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Betsy Kuecker grew up in Iowa and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from a local university. She worked in corporate marketing right out of college, then a year later she got a job with her alma mater. She found that she really enjoyed working with the students and transitioned later to working at a nonprofit church camp. Her inclination to teach grew stronger.
While still working, and as the new mother of a one year old, Betsy discussed with her husband how she might reach her goal to be a teacher. “We thought it would be best for me to go back and earn a master’s degree in teaching now rather than later, when it might be even harder,” she said.
She started to look around at her options. Their home is located between Ames and Waterloo, Iowa, where there are colleges but each would require at least a 45-minute drive both there and back. She realized one option was to take classes online at Kaplan University. “The online option was great. I could do my classwork after our son went to bed.” She finished her initial coursework within a year by taking three classes each semester, including the summer, and earned an intern license.
To explore teaching as a profession she used her intern license to secure a position as a para-educator at the nearby Grundy Community School District. “I wanted to be sure that this was what I really wanted. The classes at Kaplan University were structured to meet Iowa license requirements. I appreciate that the class schedule was customized to meet the state standards where I would be teaching.”The following summer she earned her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and an Iowa teaching certificate. She is now in her third year teaching English to eight graders and high school juniors. She teaches five classes each day that are built around writing and reading.“If I hadn’t taken advantage of the online opportunity, I wouldn’t be a teacher,” she said. For her, working with students is the best part of the job. “When they understand a book they’ve read or write a heartfelt piece that was cathartic for them, or I see them coming out of their shells, it’s a wonderful feeling. Also, because I have a master’s degree I got a bump up in pay.” Still feeling like a newcomer in her chosen profession, Betsy is learning by observing others she respects. “Good teachers are patient, possess deep knowledge of their content area, and are open minded.” She said the time required outside the classroom is demanding but doable.
Betsy suggests that adults seeking teaching degrees through an online program have an advantage when they cultivate other relationships and find mentors to complement the online courses.
She and her family, which now consists of two boys ages four and one, plan to remain in Iowa. “It’s where we want to raise our kids and be near family.” Betsy is busy preparing for changes in the eighth grade curriculum. Each year she looks forward to her students releasing their imaginations while reading some of the books she will introduce: The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, and The Things They Carried. “They are more excited during the beginning of the year and that sometimes wanes by the end of the year. But not for me, I’m enthusiastic year round!” This testimonial was solicited by Kaplan University. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individual; student experiences may vary. Kaplan University makes no representations or warranties as to whether the program meets the specific requirements for any individual state or school system for pay increase or job advancement purposes. Students are encouraged to independently research the requirements in any state or school system in which they intend to seek a pay increase or promotion.
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