Lifelong Learner Tackles Online Courses
As of May 7, 2020, New Iberia teacher Jodie Suire will hold not one but two degrees from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. At 61, she says reaching her goals keeps her feeling as young as her fellow graduates.
Suire originally enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1977, when it was still University of Southwestern Louisiana, but left to start her family.
When Suire was expecting her fourth child, her mother moved to New Orleans to pursue her degree, graduating at 52.
“When she graduated, and I saw that, it gave me a desire to go ahead and go back to school,” says Suire. “My mother was a shining example of being able to do something no matter what age.”
Suire looked at what she was already doing — volunteering in her children’s classrooms and school organizational committees — and decided to make her role more official.
Friends teaching at Daspit Elementary in New Iberia, where two of her children attended, encouraged Suire to make the leap. Today, that’s the same school where Suire teaches second grade.
When she began pursuing her bachelor’s degree in education at UL Lafayette in 1995, her four children ranged in age from pre-k to college freshman.
“I’ve gone to school with my children, honestly,” she says. “I feel like, at times, I did it so my kids could see that they could do hard things.”
Suire says she was always driven to earn her master’s degree. While she worked toward a certification in special education, UL Lafayette education professor Dr. Donna Wadsworth encouraged her to take that next step.
She enrolled in the Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, Special Education Diagnostics concentration.
“I was more interested in Curriculum and Instruction because of the changes that have been a challenge to all teachers,” Suire says. “I needed to stay current and active in knowing how and why we teach what we teach. I was able to tap into my special education background, experience and education in the process to be able to complete my Educational Diagnostics certification.”
Returning to the classroom as a graduate student brought new challenges and surprises.
Not only did Suire find herself among some of her former students, but she also had to navigate the online learning environment for the first time.
“I’ve liked it. It was challenging at times, but my professors have always been really good about helping out or answering questions,” she says. “If I can do it anybody can. I think that with the online courses offered as they are and the support students are given from the professors and the college and the school, there's no reason not to enroll.”
Suire says that support was integral in completing her degree, as she juggled school, teaching, and her family.
“It's been hard. And I think this is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done,” Suire says. “I had a handful of professors — Dr. Wadsworth, Dr. (Maria) Ruiz, Dr. (Toby) Daspit — who were phenomenal.”
“Those three teachers encouraged me not to give up, and there were times that I wanted to.”
With her master’s degree nearly in hand, Suire says she doesn’t intend to give up now, either.
“I've always had a desire to continue learning,” she says. “I will never stop. I probably will take a break for a little while and hopefully go back, to obtain my Reading Specialist certification and complete my plus-30 in education. I will be at UL Lafayette again in some capacity.
“I’ve always had a love for learning. I will be a lifelong learner.”
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