A Lucky Laptop

Evening student Isaac Southwick receives a computer

photo of laptop
By Whitney Dreier

When Chad Schatz, director of Veterans Education and Training for the Missouri Department of Education, attended the DoD Worldwide Education Symposium in July 2012, he expected to explore strategies to effectively deliver voluntary education programs that enhance servicemembers’ capacities to serve while enabling them to improve their quality of life.

Schatz did not expect to win an ACER notebook computer.

Almost immediately, however, Schatz decided to donate the computer to Columbia College. The school is one of several institutions Schatz works with in his role as program manager for Troops to Teachers, which helps eligible military personnel begin new careers as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed. Schatz worked with the Veteran Services Committee to identify a student veteran deserving of the computer. "I thought it was most appropriate to donate it to a veteran at Columbia College," he says. "Someone who could really use the laptop."

Mike Randerson, Isaac Southwick and Chad Schatz
The choice was easy. Air Defense Artillery Officer Isaac Southwick did some course work at Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks before starting on the teacher certification track of the MAT on main campus – thanks to the GI Bill. He graduated Dec. 15, 2012 with a 3.90 GPA.

“I don’t feel worthy of a gift,” Southwick says of the computer. “I have just been going to school and learning to be a better teacher for my students. I am very thankful to Mr. Schatz.” Southwick and his wife use the computer primarily to create reading enrichment lessons for his son, who is in preschool.
"It's not so much about the laptop. It's about what these guys and girls do. It's a gesture that leads to a greater good." -Chad Schatz

Southwick currently works as a junior high and high school Special Services teacher in Stoutland, Mo., about two hours east of his hometown of Joplin, Mo. He credits Columbia College with his success in the classroom – and his desire to one day pursue a degree in educational administration. “I learned how to effectively teach my students from this program. [Education Department Chair Dr. Paul] Hanna’s passion for training teachers really is exhibited in how I approach my students. His wisdom and love of teaching have directly impacted my classroom.”

Southwick is also grateful for Columbia College’s commitment to student veterans. “I know that many satellite campuses are available on military installations,” he says. “This means a lot to me as a veteran; I know many of our servicemen and women have full schedules training to protect our great nation. While I did not attend Columbia College while I was in service, I was aware of a campus available at my duty station. As a veteran, I know that the veteran’s office helped me understand my benefits and my responsibilities as a student.”


Nadav said...

Wow, it's really great to see that talented people get rewarded for their mind.