By Jim Nieman
A 2020 graduate of Mid-Atlantic Christian University was honored as the North Carolina Student Teacher of the Year for her work this spring with J.C. Sawyer Elementary School in Elizabeth City, N.C.
Grace Minter, who is blind, graduated from MACU in May with a degree in elementary education and a minor in Bible. She was valedictorian. Minter now serves as a Braille education teacher with Governor Morehead School, a school for the blind in Raleigh, N.C.
In email correspondence with Christian Standard, Minter credited MACU’s “superior” teacher education program, dedicated teachers, and mentorship relationships with helping prepare her for success in her career and in life.
She attended high school in North Carolina, but Minter wasn’t familiar with MACU until she began her college search. “I wanted to receive an education where Christ and his Word were at the center of my learning. . . . I attended a Tuesday tour [at MACU] and had a fantastic and welcoming experience,” and so she decided to go there.
Minter grew up in a Christian home where she could “see and hear about Christ’s love every day” from her parents. As a high schooler, she spent time studying the Bible and delving into apologetics. At MACU, Minter said she grew in her faith and as a person.
“Living independently on campus with my faithful guide dog, Stormy, taught me a lot about my ability to grow into a fully capable adult and about the importance of responsibility,” she said. “The best parts for me [at MACU] is that we were not just taught about the Bible, but [we were] taught how to study it to find answers for ourselves.”
“Grace was an amazing student,” said Beth L. Strecker, director of teacher education at MACU. “She always went above and beyond.”
At J.C. Sawyer Elementary, Minter taught second-graders in a traditional classroom setting.
“She always wanted to be treated like everyone else, and we had the same expectations for her as we did for all of the teacher candidates,” Strecker said. “She used assisted technology to help her visually see print and student work, which the students at J.C. Sawyer thought was so cool. She . . . has a natural ability to connect with others.”
“[She has a] deep concern for the progress of all students,” said Elizabeth Reid, one of her professors and a volunteer in the classroom where she interned. “[She was] particularly drawn to ensuring that poor performers had equal access to opportunities for making progress.”
Minter credited Reid and her clinical educator at Sawyer Elementary, Chelsea Swyers, for their mentorship.
“As a student teacher at J.C. Sawyer Elementary School, my favorite thing to focus on was literacy and reading comprehension,” Minter told the Carteret County News-Times in Morehead City, N.C., where she graduated from high school. “I truly believe that reading enriches our lives in so many ways and is the access point to so many other areas of learning.”
“As a legally blind teacher with a guide dog, I don’t just value diversity, I personify it,” Minter told the News-Times. Her message for students: “Any challenge can be overcome with the right mind-set.”
Each of North Carolina’s teaching colleges and universities selected a finalist for the Student Teacher of the Year award. A panel selected Minter for the top prize from among 10 finalists. She is the first MACU student to win the award.
Now serving as a Braille education teacher in Raleigh, Minter said, “I get to do exactly what I love, teach literacy to open doors for my students.”
“I am so thankful for the ministry Christ has given me to love and serve my students in every way I can and to show them how worthy they are and how much they are loved,” Minter said. “I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.