A Joyful Spirit
Rachel Dudley (pictured far left), the first recipient of the Emily Wagner Scholarship, said receiving the award was one of her proudest moments as a College of Education student.
“To know that someone not only sees the same promise in me but is willing to put down the foundations for my future is truly humbling and gratifying,” she said.
Emily Wagner was a language arts teacher at Francis Granger Middle School in Aurora, Ill., when she died in 2010 at age 30. She had a passion for reading and writing and enjoyed selecting books she knew would resonate with her students.
Her family and friends created a scholarship in her honor to “encourage others to live in the spirit that Emily did…to live with a joyful spirit and a deep commitment to learning, to conquer new challenges, and to make a difference.”
Dudley is a secondary English Education major with a theater-arts minor.
In addition to receiving the scholarship, Dudley said her other proudest moment came during her practicum last fall. She was able to design and teach a weeklong vocabulary lesson.
“This was the first time I ever had the chance to teach in an English class, and I was nervous,” she said. “When I was grading the tests at the end of it, though, and saw how many students did well, I was super excited. To be honest, I don’t know if I was more proud of myself or them.”
Amy Shoultz, a clinical associate professor in English education, said Dudley has a great combination of competence and confidence.
“She forges great relationships with young adults and is ready and willing to do what it takes to help students learn,” Shoultz said. “She has a great attitude.”
Dudley spent time abroad as an exchange student in high school and again in Korea last summer. She said she hopes to spend part of her teaching career abroad. Upon her return to the States, her dream is to find a high school with little or no drama department and help build one.
“It will take a lot of collaboration and a lot of work, but students are capable of creating professional-quality shows, if only someone will take the time to help them,” she said.