Concordia Nebraska Assistant Professor of Education Amy Stradtmann

Published by Amy Crawford 1 year ago on Fri, Jan 27, 2023 3:33 PM

Concordia Nebraska Assistant Professor of Education Amy Stradtmann distinctly remembers when she transitioned from attending a public school to a Lutheran School. The public school she attended closed when she was in sixth grade, so her father decided the day before she began seventh grade that she would attend a local Lutheran school. 

“It was only for two years, but it made a huge impact in my brother’s life and my future, too,” she said. 

Upon entering Lutheran school, Amy noticed some immediate contrasts to her public school experience.   

“The faculty there, our teachers, were interested in us,” she recalled. “We were recipients of a home visit for the first time ever, which, as I was a seventh grader and my brother was a fourth grader, was awkward. But on the other hand, those teachers let us know how much they valued not just my brother and me, but our parents too.  That played a huge role. Another huge role [was] being able to see our teachers when we went to church with them. So, it was a unique ministry to the whole family.” 

Amy said her educational path was unique and winding, but ultimately led her to pursue a career in education.  Following her educational beginnings in public school, Lutheran middle school experience and Catholic high school, her teachers, relatives and others kept asking her about career goals and college plans. 

“I hadn't even thought about that!” she said. “[But] my grandmother came up with this idea… that I would make a great teacher. [And then] a coach that I knew from that Lutheran school experience brought me here to Concordia. Seward is the only place I visited because once I was here, I knew that this is where I was meant to be.”  

Amy studied to become a Lutheran educator at Concordia Nebraska and received a call to a school in Rockford, Illinois upon graduation.  She thought she would be there about three years, but ended up serving there for more than three decades.

“It's interesting how God worked in that path, too, because I started off as an elementary school teacher, became an elementary principal, and then had the privilege of working with two-year-olds when I was staying home with my kids,” she said. “And then I went from there to teaching middle school, being a middle school principal, and then eventually ending my time in a middle school and high school. God was still working, still moving. And He took me to that higher ed piece at Concordia Chicago, and then eventually brought me here to Concordia Nebraska. It has been fascinating how God has been that moving piece in my life and has set some incredibly important people and circumstances that were all planned for me.”  

Amy said that as a college student, the idea of teaching appealed to her, because it afforded her the opportunity to both work with people and be creative. Seeking to serve as a teacher in a Lutheran school, she said she had the opportunity to add the faith element to the teacher experience, as well.  

“That part has probably been the most exciting piece for teaching for me is how do I integrate my faith and help students to see that life, teaching, education, is outside of just the four walls of that school building,” she said. “It includes a variety of different aspects from their family, their community, but especially their faith.”  

Amy said many of her professors were instrumental in teacher her how to integrate her faith life into her work in the classroom. 

“They showed me by modeling it for me first, and then they stated it also as an expectation in several of the classes that I took,” she explained. “This was quite an unusual expectation for me because -  remember - I had a public-school background until I went to the seventh and eighth grade in a Lutheran school. And so, it was an out-of-the-box expectation for me, given my background, but it was one that I enjoyed the challenge of doing.”  

Amy said she experienced a variety of challenges in her first years of teaching. While some where somewhat expected, others were a bit unusual.

“I experienced some unusual challenges in those…first several years of teaching. A lot of that had to do with the schools that I chose to teach at or that God had called me to,” she said. “Some of those challenges included working with students who had no idea about Jesus, let alone the Bible or all those things that I just assumed that they would already know at first. That is incredibly intimidating or frustrating or discouraging. But what I found out long-term, those are the types of situations I love working in. I love being part of that child's story or that parent's story as they learned about Jesus, what they learned about reading the Bible and how to read the Bible.” 

Watching a child’s faith grow as they learn, seek to be baptized and engage in church activities is a tremendous joy, she added. 

“It is amazing to watch the Holy Spirit work in some of those unusual circumstances,” she said. “Some of the unexpected rewards that I have gotten from my teaching career have included seeing someone experience Jesus for the first time. Watering those seeds of faith has been amazing. But probably one of my favorite pieces, though, are the relationships that I have developed with kids and parents that I have continued to see over the last several decades. That relationship piece. Wow, that is such a big deal. And incredibly motivating and rewarding.” 

As she now guides and teaches young people who wish to serve as teachers, Amy said she seeks to share with students some of the things she didn’t know and realize at that age. 

“I want students to know that there is a huge opportunity out there. Even though I studied the field of education, I really thought that that meant that I was just going to be a second-grade teacher or a fifth-grade teacher,” she explained. “But what I want my students to know is that that field of education is changing and it's varied and there are amazing ways in which God will be able to use you. I had no idea that my path would ever lead me beyond being that classroom teacher, and yet that education provided a great background for me to be able to be an administrator, a program developer and a program leader. I just want my students to know that the options out there for their career and their ministry are just endless.” 

For students who are wondering whether seeking a degree in Lutheran education is the right fit for them, Amy asks students to look at their interests, desires and motivations.  

“You might have that heart for people, that heart for developing relationships, that heart for serving, and that heart for teaching lives and touching lives beyond this world. So, touching lives into eternity,” she said. “And a desire to be creative, a desire to serve, and a desire to touch the future. I mean, that's an opportunity that we have as teachers. How many other professions get to explore or enjoy that?”  

Interested in being a part of education programs at Concordia? Learn more here.