The 15th Anniversary of Our First Graduate

On December 1, 2000, Genevieve Kirch of Roy, Utah, earned her Master of Education in Learning and Technology degree from WGU’s Teachers College, becoming our very first graduate. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of her graduation, we checked in with Genevieve to see how her career and life have developed since completing her master’s program.

Genevieve was about halfway through her teaching career as a licensed elementary school teacher when she came to WGU, and she continued to teach full time throughout her master’s degree program.

With a love for all things teaching and education, she became involved in different organizations, and her career opportunities grew quickly. In 2002 she was hired at Weber School District in Ogden, Utah, as a technology facilitator for teachers.

Microsoft launched a program focused on implementing technology in the classroom, and Genevieve was selected to become an Intel® Teach to the Future program teacher. She had the opportunity to train other teachers in the Weber School District on implementing technology into their classrooms.

Throughout her master’s program, Genevieve says she felt empowered and in charge of her education. She wanted the youth in her classrooms to feel that same way and developed computer assignments with a checklist for the students to mark off when they mastered the concepts—similar to the competency-based education she received at WGU. Her teaching philosophy since has been to ensure education meets the needs of the one.

A master’s degree has continued to open new career opportunities for Genevieve over the years. She was selected to participate in The Larry H Miller Foundation History Program (now known as Driven 2 Teach) and completed a program focused on helping teachers improve the way history is taught in Utah schools.

Genevieve had a fulfilling and very successful career as a teacher and chose to retire in June 2014, but she never really retired. She still teaches part time because, in her words, “When you have a skill set, you don’t want it to ever go to waste!”

Monday through Thursday she works half days at Two River Adult Education through the Weber School District, teaching adult education classes to those striving to graduate with their high school diploma. It is very self-directed, but Genevieve facilitates their learning. She also spends a lot of time volunteering with community organizations and is a participant on the Roy City Planning Commission.

“The greatest thing I’ve accomplished in my life was becoming a teacher and completing my master’s degree,” Genevieve said. “I recently attended a wedding for a former student of mine and saw many other students there. It brings me so much joy to see the people they have become and what they have done with their education.”

Several of her co-workers have since completed master’s degree programs at WGU as well. In fact, a former colleague was also a WGU graduate and taught the same grade level, so the two would work on their class curriculum and plans together at the start of each school year.

“We used the same model and methods of teaching in our classrooms that we learned from WGU,” she said.

“I always wanted to further my education, but I just could not take the time away from teaching to attend a brick-and-mortar school,” she said. “Through WGU, I was able to coordinate and complete my school work on my own schedule. WGU made it possible to get a quality education and fit school into the nooks and crannies of a busy life, putting me in the driver’s seat for my future.”

In addition to part-time teaching and volunteering, Genevieve has developed a love and appreciation for genealogy work and is currently taking a course on German genealogy to help her with more in-depth research into her German and Scottish background.

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