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Dordt College News

Dordt Master of Education program draws international student

July 29, 2011

Most teachers and students are on break from school work during the summers, but for 52 teachers in Dordt's graduate education program this summer is no vacation.

The Master of Education degree is designed to fit into the life of in-service teachers – even those who live far from campus. This year, students come from as far away as Washington and even Nigeria. Karen Nwulu, a third-year student from Nigeria has come to Dordt College to earn her masters degree. Her experiences as a teacher and school founder in Nigeria are unique.

Nwulu grew up as a child of Christian missionaries and has spent her life in both America and Nigeria. She has been teaching in Nigeria for 20 years in a learning environment that began with eight children studying in her home and expanded to a large Christian academy for children from preschool through high school. “It was like a homeschool in my home, and it just gradually took over our home and expanded into the neighboring properties. Suddenly I realized I am running a school.”

Diving in as a teacher and school administrator was often overwhelming for Nwulu. "I guess it’s like the story of Solomon. I felt like I was a kid who was suddenly supposed to run a kingdom. I was not a teacher when I started to run the school. It forced me to rely on God one thousand percent."

As the school grew, Nwulu became more interested in furthering her own education saying that she wanted to learn more about the science of teaching.

"Since I’ve enrolled, not only have I learned so much, but when I go to conferences and meetings with international directors and I say that I’m enrolled at Dordt, all they can say are wonderful things about this place," said Nwulu. "I've met two experienced educators, directors of international Christian schools for 20 years, and they both said that Dordt graduates are so well trained. I think God has really done something wonderful for me by sending me to a place that I didn’t even know existed a couple years ago."

This year is Nwulu's third summer in Sioux Center, taking graduate courses at Dordt College. She appreciates the unique local community, citing her experiences with the hotel clerk who offered to drive her to her classes when it was raining, and the gas station attendant who willingly gave up her umbrella so Nwulu wouldn’t get wet in the sudden Iowa downpour.

"Even as I’m walking people just wave, and I think 'This reminds me of home.' People care about people. That is really special about this community," said Nwulu.

The Dordt College Master of Education degree is a 10-course, 30-semester-hour program consisting of two program options: Curriculum and Instruction, and Educational Leadership. The Curriculum and Instruction program aims to provide a theoretical and practical experience for the educator who wants to learn more about how to teach Christianly. The Educational Leadership program prepares the student to become an educational leader in the field of special education or the role of principal.

Most courses consist of pre-classroom work followed by one week on campus during the month of July to complete a course. This year, Dordt College’s courses include Implementing Instructional Strategies, Spiritual Formation in the Classroom, and Current Issues in Education. Online classes include Advanced Educational Psychology, Research Methods in Education, Structuring School Curriculum, Enhancing Learning with Technology, Middle School Curriculum and Instruction, and Practicum in Curriculum and Instruction.

The Dordt College master of education program is approved by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Iowa Department of Education.

PHOTO: Karen Nwulu is pictured on photo's left.

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