Growing older, I seem stuck in a place where life is less flexible, but the need for flexibility is increasing. In 2016, my life took unexpected turns and I found myself living at home working as a bartender. I craved more than this for myself and desperately wanted to use my degree in science. A quick google search and I eventually found myself applying for Georgetown College’s master’s program to become a teacher using the alternative route for certification.
Soon after, I was accepting a full-time job offer in my district and pursuing a master’s full-time. At the time, I was unmarried, without children, and my priority was the program. By December, I was married, pregnant with my first child, and completely unprepared for the amount of energy motherhood required. I am eternally grateful for the flexibility of Georgetown College’s programs.
Taking on the role of a student came naturally as I had over 16 years of extensive practice, but it became increasingly difficult as a wife and mother to balance a job and master’s program. Trying to balance with something resembling grace was impossible, but having adequate time to work on assignments made the program manageable.
Each class was designed similarly and there was consistency from class to class. Each class included weekly discussions and one to two larger assignments. Due dates were flexible which became a saving grace once I gave birth. The program was challenging, but I never felt like I was going to fail due to having a personal life.
Those weekly discussion posts allowed me to talk to like-minded people who also became my support group both inside and outside of the program. I knew that I could call my peers or professors if I was struggling with anything from school work to mental health. Many of my peers were in the same situation as me: young, with children, starting with this brand new program with the hopes of furthering our professions.
Engaged and Available Professors
When I attended the graduation ceremony, I remember gazing into the crowd and recognizing many of the faces. When attending virtual classes, it is difficult to build relationships with students; this is something I have learned during this pandemic as the district that employs me is still using non-traditional instruction. The fact that I recognized my professors and they recognized me was an incredible feeling.
The professor during my last class at Georgetown College was unforgettable. The amount of time I spent interacting with her was more than any other teacher in my life. She was my mentor for my final project and helped me every step of the way. The project took an entire semester, and I had the opportunity to collaborate with both professors and other students. When I submitted my final project, I knew it was the absolute best that I was capable of.
Throughout the semester, my professor and I were in constant contact. On several occasions, she drove to Louisville or sent her colleagues to observe my teaching practices and give constructive feedback. The program forces a certain level of vulnerability, and I am sure that encourages relationship building between students and professors, but I feel each professor I learned from cared about my success. The observers told me every fault when I taught so that I could grow. I had to get into the nitty-gritty and have those real conversations with my professors and with my advisors. I never felt like I was bothering them with questions, even though I had many.
Room for Forgiveness, but Expecting Greatness
During my maternity leave, flexibility once more was life-saving. I struggled to find time to complete work, homework, and be a mom. During my second year, I received an email from my advisor saying that I scored low in a few crucial categories during an assessment and needed to schedule a meeting with her to discuss intervention steps.
Dreading this meeting, I dropped my daughter off at my mother’s house and made the drive because I preferred to meet in person. I remember anxiously entering my advisor’s office and was immediately caught off guard when my advisor explained the purpose of the meeting. I was not in trouble, but rather she wanted to check-in and make sure I was okay. It meant the world to me that instead of handing out consequences, my advisor showed a tremendous amount of empathy. It motivated me to work harder and become successful.
When I look back at my years in the program, I am grateful to have made it through considering how much I had to adapt in my personal life. I would never trade those years or relationships for anything. The program helped mold me into the teacher I am today, and because of the program and staff, I feel like I am able to successfully teach my students and make a difference.
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