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From paraprofessional to teacher

September 7, 2022

Stacy Van Overbeke has spent a lot of time in the classroom, first as an occupational therapy assistant, then as a paraprofessional, and now in her current position as a special education teacher.

“I always loved working with children of any ability level and watching them learn, grow, and thrive,” she said.

With her experience in the classroom and her passion for working with children, she saw an opportunity to grow as a professional in the education field.

“I saw the need for teachers who enjoyed working with any student, regardless of their ability level. I also saw inclusion in the classroom as an important part of any student’s time at school,” she said.

Van Overbeke worked as a paraprofessional at the West Central School District while earning her Elementary and Special Education degree from Dakota State.

“DSU and the West Central School District accommodated my needs to grow as a future educator,” she said. “I was able to gain hands-on experience and knowledge while learning about teaching different populations of students.”

Her work in the classroom allowed her to meet the requirements of her case studies, create lesson plans for math, reading, and writing, and collect data for specific class assignments at DSU.

She also completed her student teaching at West Central. “I truly believe this helped me obtain my first teaching job at West Central,” she said. “I was able to work my way up with the help of supportive administrators at West Central and numerous professors at DSU.”

The online program gave Van Overbeke the flexibility to work at her own pace, complete classwork on nights and weekends, and still attend to her other responsibilities at her job and with her family. She wouldn’t have gone back to school without the online program.

“I was able to work on school when my boys were sleeping or simply just watching a movie,” she explained. “I was able to find the balance of work and home. This was a huge benefit for me being a part of DSU’s online education program.”

Van Overbeke found support through many of her professors, instructors, and advisors.

“Dr. Fiegen was very influential in my completion of this program by advising me during my time as a student teacher,” she said. He provided positive and constructive feedback for her to work on in the classroom.

“Kindra Schneider and Dr. Smith helped me realize, yes, indeed I can be an effective teacher in writing and math and enjoy doing it,” she added.

Sandi Steinhoff-Muller helped Van Overbeke stay on track to graduate as her advisor, and Lori Engebretson helped motivate and keep her on track to complete her Praxis testing (teacher certification tests).

She recommends the DSU program to any non-traditional students who want to better themselves. “You can totally make this work in your already busy schedule.”

Van Overbeke lives in Humboldt, S.D., on an acreage with her husband, two sons, Eli and Micah, and their St. Bernard, Charlie.

“Investing the time in myself will be the best decision I ever made for myself and my family,” she said.