WSU helps student achieve dream of becoming a teacher

OGDEN, Utah – Lea Flinders wasn’t sure she would ever fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher, but a Weber State University scholarship changed her trajectory and sent her on the path to success. 

When Flinders was younger, her family moved frequently, forcing her to transition between schools often. As a shy child, she found it easy to fade into the background, but several influential teachers helped her see her value and shine her light. 

“There were a couple teachers who really made a difference and saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself yet,” Flinders said. “Coming back to school, I decided I needed to pay that forward. I want to be that influence to my students and show them that they can reach goals they never thought possible.”

Despite knowing she wanted to become a teacher one day, life took her on a different path after high school. She spent a short time in college, but quickly got married and had three children, delaying her plans.

After a divorce, Flinders felt it was time for change. She began working as a paraeducator at her oldest son’s school, where she discovered how much she loved teaching children.

When she remarried and moved, she began working for the Box Elder School District. There, her desire to become a teacher became a reality when she learned of the scholarship opportunities at Weber State. 

“One day, we received an email from the assistant superintendent telling us about the Teacher Assistant Pathway to Teaching scholarship at Weber State,” Flinders said. “I was talking to my supervisor about it and she wrote a date down on a sticky note and told me, ‘This date’s going to come whether or not you go back to school, so you may as well just go.’ And so I went for it.”

The TAPT program provides paraeducators the financial support and mentoring needed to become fully licensed teachers. The program helped Flinders attend school while still supporting her family.

As a nontraditional student with six children in a blended family, Flinders wasn’t sure she would fit in or succeed at Weber State, but she was met with a community of encouraging faculty and supportive peers who helped her on her journey to graduation. 

“I didn’t think that I would get here with the different challenges that I faced,” Flinders said. “There were so many times when I thought about giving up, and there was always somebody in my corner pushing me on and encouraging me. And so, no, I didn't think that I was gonna make it, but I did.”

Now that she has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and an endorsement in English as a second language, Flinders is excited to begin teaching fourth graders in the Box Elder School District this fall. 

“I think I’ve reached my summit, but that doesn’t mean I am done yet,” Flinders said. “I’m excited to see what else the world has in store for me. There may be other challenges ahead, but reaching this goal has helped reinforce the drive and fire inside me that will help me reach my next summit.”

Author:

Shaylee Stevens, Office of Marketing & Communications
801-626-7948 •  shayleestevens@weber.edu

Contact:

Bryan Magaña, Public Relations director
801-626-7948 • bryanmagana@weber.edu