Janice Motta, SPED teacher at a school in Missouri.

Alumni Spotlight: Janice Motta, M.Ed. in Educational Technology for Teachers

Janice Motta graduated from Park University with an M.Ed. in Educational Technology for Teachers and currently works as a secondary SPED teacher at a school in Missouri. With more than 10 years in special education, Janice knows the importance of high-quality, specialized curriculum and how technology can support it. We asked Janice to share with us her experience pursuing her educational technology degree at Park University.

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

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. Growing up, I was a quintessential nerd; a rule-following, bookworm who thoroughly enjoyed going to school and learning as much as I could. This love of learning led to a love of education that I realized I could turn into a career. I discovered I could show my eventual students that they too can enjoy gaining knowledge, set and achieve goals for themselves, and be proud of their learning.

Why did you choose Park University for your master’s degree in educational technology for teachers?

I set upon my goal of becoming a teacher by going to college after first serving in the US Army to help me afford the undergraduate degree I would need. Earning my undergraduate degree was a step in the right direction, but I always planned on earning a master’s degree to continue my schooling and be the best educator I could be.

Things do not always go the way we plan, however, and shortly after graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I became busy with my first teaching job and taking care of my twin daughters. I underwent job changes, moving schools and subjects, eventually landing my current position working with behavior disorder and special needs students; but I never forgot my plan of earning my master’s degree. I just didn’t think it would take me thirty years to find the time and confidence to go back to school.

I started researching online graduate programs and Park University’s M.Ed. in educational technology for teachers was the perfect fit for my needs; earning a degree in a timely fashion, course requirements that fit into my schedule and educational track, and online classes so that I could work at my convenience while still keeping my current position and schedule.

What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Park University and how do you use them today?

Through the Park University M.Ed. in educational technology for teachers I learned many skills that I would not have gained otherwise. Had you asked my daughters before earning this degree how competent I was at utilizing technology, they would have laughed out loud. I used to have to call them frequently to help me use online tools and other technologies; but I was desperate to learn more about these tools and how to better meld them into my classroom and teaching style.

The educational technology for teachers program was perfect for me, because I now know how to use many different technologies and tools to enhance my students’ education, connectedness, and my data collection. I was taught to think critically about the pros and cons of how technology is integrated into the educational system and our students’ daily lives, how technology effects our lives and learning, and was given the skills for using such tools and critical thinking in my own educational position.

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?

My master’s degree has impacted my current position by making me notable as a standout among my peers. Some of my fellow teachers, higher-ups, and other faculty members look up to me for guidance and suggestions. Since gaining this degree, I won the Master Teacher Award at the Midwest Symposium for Behavior Disorders 2018. Following this award I was selected to be a presenter at the 2019 MSLBD Awards and will be presenting again at the 2020 awards.

What was a challenge you faced during your educational technology for teachers program, and who or what helped you overcome it?

A challenge I faced while in this program was the stress of juggling my full-time job and going to school. The stress was lessened because of the program being fully online. However, after not being in a college class for so many years, graduate school assignments were a bit overwhelming at first. I overcame this stress with the help of my daughters, who have no problem telling me when I need to calm down and take a breath. They kept reminding me that I have been looking forward to this for 30 years, that if I made it through the Army and childbirth of twins, I am fully capable of completing this program. Plus, they were always there to remind me that when deep breaths and positive thinking don’t cut it, a glass of wine after homework was waiting for me!

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

The biggest takeaway from my master’s program was that no matter how long you put something off, how long you’ve been out of school, or how busy you are, you can still achieve your goals. It sounds cliché, but it is true; if you have the right attitude you can accomplish anything. Park University’s online program made pursuing my master’s an especially smooth transition back into school and helped me gain confidence in my teaching and learning skills.

What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the M.Ed. educational technology for teachers program at Park University?

For any prospective students considering the educational technology for teachers M.Ed. program at Park University, I would say: if I can do it, so can you! This program helped my career, teaching style and effectiveness, time management and problem solving skills, and made me an all-around better educator. The ease of the online classes allows for a much less stressful transition into graduate school and allows for no work schedule changes, all while still gaining an extremely educational and useful program that I would not have had access to had it not been fully online.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Now that I have achieved this lifelong goal of earning my master’s degree that has bolstered my career, I can celebrate, not with a stress-reducing glass of post-homework wine, but with a meaningful, well-earned glass of champagne. Cheers to all other prospective students who follow this same path to achieve their dreams!