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St. Bonaventure University

Mother of seven, substitute teacher and full-time student discusses non-traditional education at Bona’s

Nov 18, 2020 |

With seven children, a husband, a job, and a full-time class load, LaDonna Freundschuh, a senior childhood education major at St. Bonaventure University, packs a lot into every day. Pictured_LaDonna_Freundschuh

Her children range from 7-year-old-twin boys to 19 years old. 

“Just trying to find the time for me is difficult,” Freundschuh said. “But I’m doing what I love.”

Freundschuh, 40, of Great Valley, is part of the JCC+SBU Plus program, a partnership between Jamestown Community College and St. Bonaventure University. As a JCC+SBU student, she first earned an associate degree at JCC and is now completing a bachelor’s degree at Bona’s.

She credits her success in life and the ability to juggle so many responsibilities to “my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is so good to me and has given me all I need, including placing people in my life to help with the journey.”

First among them is her husband, Pastor Joshua Freundschuh, who serves at the Humphrey Baptist Church. “He has supported and encouraged me since I began this journey,” she said. 

Two others of note are St. Bonaventure School of Education professors Dr. Kathryn Andrews and Dr. Pamina Abkowitz.

“Dr. Andrews and Dr. Abkowitz are masters at practical teaching techniques,” Freundschuh said. “A lot of education is theory and they’re good at applying them. They are literally cheerleaders for their students. When class is done, you want to stick around and talk to them because they are so positive to be around.”

Teaching can be very abstract, Freundschuh explained. While she has taken a number of introduction to teaching courses through the years, the upper-level work she has done at Bona’s has enabled her to create a framework of knowledge. More than that, Freundschuh praised her time at St. Bonaventure as a whole.

“My experience has been amazing,” Freundschuh said. “One of the reasons I chose Bonaventure was because every time I saw an education major, they were always so confident and competent in the classroom. I have the tools I need to do it.”

Pictured_LaDonna Freundschuh and familyShe said she also felt a different connection with the professors than other, younger students in the classroom. 

“I think we understand each other,” Freundschuh added. 

Dr. Abkowitz, professor of childhood education, responded to Freunsdschuh’s praise.

“I have tried to make learning meaningful to my students and to create an environment that is safe,” she said. “To have a student like LaDonna recognize that is rewarding.”

Additionally, she noted Freundschuh’s many talents.

“She is thoughtful, persistent, and asks pertinent questions,” Abkowitz said. “She connects so well to the children in her classroom and is energetic, enthusiastic, and genuinely interested in seeing her students succeed."

Freundschuh aims to earn a master’s degree in English and, one day, to become a novelist as well as teach and raise her children. 

For now, she works full-time as a remote elementary substitute teacher for her children’s school district — due to the flexibility of Bona’s online schedule — where she teaches fourth- and sixth-grade students who opted not to go back to in-person classes. 

Freundschuh said her schedule is relentless but she feels fulfilled with her lifestyle.

“It’s like I’m always going so much and so hard that I’m missing what’s happening,” Freundschuh said. “But it’s also very fulfilling. With the amount of people I get to work with, the size of my family and the students’ lives I get to touch, it makes it worthwhile.”


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About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2020, St. Bonaventure was named the #2 regional university value in New York and #3 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.