The back of Old Main’s second floor serves mostly the School of Education. Besides the professors’ offices, you’ll pass bulletin boards with advertisements for teaching opportunities, notices about program updates, and office hours of the professors. One of these professors is Janelle Coleman, who teaches early childhood classes. In fact, she’s in a classroom a few doors down, wrapping up her final lecture of the semester.
Come on in and join the conversation as Mrs. Coleman introduces herself.
How did you become interested in Early Childhood Education?
Working with children is something I’ve always enjoyed. My mother and grandfather were also teachers, so I was surrounded by education my entire life. When I was growing up, I helped my mom with bulletin boards and other classroom tasks. So I guess I grew into my love for teaching all along. Further along in my education, the Lord pointed out the importance of helping children grow and take the next step in their education.
I’ve always enjoyed teaching in more active, hands-on ways so that I can shape my students’ attitudes toward learning—whether that means rotating around our desks, planting flowers, or measuring the schoolyard to see how long a kilometer is.
What did you do before MBU? What is your educational background?
I’ve worked with children in the classroom from preschool through sixth grade. I taught for nine years in a Christian school in Florida but substituted in the public school system for a semester as well. Substituting fourth grade in a public school helped me gain experience, especially in classroom management. It also solidified my love for Christian education. I wanted to express my worldview in the classroom. While teaching in the public school is extremely important, there is a freedom for me in being able to share what the Lord was doing in my life and to share verses of encouragement to the students.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in Personnel Services (guidance counseling), and a master’s in Early Childhood Education.
What brought you to MBU?
In the fall of 2011, the Lord moved our family to Wisconsin from Florida. My husband became the assistant registrar at Maranatha. For the first two years, I stayed at home with my children. Then the door opened up to teach in the School of Education at MBU. It has been a dream experience and a privilege to help the next generation of teachers.
What is your favorite part of MBU?
Where do I start? It’s such a neat opportunity to teach in a place where I can freely express my biblical worldview in my teaching. I love my students. I love watching them grow in their understanding of how to teach young children, and, even more, I love seeing them grow in their walk with the Lord.
It’s not just the students, though. I also love the faculty. My coworkers are highly qualified, skilled, godly educators. I am always challenged by their lives to be better both in my profession and in my walk with the Lord. I struggle to put this appreciation into words because words don’t do this idea justice.
What is your advice to prospective students?
To students in general: Be teachable and be a hard worker. Be willing to learn, and be willing to work hard at what you are studying. Be observant.
To students specifically interested in the Early Childhood Education Program: We have a great community of learners here who desire to grow in the field of education. If you are able, volunteer or work in a classroom setting to help confirm in your mind whether or not you want to teach young children. This can also give you background knowledge that will enhance your learning when you get to college.
What is a proud moment from your life?
Each May, when my students graduate, I enjoy one of my proudest moments. I have welcomed students in as freshman, watched them grow in their understanding and pedagogical practice, then finally I’ve observed many of them in student teaching. Seeing them go out and begin teaching children is a proud moment.
I love watching my twins grow. Two moments that I am most thankful for are when they trusted Christ as Savior. I’m thankful for the Lord working in their hearts and lives. Seeing them advance through life and learn and develop is amazing to watch.
Can you tell us about your family?
I have six-year-old twins, who are the delight of my heart. They are active and energetic, love learning, love hugs, enjoy reading, sing all the time, and make up stories in play. I enjoy watching and being with them. They don’t know it, but they provide many of my class illustrations. I learn from them every single day. When I first became a mother, I started writing about how the Lord was teaching me through them. It was a way to do devotions and center my thoughts on the Lord in the busy early days of mothering twins. It is a humbling and wonderful experience to be a parent, and I’ve learned much about our heavenly Father through parenting.
My husband is the Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at MBU. He makes sure that the college is constantly improving and maintains accreditation compliance. He is probably somewhere on campus talking about assessment.
Do you have any hobbies or hidden talents?
I wrote and helped lead a couple short plays for elementary programs. I sought to make the programs more enjoyable to both watch and perform. I played the French horn throughout high school and college and a little bit afterwards. I also coached high school volleyball. Our family loves to play board games together, and we enjoy visiting the beach when we visit family in Florida.
Are you working on any big projects right now?
I just finished a second master’s degree in the fall, so there is nothing at the moment. But I’m sure the next adventure is on the horizon.