Teaching from experience
A School of Education student and scholarship recipient’s military service sets her up for success in the classroom
By Brelyn Powell
Winter Minter is well on her way toward a career that combines her passion for teaching and the leadership skills she has developed as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard. This spring, she will graduate from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education with a master’s degree in elementary education.
“I’ve always loved teaching others,” says Minter, who has served in the National Guard for six years as a medic. “I’m really drawn to second and third grade, because students in those grades are at a really crucial developmental stage. They’re starting to be old enough to be more aware, but are also still in a stage of life where they’re willing to learn and absorb new things.”
Minter transferred to VCU in 2019 after earning her associate’s degree from Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Initially, she considered earning a degree in emergency medicine to build on the medical experience she’s gained during her military service.
“I’ve really loved my medic experience in the National Guard, but after a few semesters of that track, I realized how much I really wanted to teach,” she says.
But Minter has found ways to apply other skills she’s developed through her military experience, she says.
“A lot of the leadership skills that I’ve learned in the military are really applicable to the education career I’m working toward,” she says. “The military is changing its model for leadership. It’s not always ‘Get down and give me 50 pushups.’ It’s more about getting to know your soldiers and relating to them. Being able to apply that to the approach I hope to take in my classroom has made a big impact on my ability to effectively communicate with and relate to my students.”
Minter was selected as the 2021 recipient of the Meadows L. Phillips and Thomas H. Weatherford Veterans Scholarship, which supports full-time undergraduate or graduate student veterans in the School of Education. The award was established in 2011 through a memorial gift from alumnus David Phillips (B.S.’76/H&S; M.B.A.’82/B) and his wife, Joyce, in memory of his father and cousin, who were both veterans.
Receiving the scholarship felt like an affirmation of support from the school, Minter says.
“I didn’t even know about this opportunity for a scholarship, but the School of Education was proactive in offering it to me and I was so grateful,” she says. “It proved how much they supported me in my military and education careers.”
After she graduates, Minter hopes to find a teaching job at the school she attended growing up, Fredericksburg Christian School. She recently reenlisted in the National Guard, extending her service by six more years.
“I have a lot to look forward to,” she says.