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In August of 2013, after working as the Accounts Payable Bookkeeper for All Steel Construction, Inc. for the past 9 years, a reduction in the company’s workforce resulted in Rebecca Ragsdale finding herself without a job. Rebecca had always dreamed of becoming a teacher and had some college hours, but as the 2nd wage earner in a family of 4 and as a women already in her early 30s, was it too late to return to school and finish her degree? While in the Benton Workforce Center on Unemployment matters during April 2014 Rebecca met Orlando Freeman, a WIOA Career Consultant. Rebecca explained she was attending Henderson State University (HSU) in the field of Early Childhood Education and didn’t want to have a huge amount of school debt when she completed her degree.

Rebecca and WIOA could be a great match. Rebecca graduated Cum Laude from HSU with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree May 8, 2015. During early July, a position for a 3rd grade teacher was posted on the Bauxite School District’s website. Since Rebecca had done her teaching internship at Pine Haven Elementary in Bauxite, Pine Haven was definitely the place she knew she wanted to be. Rebecca immediately applied for the job opening, was interviewed 2 weeks later and was hired the following week. She had gotten to know the faculty during the time she interned at Pine Haven and knew they were familiar with her personality, her teaching style, and how she felt about teaching being her lifelong dream as well as her life calling.

When asked what she thought would make her a successful and valuable employee, her answer was, “I believe my passion for educating students, my determination to teach students how to successfully work with others in harmony, and the love for increasing my own knowledge will make me a successful and valuable employee to Pine Haven Elementary.” Just for fun, when Rebecca was asked what she would do if she won the Mega Millions Lottery she answered, “I would hire personal secretaries for all teachers at Pine Haven Elementary, pay off all of mine and my family’s debt, and continue working as a teacher.” When asked if she had a bucket list of things she would like to do Rebecca replied, “I would like to own a house on the ocean and travel to Ireland.” When asked who she would like to invite to a fantasy dinner she said, “Beth Moore, David Crowder, and Chip and Joanna Gaines.” And, when asked what she enjoys doing when she isn’t working, her smile said it all, “I enjoy spending time with my husband outdoors, going shopping with my 11 year-old daughter, watching my 7 year-old son play baseball, and going to Razorback football games.”

In response to a question having to do with sharing something about herself for this success story Rebecca said, “I never imagined I would be able to return to college, obtain a degree, and fulfill my dream of being a teacher. I thought I was too old and settled in life. I have learned it is never too late to live out one’s calling. Everything I have experienced in my past has contributed to the teacher I am today. I am so grateful to WIOA for being a big part in making that happen. I would also like to thank my family and friends for supporting me on this challenging journey”. Now it’s Rebecca with her kind, loving spirit, her care and concern for others, and her passion for educating students to be lifelong learners who is serving as an example and an inspiration, not only to her own two children, but to countless children fortunate enough to have Mrs. Ragsdale as their 3rd grade teacher. We are certain they will be blessed with much, much more than just their 3rd grade book-work and will come to understand Rebecca’s formula: Hard Work, Commitment, and Sacrifice = SUCCESS.

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