Jessica Carter moved back to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania when her husband completed his service in the United States Air Force. She was working at a credit union, but knew that it wasn’t her passion. Then, Jessica was offered a paraprofessional position at her child’s elementary school, and it lit a fire in her belly. That’s when she knew that she wanted to dedicate her career to teaching young students. She had family that went through the Shippensburg teacher education program, and she reached out to them for insight and advice.

The Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School (GBLUES) is Shippensburg’s beacon of commitment to quality teacher preparation. Since 1871, Ship has provided its students and its surrounding community with a model laboratory school. Students majoring in education, early childhood, psychology, sociology, criminal justice, social work and counseling engage in the study of children ages one to eleven through observation booths, tutoring, or whole-class activities. Shippensburg is the only university in Pennsylvania with an on-campus public elementary lab school for teacher education students. Jessica, unfortunately, missed out on some of her lab experiences due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But she knows the importance and uniqueness of GBLUES being an on-campus treasure for students and new teaching professionals.

Jessica’s life doesn’t look like the “traditional” college student’s life with residence and dining halls. She has a husband and children at home, and her responsibilities go well beyond those of most 18 year olds. But she knew deep inside her that she wanted this to work, and that she’d finish with a four year teaching degree from Ship. She attributes her success to wonderful relationships and supportive faculty and staff  in the College of Education and Human Services.

A personalized education was important to Jessica, and she found that at Shippensburg. Given the competing priorities on her time, she needed a great deal of efficiency to get things done. She also needed compassion from professors who knew that she was a Mom first. It didn’t take long for Jessica to see that there was a clear return on investment for her in the program, and that a teaching job outcome would be no problem with a degree from Shippensburg University.