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Future elementary instructor still learning lessons from former third-grade teacher

When Lindsey Spratt arranges her classroom for her first teaching job at Ballard East Elementary School in Cambridge, Iowa, this fall, she’ll fulfill a life-long dream.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Spratt said. “I looked up to my teachers.”

Spratt graduated this spring from Iowa State University with a degree in elementary education. She was among 191 teacher education graduates who took part in the university’s third cording ceremony, celebrating completion of the educator preparation academic program and induction into the teaching profession.

When it came time for Spratt to choose the person who would present her with a light-blue, field-of-education cord at this year’s Educator Preparation Cording Ceremony, Spratt chose Jean O’Brien, her third-grade teacher.

O’Brien, who began her own teaching career in 1970, was so honored to reconnect with Spratt that she’s giving her former student a special gift from her own years in the teaching profession.

“I’m cleaning out my attic and giving everything to Lindsey,” O’Brien said.

Armed with treasures from O’Brien’s attic, Spratt has another set of tools for her teacher toolbox. That toolbox was added to time and again over Spratt’s years at Iowa State.

Spratt, like other future teachers who successfully completed Iowa State’s educator preparation program, experienced a Cyclone adventure that prepared her well for a career in classroom instruction.

“Our students are prepared in a research-based preparation program,” said Marlene Strathe, director of the School of Education. “Iowa State is well-known for our emphasis in instructional technology, and for the hands-on experience we give our students in classrooms.”

Spratt will be teaching fourth-graders — which was also O’Brien’s first teaching assignment. The longtime teacher is quick to praise the elementary mindset.

“They just tell you like it is,” O’Brien said. “They love you. They respond to you.”

That lesson hasn’t been lost on Spratt.

“I want to love my kids as I’ll love my own,” she said. “I want to be a mentor to them as Jean was to me.”