During Maria Schultz’s senior year at Ball State University, she traveled to Ramstein, Germany. Not for Spring Break or any other vacation. But to complete her student teaching experience at Ramstein Air Force Base.

Why Ramstein?

Maria Schultz stands outside the DoDEA school in Ramstein, Germany, where she completed her student teaching.

That had to do with Ball State Teachers College’s long-standing relationship with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). DoDEA provides pre-K-12 education for children of active-duty military and Department of Defense civilian families worldwide. 

Since 2003, Ball State Teachers College has worked with DoDEA to send students to complete their student teaching requirements at U.S. military bases in Europe and the United States.

But that was just the beginning of Maria’s career with DoDEA. After she graduated in 2019 with her Bachelor’s in Education—

Why DoDEA?

Maria began teaching kindergarten at Fort Novosel in Alabama after graduation. Since then, she’s returned to Germany and currently teaches third grade at the Hainerberg base in Wiesbaden. 

“I have a passion for serving military-connected students and families. I love how the military community is intentional about investing time and resources into the education of each child for their success,” says Maria.  

“[My student teaching experience] opened my eyes to the amount of resources and support DoDEA teachers and children have from the Department of Defense. Every student is well provided for in every aspect, not just in their academics but also their social and emotional learning.” 

She can picture herself serving DoDEA for the foreseeable future and hopes to one day become an assistant principal and then a principal for DoDEA. This is why earning her Master’s in Educational Administration and Supervision with principal’s license online through Ball State University is critical to her career ambitions.  

Ball State Joins the Federal Academic Alliance

Ball State Teachers College joined the Federal Academic Alliance in 2022. The relationship offers federal government employees and their immediate families and federal government retirees worldwide in-state tuition rates for all online graduate-level Teacher College courses.

As a teacher for DoDEA, Maria is considered a Department of Defense federal employee. Thinking she’d need to pause her education at various times to prevent taking out student loans, the news of Ball State’s newfound relationship with the Federal Academic Alliance came at the perfect time.

“I heard about Ball State collaborating with the Federal Academic Alliance a few days before Christmas, which, to me, was an incredible gift. The relationship and reduced tuition has really changed [the timing] of my career ambitions because I’m able to go through my master’s consecutively without having to take breaks to save money [for tuition],” says Maria.

An Online Student Abroad

When considering her options for school, there was no doubt that Maria needed an online option. Though she considered other less-expensive universities, she kept coming back to Ball State. Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal.

“I’m a big fan of Ball State’s education…the education is top tier. I’ve learned so much and have had real-world experiences … even though [my courses] are online, I can go out and do some of the practicums in my school and have those authentic experiences,” says Maria.

Photo of Wiesbaden Elementary School, a DoDEA school where Maria Schultz teaches.

Another major factor in Maria’s choice was the flexibility of the Master’s in Educational Administration and Supervision, her professors, and Student Success Specialist.

“Being an online student is challenging but rewarding,” says Maria. “I am beyond thankful for the online option because I have a six-hour time difference. I can watch recorded lectures on my time and set up appointments with faculty and my Student Success Specialist that work for my schedule.”

As for collaborating with classmates, the six-hour time difference isn’t a problem at all because almost everyone in the program is a full-time professional and is very intentional about their time and assignments. They have a range of communication tactics to keep in touch and on schedule with each other.

“With [my classmates], I communicate and collaborate with them weekly through Canvas discussion boards, giving them feedback on projects, by reaching out just to have a buddy to work with and bounce ideas off of … we meet on Zoom to complete projects together, so it’s nice to be able to meet even though we’re in all different places in the world,” says Maria.

Planning for the Future

Maria will graduate with her master’s degree in May 2024. Afterward, she plans to apply for an assistant principal position within DoDEA in Europe or Asia, with the ultimate goal of becoming a DoDEA superintendent one day. However, her education won’t end with her master’s degree.

“Honestly, I want to keep going with Ball State’s education. I want to be a lifelong learner, and get my EdS and, eventually, my PhD through Ball State. My professors are already setting us up for success if we want to take that route. They are always thinking of our future goals with us and truly care about us,” says Maria.