Shane Kokensparger spent eight years as an active-duty Marine and another six in the reserves, so he needed some help with making the switch from military life to a career of working with kids with special needs.
Kokensparger, a native of Holland, Ohio, who has one semester left to earn a degree in intervention specialist education, chose The University of Findlay because it was "adult-friendly" and offered "smaller classes, individual attention ó the extra time and services they provide for nontraditional students who are trying to get back in the swing of being full-time students."
While Findlay is more expensive than some educational options, "It was better to pay more to get a better education than to pay less and not have a full, core knowledge of what I wanted," he said.
"Faculty definitely played a key role," he continued. "When it came time to doing course work, professors would stay late or meet you on Saturdays, and they were always a phone call away," even to the point of his adviser, Dr. Susan Brooks, taking a call at home at 9 o'clock on a Friday night.
As he went through his placements at Jacobs Primary School in Findlay, Bowsher High School in Toledo and now student teaching at Fostoria Middle School, Kokensparger admitted that he sometimes had a hard time leaving military ways behind and making the move to educational best practices.
"A lot of military people aren't kid-friendly," he admitted, adding that it was easier for him, as an office mail manager who worked for the Judge Advocate General's office, than for someone who had seen active combat. Still, "I had to work on toning back the ëmilitary way' and doing it the educational way. Dr. [Penny] Soboleski, who also has military background, has been helpful and a voice of reason as to why things are done a certain way."
He also cited the college dean, Dr. Julie McIntosh, and her open-door policy for faculty, staff and students, as well as the help the college provided when academic scheduling caused issues for completing his placement in Toledo. "The College of Education has just been wonderful to me."
As he looks forward to a teaching career, Kokensparger is willing to drive up to an hour to teach, a concession to his wife, who has taught in Findlay City Schools for nine years.
Kokensparger is one of several veterans who have chosen The University of Findlay, which has been named a Military Friendly School for 2010 and 2011 by G.I. Jobs magazine. UF is among the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America's veterans as students.
Criteria for making the Military Friendly Schools list included efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students, results in recruiting military and veteran students and academic accreditations.
Schools on the Military Friendly Schools list (militaryfriendlyschools.com) also offer additional benefits to student veterans such as on-campus veterans programs, credit for service, military spouse programs and more.
The University is participating in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. UF will provide up to $8,900 per veteran, per academic term, for any qualifying veteran, to assist with educational expenses, and the Veterans Administration will match UF's contribution. For more information on educational benefits for veterans at The University of Findlay, visit findlay.edu, KEYWORD: Veteran.