An expert in persuasion, much of the work of Valerie L. Schneider, PhD, was always related primarily to teaching or learning. She chose communication as her teaching field because it conveys concepts and skills crucial to success in most professions and relational situations. She began her professional career as the director of forensics and drama and a teacher of English and history at Montello High School in Wisconsin in 1963, remaining in these roles for a year before joining the University of Florida in Gainesville as a speech instructor from 1966 to 1968 and assistant professor of speech from 1969 to 1970. Dr. Schneider then transferred to Edinboro University in Pennsylvania from 1970 to 1971, and served East Tennessee State University in Johnson City as an associate professor from 1971 to 1976 and professor from 1976 to 1997.
In addition to this tenure, Dr. Schneider instructed a newspaper course in the Johnson City Press Chronicle in 1979, as well as the Elizabethton Star, the Erwin Record, the Mountain City Tomahawk, and Jonesboro Herald and Tribune in 1980. From 1991 to 1992, she served on the investor panel of USA Today. Dr. Schneider also developed a one-week intensive weekend course on business and professional speech, and taught at the Kingsport Extension Center.
Prior to the start of her professional career, Dr. Schneider pursued a formal education at Carroll College, now known as Carroll University, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English and history with a minor in secondary education in 1963. She then matriculated at the University of Wisconsin, where she attained a Master of Arts in speech communication in 1966. She went on to receive a PhD in speech communication with a minor in sociology from the University of Florida in 1969. Later, Dr. Schneider received a certificate of advanced study in developmental education from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, in 1981.
Active in her local community, Dr. Schneider chaired the mass media study group committee of the American Association of University Women from 1973 to 1974 and was an adult bible teacher at the First Presbyterian Church of Johnson City for two decades. Since 1997, she has also participated in 25 self-funded mission trips, through which she funded 48,000 Chinese bibles and other teaching media, and her most recent trip took her to Serbia to work with the Protestant Evangelical Church, which has a good ministry with the homeless in the area and a special program for heroin addicts and alcoholics, as well as an outreach on the board for Middle Eastern refugees and a hospice for cancer patients. Dr. Schneider has further been an adult bible teacher at Zion Covenant Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, since 2009.
A prolific writer, Dr. Schneider was an associate editor for Homiletic from 1974 to 1976 and editor for the East Tennessee State University evening and off-campus newsletter from 1984 to 1991. She was also a columnist for “Video Visions” of the Kingsport Times-News from 1984 to 1986 and a book reviewer for the Pulpit Digest from 1986 to 1990, as well as a contributor of myriad articles to professional journals.
Outside of her primary trade, Dr. Schneider served on the chapter executive board of the Business and Professional Women’s Club from 1972 and 1973, later serving as vice president, and was vice president of her local chapter of the American Association of University Women from 1974 to 1975, serving as president the following year. She served in 1977 through 1978 as president of the Tennessee Speech Communication Association, the first woman to do so. From 1981 to 1982, she was president of the Tennessee Basic Skills Council. More recently, Dr. Schneider was president of the Johnson City Book Club from 2001 to 2003 and has been active with the World Missions Alliance since 1999, among many others.
Dr. Schneider was awarded a Creative Writing Award by the Virginia Highlands Arts Festival in 1973 and the Best Article Award by the Religious Speech Communication Association in 1976. Named a Danforth associate in 1977 and recognized as Best Debate Judge at the University of Richmond Tournament in 1982, she was honored by the Tri-Cities Metropolitan Advertising Federation from 1983 to 1984 and the Kingsport Times News from 1984 to 1985. A finalist of the Money Magazine contest in 1994 and Writer’s Digest contest in 2000, she was recognized as an honorary life member of the Tennessee Presbyterian Women and received an honorable mention for her essay on Abraham Lincoln in C-SPAN’s “American President’s Life Portraits” national contest in 2000. Furthermore, Dr. Schneider was included in the first edition of Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America, the third edition of Who’s Who in American Education and several other Who’s Who publications.
Dr. Schneider’s skills in money management and investing enabled her to retire from academia at age 56. She was then able to continue her educational services work with adult bible teaching, programming and writing projects in the local church. The times when Dr. Schneider has encountered a former student who tells her that a college course she had taught was most helpful to them, or that one of her courses had helped them in graduate or professional school, a profession or relationships, is incredibly rewarding.