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WGU Graduate Speaker, Lisa Prindle

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Lisa Prindle
Western Governors University
<p>WGU Commencement in Austin, Texas on October 12, 2019. Lisa Prindle earned her Bachelor of Arts, Special Education Degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Lisa Prindle: I got to follow two of them. [Chuckles] Wow, thank you for selecting me to be up here. I worked in education for 20 years. And I've always dreamed of becoming a teacher. But over the years, I've had a lot of reasons to question the school. Or to even give up on it entirely. I was often told that I was "too happy or too enthusiastic or too cheerful." My own son in law, who works at the same school once asked me, "Are you trying to irritate people?" [Laughter] When I asked, "What do you mean?" He pointed out that I like to sing as the kids get off the bus. "It's too early in the morning to be that cheerful," he told me. </p> <p>But I always believe that kids deserve cheerful. They deserve someone who is too enthusiastic about nurturing their young minds and starting their day off with a positive attitude and an excitement to learn. </p> <p>When I was a paraprofessional, someone once told me to stop doing all the extra stuff like coming up with learning games or staying late to help a student. Because I was making them look bad. But for me, it wasn't about them looking bad or about me looking good, it was about the students. I was enthusiastic, cheerful, and energetic because teaching was my passion. These kids were my passion. </p> <p>Before getting into education, I had gone to school with a goal of getting into the medical field. But medicine it turns out was not my real passion. I started working in education in 1999 in San Diego. I first started as a volunteer and then moved on to become a para. My oldest child, who was seven at the time, was having behavioral problems in school, and I was being called nearly every single day. </p> <p>At the time, he had been given a standard ADHD diagnosis. It wasn't until later that he would be identified as having Autism Spectrum Disorder. I worked with him on his behaviors, and I stood by the motto, "it's okay to be mad or frustrated, but it's not okay to be mean." My experiences working with my son were crucial to my work as a para, and my experiences in the classroom. In turn, strengthened my skills as a mom with special needs. </p> <p>In fact, in 2005, we adopted four children out of the foster care system. Two of them suffered with reactive attachment disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome. It was very difficult to parent these kiddos, but we did all we could. And during those years I continued to work with students whenever I could. </p> <p>Once most of my children had graduated, I decided it was time for me to finally get my teaching degree. I had enjoyed being in the classroom so much, but despite my passion, I remained plagued by bullying I had received earlier in my career for being "too much." Then I found Erin Gruwell, a teacher from California whose students, known as the Freedom Riders, wrote a series of diary entries that turned into a Hillary Swank movie. The opportunities were considered unteachable, and at risk. But Miss Gruwell knew better. She saw an ugly incident in her classroom and turned it into a learning moment. And it changed the lives of those students. It also changed my life. </p> <p>One day, I was reading one of Miss Gruwell's diary entries. I began to cry... right in front of the students. She told of being bullied for being "too preppy," criticized for being "too enthusiastic." She was told she cared "too much" because she used her own money to buy books and take her at risk students on field trips so that they could have the same experiences as other students. She was doubting herself and her calling. </p> <p>But then she writes: "My hypocrisy hit me. All year long I had encouraged my students to avoid using labels like 'all' and other gross generalizations. If I let a few other teachers chase me away, the kids would be the ultimate losers. They would think that I, like so many others, had bailed on them." When I read this I realized that like Miss Gruwell, my motivation has always been my students. So I kept going, kept trying, and held my head high. I completed that school year saying good bye to my students as their para, and this fall, I returned as their student teacher, thanks to WGU. [Applause] </p> <p>Thank you. Like Erin Gruwell, I choose these kids because I still believe that any child can learn. Oh, and my son... the one on the spectrum, he went on to serve four years in the United States Marine Corps [cheers and applause] including a deployment to Afghanistan. [Applause] He graduated with his associate's in criminal justice, and is currently at UCSS majoring in criminal justice, forensics. [Applause] He just needed someone who didn't give up on him, and someone who held him to higher standards. </p> <p>I will continue to hold every student to the same high standard, even if the world has low expectations for them. They are why I became a teacher. So while I am too enthusiastic, too cheerful, these kids are my kids. I will be there for them now, thanks to WGU, as their teacher. And they will always know they have a safe place to come to in my classroom. [Applause] </p> <p>Thank you, and congratulations class of 2019 for never giving up! [Applause] </p>
Western Governors University
© 2019 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)