Northwestern Student Teacher Comes Full Circle in Education Journey

February 13, 2023

Toni Schram (left) with Chris Smith (right)
Toni Schram (left), Northwestern Oklahoma State University senior early childhood education major, comes full circle in her education journey as a student teacher at Fowler Early Childhood Center in Enid near the university’s Enid campus, where Chris Smith (right) is the principal. 

Upon taking the advice of Chris Smith, principal at Fowler Early Childhood Center in Enid near the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Enid campus, Toni Schram is about to come full circle in her journey to become a certified teacher of young children.

The Enid senior early childhood education major’s story begins at the Learning Tree Preschool in Enid where she worked with 1- and 2-year-olds. She then helped start the Lighthouse Preschool where she helped create a curriculum and teach 2-, 3- and 4-year-old children.

Upon the closing of this school, she moved into the Enid Public School system. In 2014 she became a Teacher’s Aid working in one of the pre-k classrooms at Carver Preschool under Smith, who also serves as the EPS early childhood director.

This is when Schram decided to go back to school and work toward getting her teaching certification. She said she was not happy with being just a TA and needed to have her own classroom.

Smith, who said she can remember advising Schram to go back to school to be a teacher, has been very supportive of Schram’s decision and continues to encourage her.

“It was my privilege to hire Toni Schram as a 4-year-old TA at Carver Early Childhood Center the very first year it opened,” Smith said. “In her interview, it was evident that Toni had a ‘heart for the children.’ As she began working in the classroom she demonstrated her ability to build relationships and make personal connections with all the children, which is an extremely important teaching quality.

“She had a spirit of enthusiasm in the classroom and was able to collaborate with and support her Carver colleagues. During that year I often encouraged her to think about pursuing a teaching career.”

Nine years later Schram is doing her student teaching at Fowler Early Childhood Center where Smith continues to be a mentor.

“We are back together again!” Smith said. “I believe she has made the perfect career choice for her talents and abilities. It is a choice that will benefit children for many years to come!”

Schram said it has been a long journey to get to this point in her teaching career.

“I have worked extremely hard to get to this point, and to be able to student teach in a pre-k classroom is a dream come true,” Schram said. “The pre-k classroom has always had my heart. They are amazing little people, and each time that I am in the classroom I am reminded of that. To be able to student teach in a classroom that is in the same school district that I had worked in for nine years makes my journey come full circle."

For more information on Northwestern’s teaching programs visit or contact Dr. Jennifer Oswald, Division of Education chair and associate professor of education, at (580) 327-8451 or


Erin Davis, University Relations Specialist 580-327-8480

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Phone: (580) 327-1700

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