Planners and calendars can help people organize their responsibilities and goals, but they cannot dictate the exact events and outcomes that will take place in someone’s life.
When Codie Sprinkle was first studying Medical Coding at a community college in North Carolina, no planner could have foretold that she would make it half way through her program before realizing she had lost interest in the medical field. Instead, she chose to take the education route and become a teacher. Codie had always loved school, but she knew many kids did not. She decided on a career in teaching so she could make learning fun. Codie enrolled with competency-based WGU in 2010 to earn a teaching degree online.
With every intention to begin teaching as quickly as possible, unexpected life events created a few hold ups and prevented Codie from completing her degree on schedule. The main obstacle being the end of an 8-year marriage that left her homeless while pregnant with baby number two. Codie completed schoolwork on a cell phone while she and her children lived with different friends and family for over a year and a half. Over time, life’s challenges pushed schoolwork out of the picture and Codie had to take a break.
“My son wasn’t aware of our living situation, but my daughter went through a rough patch,” Codie said. “She was used to her parents being together and being the only child. Because of her age when my ex-husband and I divorced, she has grown up more than she needs to be.”
In hopes of gaining independence back and providing stability for her children, Codie worked tirelessly in the call center of a medical supply company. After a while, she was able to save enough money to purchase some land. The dream of becoming a teacher had not dissipated either and Codie made an effort to volunteer in her daughter’s classroom as much as possible. “I remember looking through my mom’s college math books when I was eight years old and thinking math was so interesting,” she said. “As a young girl, I always wanted to play “teacher” with friends and help them learn.”
Volunteering in her daughter’s classroom helped Codie realize she was interested in working with younger kids. That interest was enough to push her back to WGU for the B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies program that qualifies her to teach grades K–8. “Through volunteering I was able to see that what I was learning through WGU really connected to the material my daughter was learning in her classroom,” she said. Codie enjoyed being in the classroom so much that she switched to teaching twice a week in her daughters class as well as a 3rd grade class at another elementary school. She loved watching the light bulb go off in a kids mind when they finally understood a new concept.
Numerous experiences during the visitation-teaching portion of Codie’s program gave her reaffirmation that teaching was the right career path. “I had a boy in my class who could not write the letter ‘W’ and declared that it was just too hard,” she said. “He told me that his parents weren’t reading to him or helping him with school. He could draw the letter ‘M,’ so I turned it upside down for him to see that he actually could write a ‘W.’ Kids are so appreciative and when that understanding hits, it is the best feeling in the world. I have witnessed how important parental influence is.”
Codie has overcome many life obstacles, but to her they are just part of the journey to becoming the teacher and role model she has always dreamed of being. She will be able to relate to students on a unique level and give them the encouragement they need to be successful.
In 2016, Codie remarried. Between the money she saved from working at the call center and her husbands’ hard-earned money from landscaping, they were able build a home on the land Codie had purchased the year before. She was preparing to start a new term with WGU in August of this year when life brought on more changes. Within one month, Codie gave birth to her fourth child, a baby girl, and her son had life-saving brain surgery. As the month was ending, Codie recalls lying in bed one night and smelling burning wires right above her head. Her husband could not smell anything, and neither could see anything wrong inside or outside of their home, but Codie still felt that something was wrong.
Friends of the couple held a belated baby shower for them the following day and five minutes after leaving their home and settling at the shower, someone ran up shouting their house was on fire. The home she had built just a few short years ago burnt to the ground in thirty minutes. Everything she owned was gone—irreplaceable treasures including her cat and dog. She watched as a backhoe swept up her children’s charred and burned toys among the debris.
“We didn’t let our kids see the house,” she explained. “They stayed with their grandparents for a couple of weeks while the house was taken apart. The kids were so upset, but my eight year old was really the only one who knew what was going on. Fortunately, her bedroom door was shut so a lot of her possessions were saved.”
Although no one would ever blame Codie for being angry or bitter about her hardships, she is as upbeat as can be with a positive outlook on the future. Sure, she took a little break as she literally picked up the pieces of her home, but she is proof that your misfortunes do not have to determine your future. That is something she will carry into teaching.
“With everything I had going on in August, if I had to take a test at 12:00 a.m., I could with WGU,” she said. With four kids—one that was sick and another playing on sports teams, Codie was able to sit down in her free hours, whether that was late at night or early in the morning and complete courses as quickly as possible.
She took a term break following the August events, but says she is still eager to work in the classroom and will be ready to begin her student teaching in January. There was no worry in her voice when asked if she was nervous to be in the classroom more.
“I feel so prepared for student-teaching,” she said. “Lesson planning was not always my favorite, but I was able to see how necessary it was during visitation teaching and I’m glad I got into the habit. I have been through a lot over the years, but WGU has been flexible and allowed me to complete my schooling. I will have my B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies after next term, and it has been a long, wonderful journey.”
After graduation, Codie plans to begin full time teaching ASAP. “I really want to teach the third grade because that’s when serious testing begins, or the sixth grade when students are transitioning to middle school and face a big academic and life change. I feel like I have something special to offer concerning life changes.”