1. What is one sentence you would use to describe who you are and what you do?
I carry solutions into the world of academic challenges.
2. Did you take the GRE? If so, what was your experience studying for the GRE like?
I had considered taking it but decided not to. Oddly enough, I took the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) years before I decided to even apply to grad school. It did not end up being something my grad school needed. I am grateful for that. Even though I have tutored in test prep for over a decade, I still hate taking standardized tests. I do not believe they paint a full picture of what a person is truly capable of doing. My SAT tests maybe said I would be average. Had I taken the GRE I suppose it would say the same. I would like to think I am more than average. My grades certainly proved that to be true.
3. Why did you decide to go to grad school? What program did you attend? How did you choose your specific program?
A master’s degree was always something schools in Massachusetts wanted teachers to obtain within ten years’ time. Moving to Virginia did not detract me from that mission.
I think of myself as a lifetime learner, so why not continue to improve my craft?
I completed my grad school program online at Walden University. I chose an online program because not only did I teach high school English full time, but I also sponsored a few extra-curricular activities and worked a second job as a tutor. Some weeks were significantly busier than others. I loved being able to flex my classes around that. Walden had several education programs, but I completed their adolescent literacy and technology program for my Master of Science in Education. They have since discontinued that program, but still have other similar programs.
4. How do you feel your graduate degree has impacted your career?
The impact was not immediate if I am being honest. I received a raise when I was still teaching in a public high school. Unfortunately, between rising costs for insurance and other expenses, it did not amount to nearly as much. By the time I left, I was taking home less money than when I had started seven years prior with just my bachelor’s degree.
It did open so many doors once I took a brief hiatus from teaching. Nine months after leaving teaching, I quit my steady, full time job as a technical writer to start my own education company. I credit that job for giving me the motivation and confidence to take the risk. People often see educators as knowledgeable and driven. They also see educators as people who will work until the job is done right, no matter how long it takes. This is both a curse and a blessing. I will admit, though, there have been weeks where I worked 18 hours or more each day. It has been exhausting, but the reward is certainly there. My business was recognized earlier this year as a top 5 finalist for “best tutoring service” in a local competition. Truthfully, I doubt I would have made it this far in two years without my master’s degree.
As a tutor who works with homeschoolers, it is vital to have a master’s degree and teaching license if you are doing assessments or providing curriculum. I am even planning to launch my online academy in the next few months. I would have never seen this path coming when I began my educational journey. It is beyond exciting.
5. Do you have any advice for someone interested in pursuing a career in education?
Being an educator is the most rewarding career there is. Unfortunately, it is not paid as such. APPLY FOR AS MANY SCHOLARSHIPS AS POSSIBLE. I cannot say this with enough emphasis. I did not know how many scholarships were available during college and for graduate school. I missed so many chances that would have made a major difference to my student loan debt. The rule of thumb is not to carry more loan debt that what you plan to make your first year working in a career. Most teachers are not so fortunate. There is a benefit to this, however. Working as an educator, you learn to be creative with extraordinarily little money and resources. This has helped to make my business grow. I always ask myself about the financial value of any purchase. If I make the incorrect choice, I risk not having money for something else I may need. Yes, it is a difficult path to pursue. You will experience both the best and worst moments in your classroom. You will cry a lot. It may be for something great or something awful. Being an educator though is something essential that we need to have a better society. It is the foundation of what makes a country strong and prosperous. It is a calling, so enter with an open heart and mind. If you are meant for it, you will know.
A career in education can take on so many different forms besides just being a classroom teacher. I left the field and knew I needed to go back to it in a different capacity. I have no plans to ever leave it again. I love the journey it continues to take me on.