VALDOSTA — Because he already held Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Vredeveld had the option of obtaining teacher certification by completing a supervised practicum. After talking to two recent graduates of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, however, he decided to further his education.
“They spoke highly of the program, and the total online nature really appealed to me,” he said. “Having to drive several nights per week to a distant educational center -- and the expenditure of gas money -- is not how I wanted to spend my evenings. I also decided that that quality of preparation for a special education teaching career would be much better working through an organized master’s degree program than with a more informal practicum.”
Vredeveld finished the requirements for the degree in five semesters. He took two classes during the fall and spring semesters when teaching and three classes during the summer semesters.
“The knowledge that I gained was invaluable in preparing me for the requirements of my teaching position, and by serendipity, I seemed to be enrolled in classes that just fit the needs that I had in my job,” he shared.
Vredeveld figures he has at least a dozen or so working years left to leave a mark on the youth of Wayne County.
“I enjoy working with the students,” he said. “I try to instill humor, motivation, and a positive attitude into my teaching. Sometimes the humor totally misses -- they really don’t understand punch lines from 1970s movies -- but I keep trying.”
Born in Lansing, Mich., Vredeveld moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., at the age of 7, and he still considers Chattanooga his hometown. He and his wife of three-plus decades have three children -- Brenna, 28, an environmental consultant in San Diego County, Calif.; Rebecca, 26, a recent graduate of the Master of Management in Hospitality program at Cornell University in New York who now works in restaurant management in Washington, D.C.; and Michael, 22, a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He serves as head coach for the Wayne County Parks and Recreation Department Piranhas swim team, and his wife assists. The couple participated in swimming as athletes in high school, in college, and with USA Masters Swimming.