After a successful phone interview, twenty-one-year-old Karen Houser packed her things and moved across the country from Massachusetts to rural, Utah to teach elementary school. She was homesick, cried some, and learned a lot. She also met her husband and fell in love with Utah and her teaching career.
Houser’s career almost took a very different path. She attended Catholic school from first grade through high school and had planned to become a nun. After filling out all the paperwork and getting ready to pursue that route, she discussed her options with her parents and did some soul-searching. It was then that she discovered her true dream was to become a teacher.
In Utah, Houser taught for Carbon and Granite School Districts for 16 years after earning a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education Degree at Fitchburg State College, Massachusetts. She later earned a Master in Education Degree at Utah State University and taught there as an adjunct professor. In 1992, she headed back to Carbon School District where she worked as the Gifted and Talented Coordinator for 10 years, then as Petersen Elementary Principal for five. She was hired to teach education courses at SUU in 2007.
Houser teaches the following classes:
- ECED 3920 Foundations in Early Childhood Education
- ECED 3950 Integrated Curriculum PreK-3
- EDRG 4120 Integrated Studies of Children’s Literature
Spending many years as a teacher and administrator, Houser is now busy preparing the world’s next generation of educators. It is a job that allows her to be creative and work cooperatively with other professors who are also committed to their work. She strives to teach by example by creating a fun and interactive learning environment, and hopes her students recognize how important their contributions will be to the growth and development of every child they teach.
“I loved school and have always wanted to be in the classroom,” she said. “Once I settled on early childhood education it felt like a natural fit. Now, I teach college students with young child in mind, and hope to share that love.”
Recently, Houser and her husband were eating breakfast at a local restaurant when a woman she didn’t recognize walked over and sat by her. The woman explained that her daughter had attended an early childhood presentation Houser gave a few years ago, which persuaded her to study early childhood education. After taking a few classes from Houser, she told her mother that she wanted to be ‘just like her’ when she became a teacher.
“I had no idea this young lady felt this way,” expressed Houser. “In that moment I realized that we never know how or when we might influence another person.”
Currently, Houser is volunteering on the SUU Child and Family Development Center Steering Committee to help plan for The Sorenson Legacy Foundation Child & Family Development Center. The center will hold the SUU Preschool, as well as a daycare center with flexible hours. It will provide convenient, affordable and safe aid for SUU parents. Her school administration background brings a new light to the committee and she is excited to continue working with and for the benefit of children.