The Fast Track

A spur of the moment visit to Randolph set Kerry Frankfort on the path to earning her Master of Arts in Teaching.

Kerry Frankfort and her husband had a plan for how they would earn their masters’ degrees. He would go first while she worked, and then they would switch.

But a spur of the moment stop at Randolph College last summer changed that plan—and Frankfort’s life. “I just wanted a pamphlet,” she remembered. “But they told me I could enroll in August.”

The next thing she knew she was beginning classes. And just one year later, Frankfort has earned her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and already has a job teaching special education students at a Lynchburg elementary school. Her husband Patrick, meanwhile, is still working toward his degree at a nearby college.

“I thought he would be jealous, but instead, he’s excited for me,” Frankfort said.

The MAT program at Randolph was a worthwhile challenge for Frankfort. “It’s a one-year program, but you really earn that degree because you work hard,” she said. “It was affordable for someone my age who is going back to school. It has worked out. I can’t say enough about Randolph.”

The College launched its MAT program about six years ago, and the degree is designed for those who already have an education background or who want to change careers.

Frankfort realized teaching was her passion when it was too late to change her major as an undergraduate student.

“I knew that I wanted to teach, but I didn’t have the money to go back to school,” she said.

She met her husband in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where they both worked for SkyWest Airlines. They moved to Lynchburg, her husband’s hometown, to restart their careers in 2010.

Frankfort enrolled in Randolph’s MAT program expecting to start her job search after graduation. But a few weeks into her student teaching work, a teacher encouraged her to apply for an opening at Perrymont Elementary School.

An hour after her interview for the special education position, Frankfort found herself employed as a full-time teacher for Lynchburg City Schools.

“That is not uncommon for our students,” said Peggy Schimmoeller, a Randolph education professor who oversees the MAT program. Most MAT students secure a teaching contract by the time they graduate, she added.

Karen Nelson, principal of Perrymont Elementary, said hiring for a teacher in mid-year can be difficult, but Frankfort was the perfect fit, thanks in part to her coursework at Randolph. “The College stepped in and provided that level of support for her and worked with us so we could hire the best person for the job,” Nelson said.

Frankfort’s new job has been everything she imagined. “I find it so fulfilling and rewarding,” she said. “I love that feeling.”