy to have her.”
Growing up in Pittsburg, Strasser said she always looked forward to attending PSU. She said her university experience matched and surpassed her expectations.
“Pitt State was awesome,” she said. “I loved my tech ed classes. I could go in there and spend hours working, and the professors never turn you down. They always said, ‘You want to build this? Let’s do it.’ Pitt State really showed me and helped me attain the tools that I need.”
Her time at PSU also served to enhance Strasser’s desire to teach.
“I am sure that my passion and talent in teaching can be credited largely to the technology education program at Pittsburg State,” she said. “Through my time at Pitt State, I learned how to make presentations count and lessons matter. They taught me to take pride in my work. They always pushed me to do better. They taught me the importance of learning by doing.”
And in those times when she needs a little boost, she knows just where to turn for help.
“I know that any time I need something, Pittsburg State is there for me.”