Sydney Meade, a fifth and sixth grade language arts teacher for an elementary school in Kentucky.

Alumni Spotlight: Sydney Meade, M.A. in Education

Sydney Meade graduated from Georgetown College with an M.A. in Education and currently works as a fifth and sixth grade language arts teacher for an elementary school in Kentucky. We asked Sydney to share with us her inspiration for getting into education and her journey pursuing her master’s degree in education at Georgetown College. Here what she had to say below.

Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?  

As a student in elementary and middle school, I was never very confident in my ability to make friends with my peers. I was always more comforted by my relationships with my teachers, who I saw as protectors and facilitators of knowledge. I was always very eager to learn, and there were many teachers who made positive impacts in my life. I still remember all of my teachers’ names, but I especially remember those who made a difference to me.

Since then, I have always been interested in becoming an educator. I enjoy every aspect of it — from the color-coded organizational bliss that is creating and maintaining my own classroom, to the happiness that comes from having a student understand new material. I have had other jobs and did not enjoy them even a fraction as much as I enjoy being a teacher. I feel as if I am truly making a difference and spending my time in a worthwhile way when I am with my students. It means so much to me that I have the opportunity to protect and comfort and enrich the lives of my students the way my own teachers did for me.

Why did you choose Georgetown College for your M.A. degree in education?

I chose Georgetown College for many reasons. I grew up in the Georgetown area and always saw myself attending Georgetown College for my undergraduate education. Instead, I earned my undergraduate degrees elsewhere. When I had graduated with my bachelor’s degree in education studies and English, I knew that my top priority was getting into the classroom as a teacher. I expressed this to a friend, who then suggested that I look into the Alternative Certification program at Georgetown College.

I was so pleased to discover all the graduate programs that Georgetown had to offer, including the option to take my classes online. By offering online classes, Georgetown College allowed me to still work while getting my master’s degree. From my first semester in the program, I held a position as a classroom teacher. Being able to connect my learning in my own classroom to what I was learning through my graduate classes was invaluable for me.

What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Georgetown College, and how do you use them today?

As with many young educators, I grew up using technology. I believe that students in this day and age are more technologically-minded than any before them. It has always been a part of my educational philosophy to use technology in the classroom as much as possible. My instructors at Georgetown College had a similar mindset, and as a result I was able to learn how to use technology in my classroom in new ways that I would have never previously considered.

Beyond the usual use of the SMARTboard and projector for lecture support in the classroom, I was introduced to strategies that allowed students to use technology to assist each other in composing and revising their writing. As a result of my education on technology during my time at Georgetown, I am able to run a classroom that is far more “paperless” and engaging than I would have had the knowledge and resources to do otherwise.

How has your master’s degree impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?

Because I did not pursue teaching certification in my undergraduate program, I needed to receive my M.A. in education alongside initial certification from Georgetown College to be able to hold a certified teaching position. By obtaining my master’s degree through Georgetown, I am now fully certified to teach Middle Grades ELA classes. I have also been moved from Rank III to Rank II, which brings me one step closer to my goal of having Rank I certification.

Holding my master’s degree as a classroom teacher means that I am up to the standard of a highly qualified educator and can use my attained knowledge to benefit my students and colleagues. Because I pursued the Alternative Certification route, I have a different perspective from some of my peers, and I use that to the advantage of my teaching team.

What was a challenge you faced during your education program, and who or what helped you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I encountered during my time in the education program was learning how to balance my duties as a teacher and coach with my duties as a graduate student. I admittedly let my priorities become a bit skewed while my stress levels soared, and this resulted in periods of time where I would feel overwhelmed by deadlines and assignments.

My advisor, Dr. Jane Arrington, was a godsend during this time. She consistently gave me great advice and strategies to maintain balance in my professional and educational life. Without her support, I can freely say that I may not have made it through my first year in the program. This is the difference, in my opinion, between Georgetown College and other similar programs: the relationships between student and teacher. Dr. Arrington’s example of how to be a firm but compassionate support for students who are struggling is one that I aspire to mimic in my interactions with my own students.

What was the biggest takeaway from your master’s education program?

My biggest takeaway from my time in the master’s education program was the importance of creating a professional learning community and contributing positively to it. Having a cohort of fellow students at Georgetown allowed me to have a wealth of knowledge and strategies for teaching that I otherwise might never have known/been able to implement. Recreating this environment with my colleagues at school has allowed us to grow closer and enhance our lessons to maximize student success. As educators, it is important that we work across content divides to provide consistent, rigorous learning opportunities for our students.

What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the M.A. education degree program at Georgetown College?

I would encourage anyone who is considering getting their M.A in Education to do so through Georgetown College. I have many friends who have pursued their M.A. in Education through other institutions. Based on their experiences, I am glad that I chose Georgetown College. Georgetown’s course load is rigorous without being inaccessible, and the instructors in the graduate program are compassionate, kind, and knowledgeable about the subjects they teach. There were many points during my enrollment at Georgetown that I needed extra support from my advisor and professors. In these instances, I was always met with unsurpassed understanding and empathy.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Because of today’s social climate, many young people second guess their passion for education and are discouraged from pursuing a career as a teacher. I understand that there are many reasons not to go into education, but I also urge those who are passionate about education to ignore those negatives in favor of considering the positives. Students deserve to have teachers who are passionate about improving their lives through consistent, positive reinforcement and the impartment of knowledge.