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WATCH: UC Education Student Awarded $17,000 For Her Dedication to Young Learners

Angela Schmidt says there’s nothing quite like the reward of a young child’s eagerness for learning. Her own eagerness to build on that energy resulted in an award from a UC alumna who wanted to help future teachers in early childhood education.

Date: 6/21/2010
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Angela Schmidt of Westerville, Ohio, says she wants to be a real-life “Miss Frizzle,” the popular children’s book character who takes her classroom on wild rides through the solar system on her magic school bus.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in second grade,” says the 21-year-old Schmidt. Her passion, energy and commitment to taking children on an exciting adventure of learning is why Schmidt is the recipient of the 2010 Pearl M. Wright Award from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).

Schmidt, a student in the University Honors Program for academically talented students, was selected from 19 applicants and six finalists to receive the $17,000 award, which recognizes a UC early childhood education major’s dedication to serving young children. The award can be used for tuition and other college-related expenses, as well as for housing and living expenses.

The Pearl M Wright Award has been a CECH honor since 1999, coming from a $660,000 endowment established by Kathryn E. Wright, named in memory of her sister, Pearl. Both women graduated from CECH in the 1920s, dedicated their careers to education and shared a home in Clifton.

Angela Schmidt
Angela Schmidt, with the children's learning resources in the CECH Library

Pearl M. Wright spent 30 years working for Clifton School and was principal when she retired in 1957. Kathryn Wright dedicated much of her career to working with blind and visually impaired children at Bloom Junior High School, and later worked at Kirby Road School before taking early retirement to care for her ailing father.

Pearl M. Wright was 96 years old when she died in 1990. Kathryn’s will was written in 1992, four years prior to her death at age 95. Her will established the award as a tribute to her sister, specifying that the annual award honor a UC senior who “best exemplifies high moral and academic standards of a primary teacher – who is sensitive, loving and understanding of little children.”

As she looks ahead to her student teaching experience in a third-grade classroom at Hopewell Elementary School next fall, Schmidt says the Pearl M. Wright Award is both an honor and a humbling experience that will inspire her to want to do her very best “more than ever.”

“I love that feeling I get when I see a child understand something new, and when their smile shows that they are proud of their accomplishments. I want every child to know that they can succeed. I want every child to know that I believe in them. More importantly, I want every child to believe in themselves,” she says.

Angela Schmidt

Her commitment to young children has stretched beyond the classroom here in Cincinnati. “I cannot say enough about what Angela was able to do for my family,” says Doug Hess of Westerville, who hired Schmidt last summer to assist with his two young sons who were coping with the loss of their mother. “With the recent passing of my wife, I was in need of a competent, reliable and compassionate caregiver for my sons during their Christmas and summer breaks. I could not have been happier or more appreciative of the care that Angie provided for my boys, ages seven and eight,” said Hess.

“A successful early childhood experience is the foundation for future success,” Schmidt says. “The chance to impact the lives of children is not one that I take lightly.”

Schmidt also has worked on building her experience in working with a diverse population of learners. Over the summer, she’ll be heading to China for a two-week experience to teach English as part of a “Bridging the World” volunteer program, an experience that every member of her family has participated in. Schmidt participated in three previous trips to Beijing and Guiyang when she was in high school.

The Westerville Central High School graduate says that back in eighth grade, she knew she was coming to UC to pursue her future dream of teaching, after she paid a visit to her brother, Aaron, who graduated from UC with a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing back in 2008.

“I love the atmosphere of UC’s campus and I love the closeness of my CECH cohort. I’ve been in classes with the same group for the past year and it’s been a great way to share and learn from each other,” she says.

Her dedication to her UC experience has extended beyond her experience in the classroom, through working as peer leader for an early childhood education learning community last year and working two years as a resident advisor (RA), first in Turner Hall and this year in Schneider Hall.

Because she’ll be juggling a full-time student teaching experience as well as her own classroom studies next year, Schmidt says the Pearl M. Wright Award will be a tremendous support, since she’ll be giving up any part-time jobs to dedicate herself to a full-time senior year schedule.

“I firmly believe that Ms. Schmidt will make a significant contribution to the field of education as well as to the growth and development of the children whose lives she touches,” says Ellen Lynch, UC associate professor of early childhood education.

“I cannot wait to start my life as an early childhood teacher,” Schmidt says. “It’s hard to believe that I will soon have a classroom of my own.”

UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH)

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