Living in Florida for three years, I had recently heard of the teacher shortage in the state and wondered if a Master’s Degree in Education could be a possible next step for my career. I was also recently and unexpectedly reunited with a college friend who had just made a change in her career to education.
So, in 2005 I decided to make a career change. I decided to follow a path I considered following when I was eighteen. It was a path I initially turned away from but now felt drawn towards. I decided to become a teacher.
I spent the last few months of 2005 and the spring of 2006 taking certification exams, ESE K-12, Pre-K through 3rd grade, along with the general knowledge exam and applied for a temporary teaching certificate. I also made the decision during that time to quit my decent paying job to take a teacher assistant job.
I was excited and scared to make such a drastic change. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if I had the skills to be an effective teacher. I felt if I could begin working with students and teachers in some capacity, I would have a better idea if this was a good choice for me.
I taught my first class in 2006, Pre-K EELP (now Pre-K VE). I also spent the next few years completing an Alternative Certification Program (ACP) before applying for my professional teacher’s certificate. Those first few years were challenging but gratifying at the same time. I was fortunate that I was surrounded by wonderful mentors and colleagues who were generous with advice and resources. Teachers are some of the hardest working, smartest, generous and caring people I know.
Since starting teaching, I set the goal of going back to school for a Master’s Degree in Education. After finally completing the ACP program, I told myself I’d take a break. Teaching is fulfilling but it also is exhausting and a one year break turned into seven simply because I was hesitating.
I loved many aspects of being a teacher. Being able to have a positive influence on a child’s life was, for me, the best part of the career. But at the same time, I was hesitant because the demands placed on teachers can be overwhelming. I wasn’t sure if I could juggle the demands of teaching and college classes at the same time. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on the expense of college when I was struggling to get by.
In order to continue in education, I wanted to become a better teacher. To do that, for me, meant to earn a Master’s Degree in exceptional education. I made the choice to finally work to fulfill the goal I set when I started as a teacher. I would continue to work towards being the best teacher I could be for my students. This past August, I enrolled in University of Central Florida’s Master’s Degree in Education program that includes a Pre-K Disabilities Certificate. Twenty four years after earning my bachelor’s degree, I am so nervous and so excited to say that I am back in school.