Missouri State University
Lara Strong

Lara Strong

  • Teacher, West Plains High School
  • West Plains, Mo.
  • BSEd, Elementary Education

Degree influences how West Plains educator teaches her students

There's no place like (your second) home.

West Plains High School teacher Lara Strong feels a deep connection to her community.

"I came from China 13 years ago, and I have been living in West Plains ever since...West Plains is my second hometown."

Strong is a proud Zizzer, and a foreign language teacher at West Plains High School. She teaches online Spanish, German, French and Chinese classes.   

When she started at the school district, she was an interpreter.

Being an interpreter put her in classrooms, observing teachers every day. She decided to become a teacher.    

"Just to see how they work with the students and how the kids thrive is an amazing thing," Strong said. "One thing in common among all the teachers is that they care about their students."     

Deciding to be an educator  

Lara Strong standing on stairwell.

"The experiences on taking the online classes at college make me understand my students better."  

It turns out Strong's second hometown had a lot to offer, education-wise.

Lara continued her education through online and evening classes.

She earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from MSU Outreach on the West Plains campus, while working for the school district.

"The most memorable classes are the ones that Dr. Jane Ward taught, such as RDG 420," Strong said. "I enjoyed her classes at that time...I am using the skills I had learned in her classes in my daily teaching."    

Dr. Ward's classes taught Strong more than how to teach.

Strong learned the importance of caring for students. Dr. Ward modeled how to care for students in the way she took care of her students. 

"She helped us on our schedules, scholarships, tips on how to find a job or even keep a job," Strong said. 

Online education influences teaching

Lara Strong teaching students during a class.

Strong uses online and offline learning to give her students culture and language skills. Her classroom is in a computer lab.   

"The students who are taking online course have to be self-motivated, no matter if they are in high school level or in college," Strong said. 

In one class period, students might be studying one of four languages.

Strong offers classes in Spanish, German, French and Chinese. Using online services, the students learn the language independently.

Strong's students experience the same benefits of online instruction that college students appreciate. Her students can work at their own pace with individualized instruction.    

Strong facilitates the learning, especially when it comes to studying the culture. She brings in guest speakers and plans lessons to teach about each of the four cultures.