Educator Snapshot: Karen BreazealeToday, for our next edition in the Educator Snapshot Series, we have a real treat! Karen Breazeale, one of our wonderful K-12 ELA Course Designers, is here to tell us a little bit more about herself.

Hello Karen!


Alright, let’s begin with the first question: What work have you done with the Saylor Foundation?

So far, I have developed the content for the Grade 10 ELA course. Currently, I am working on a version of that course that is tailored for educators.

K-12 ELA 10 is soon to be the fresh new course in our K-12 section. What keeps you busy when you’re not designing our courses?

I stay busy with my role as CEO of kiddo activities, transportation coordination, nutritional supervision, and hygiene maintenance in my home. Also, as the proud wife of a military superhero, I am a Key Spouse Mentor. That simply means that I do my best to make sure that the military spouses in our unit have all of their needs met during deployments or other high stress situations.

Wow, you’re busy! How did you first get involved in open and/or online education?

It was totally accidental! I was looking for an opportunity to work from home at my convenience so that the CEO gig mentioned above wouldn’t be compromised. I stumbled upon the Saylor opportunity as I was surfing the web for something to fit that description.

We’re glad that you found us! Has this work changed your professional practice or repertoire?

Before working with Saylor, I was aware that there was a wealth of information available online; however, I had no clue about all of the open education opportunities available! There is absolutely no excuse for anyone who wants to pursue an education not to pursue it–it’s all right at their fingertips! If I should ever decide to return to the classroom, or when one of my own children needs enrichment in a subject, I now know where to send them! And, as a former secondary English teacher, I was amazed–overwhelmed, really–with the plethora of lessons, study guides, games, etc. available to teach just about anything under the sun! Another enlightenment with my Saylor experience was learning the value of the Common Core Standards! While aligning the Grade 10 ELA course with the Common Core Standards, I got really close and personal with them, and I have become a great advocate of adopting the Standards nationwide. As both a teacher and a mother of children who make multiple interstate military moves, knowing that the schools in all fifty states are striving towards the same educational goals is invaluable.

We’re optimistic about the move towards common goals, too. Have you found that anything in your rich experience has helped in your work here?

I hope that my love of learning, and teaching others to love learning was a valuable asset in my work with Saylor. In addition, my experience as an English teacher aided me with choosing course content. After teaching a while, you learn the things that will “work” with students, and the things that probably won’t–especially if there isn’t a physical teacher around to prod them on! As I chose the content, I tried to be there with them and troubleshoot any problems that I anticipated.

From the course itself, we can assure you that you did an excellent job! From all that, is there any advice you would pass along to other teachers and online course designers?

Yikes! The word “advice” really scares me, but I would definitely encourage other teachers to check out all that open/online education has to offer! The possibilities for using open/online education both in and outside the classroom are limitless. After all of the sites I have seen with totally free access, even those I couldn’t link to in the course due to copyright, there is no excuse for teachers to ever have a bland, uninspiring lesson! If a student needs enrichment and/or remediation in a subject, or if a teacher wants to take a course for professional development or for personal reasons, it’s all there.

We’re glad that we could bring these resources to light for you — and hope to continue to do so for future generations to come! What do you truly enjoy about your work?

I believe the thing I most enjoy about my work, whether it’s being a wife and mom, teaching, or even working with the Saylor Foundation, is helping others to reach their potential. I guess that means I enjoy encouraging others, in the words of Lord Alfred Tennyson, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Thanks for bringing Tennyson into the conversation! In terms of seeking, what do you think about the future of K-12 education and less-formal learning?

I believe the future of K-12 education lies in teacher-directed use of technology. There will probably be less teaching to a class, and more individualized direction/teaching to individuals in the class. And maybe the class meets online more than in a classroom. Whatever shape it takes, I believe online learning is a huge part of future learning.

Any advice for our young student readers, the citizens of those future blended learning environments?

Spend time reading about things you enjoy! Also, use your imagination to picture characters and settings when you are reading…make a movie in your mind! Sometimes, in school, you have to read things you would rather not read. Usually, you learn something when you read those things, but you might not enjoy the reading. Don’t let the times when you have to read scar your ability to ENJOY reading!

And last but not least, what advice would you have for graduates and parents of students?

To the graduate: Never let a day go by without learning something! Graduation merely marks the beginning of new opportunities to learn.

To the parents: Never let a day go by without learning something! Show your children how to love learning and you won’t be able to stop them.