Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY

Alumni Spotlight: Erin Ball, M.A.Ed. in Teacher Leader with Gifted Education Endorsement

Erin graduate from Georgetown College with an M.A.Ed. in Teacher Leader with Gifted Education Endorsement and currently works as an eighth-grade language arts and social studies teacher for a middle school in Kentucky. Hear what she had to say about her time at Georgetown pursuing her master’s degree.

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

I come from a long line of teachers. Both of my great grandmothers taught in a one-room schoolhouse, children from first through eighth grade in Mason County. My great aunt taught elementary school for 31 years, and my grandmother taught Sunday school for over 20 years. My mother was a public school teacher and taught middle school math for 31 years.

In addition to my family, a lifelong love of reading and learning cultivated early in life by several impactful teachers influenced me to become a teacher. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Crabtree, introduced me to a whole new world through books. Early on, she noted that I had an interest in reading and she encouraged that interest in every way possible. I blossomed as a reader because of Mrs. Crabtree.

Inspired by Mrs. Crabtree’s influence in my life, I endeavor to instill and foster a love of reading in my eighth-graders. My favorite way to connect with my students is by connecting them to books they will love.

Why did you choose Georgetown College for your teacher leader degree?

I had an incredible undergraduate experience at Georgetown College, and I particularly enjoyed the Education Department. The professors in the Education Department are passionate, committed, and approachable. I got to know many of my education professors on a personal level, and they were wonderful mentors to me throughout my teacher preparation program and beyond. The master’s program was entirely online, affordable, and manageable with a full-time teaching job. Several colleagues recommended the program to me as well. For all these reasons, Georgetown College was my top choice for my teacher leader degree.

What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Georgetown College and how do you use them today? How have they helped you during the move to online learning?

I gained essential skills to be a culturally responsive teacher through my program at Georgetown College. We received valuable implicit bias training as well as strategies for creating inclusive and multicultural curriculum. With online learning, this has been helpful for creating meaningful learning experiences for students that celebrate diversity and consider multiple perspectives. For example, in social studies right now we are learning about colonial America through the perspective of Native Americans and looking at primary documents to analyze Thanksgiving from their point of view.

How has your teacher leader degree impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future? Has that changed with the move to online learning?

My degree has helped me gain several leadership opportunities including positions as team leader, department chair, member of SBDM, a cooperative teacher for Georgetown College students, a mentor teacher for first-year teachers, and a member of Scott County’s Teacher Effective Leadership Network. This year it has also given me the opportunity to participate in a book study over The Distance Learning Playbook by Douglas Fisher. With the change to online learning, this has been a beneficial guide for teaching and engaging students virtually.

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

As a part of my teacher leader program, I completed an action research project for my Capstone. This was a challenge for me as I had never completed a project of this nature and it is a multi-step process that requires data analysis. The collaboration with my peers in my cohort helped me to overcome the challenges of the research project. I was able to glean ideas from my peers on how to efficiently and organically gather data from my classroom for my Capstone.

The online program allows ample opportunities for master’s students to share knowledge, collaborate, and interact with peers.

What was the biggest takeaway from your teacher leader program?

The teacher leader program equipped me to pursue leadership opportunities within my classroom, school, and district. I developed the knowledge and skills to be an effective educator and an effective leader in my building through learning how to provide professional growth opportunities to my colleagues. I also gained the necessary skills to mentor aspiring and new educators in classroom management and curriculum development.

What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the M.A.Ed. Teacher Leader with Gifted Education endorsement program at Georgetown College?

I would advise prospective students to take advantage of the cohort community and collaborate with their peers throughout the program. I would highly recommend the M.A.Ed. Teacher Leader with the Gifted Education endorsement program to anyone wanting to grow as a leader in a hands-on learning environment. The skills gained will grow you as an effective teacher in your classroom and as a leader both in your building and district.