VALDOSTA — After spending 27 years in the corporate world, Walter C. Vredeveld decided to switch things up and enter the world of education. He graduated from Valdosta State University on July 27 with a Master of Arts in Teaching in special education-general curriculum.
Where Vredeveld, who prefers to be called “Walt,” once spent his days working in distribution and customer service management with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation -- four years in Pittsburgh, Pa., and 11 years in Baltimore, Md. -- and with Rayonier in Jesup, he now spends his days educating the boys and girls in the Wayne County School System.
“Toward the end of … [my first] career, I began to question this line of work and my legacy,” he said. “I realized that I was not enjoying the work, not finding it fulfilling, and did not see lasting benefits to myself nor my community. In the process of raising my three children and in searching for an answer to the above concerns, I became very involved in youth and community activities. I became passionate about these activities and began to develop a plan to transition from the corporate world to a second career in youth and/or community endeavors. The plan was accelerated when my position with Rayonier was eliminated in 2008. Having moved to Jesup in 1997, my spouse, Martha, and I valued our place in the community and did not want to move for my employment. Therefore, we initiated the second career plan. Both of my parents are retired educators, and my brother has been a high school history teacher for 25-plus years, so I have finally joined the ‘family business.’”
Vredeveld’s transition into education began in the fall of 2008 when he accepted a position as a substitute teacher at both Martha Puckett Middle School and Arthur Williams Middle School in Jesup. In November of 2010, the 55-year-old husband and father of three was hired as a full-time special education inclusion teacher at Wayne County High School. He entered VSU in January of 2011, taking classes online via the Georgia ONmyLINE initiative. He said his goals were “to learn to better perform my job, to help my students excel, and to obtain that coveted renewable certificate.”