When Anna King found out that she could earn a master's degree online, she chose to return to her alma mater for it.
King is glad she took the leap. Being passed over for job opportunities at work served as motivation to finally go back for her master's. She is on track to graduate from the Master of Education (M.Ed.), Curriculum & Instruction – Concentration in Elementary Education online program at the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) in May 2021.
"With the standards changing and science becoming more of a focus for the Louisiana Department of Education, I knew that I wanted to be part of it," she said. "I didn't want to be left behind."
A seventh- and eighth-grade science middle school teacher in Mangham, Louisiana, King has attended several trainings so she could help choose the science curriculum for her school district.
"I fell in love with the research aspect of it," she said. "I enjoyed picking our Tier 1 curriculum and seeing that certain angles of science are better for our students. I saw that having the degree would benefit me in those areas."
King is also part of a pilot program working toward a science content leadership certificate with the state and is a certified state mentor.
"I am consulting with a new teachers project to help them receive their mentor certification that the state requires," she said. "I love helping teachers enrich other teachers. Students need teachers, but teachers need teachers, too."
King grew up in Winnsboro, Louisiana, and acquired a love of teaching early in life. Her mother, Ann Wallace, is a pre-kindergarten teacher, while her sister, Alaina Nichols, is a high school teacher.
"I have taught Sunday school and explored a career in teaching," she said. "I saw that it was something I wanted to do. It runs in the family."
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in elementary education from ULM in 2011, King embarked on her career as a science teacher at Crowville School in her hometown. She and her husband also have three children — Linh (24), an adopted daughter; Anaston (10); and Ben (7).
"I thought about a master's degree before, but I couldn't do it with two young kids," she said. "I had a friend who told me to check into it. Then, ULM sent me an email about the master's program. I saw it could be 100% online. I couldn't believe how manageable it was to pick up and do this."
Sure enough, the flexibility of the online format helps King balance her career and family life with schoolwork.
"I adjusted to online learning quickly," she said. "I was appreciative that the professors worked with me. Any time I shot them an email, they called me immediately. My classmates provide support to me, as well.
"I love reading about the different people in the program, what they do and who is in my field. I also enjoy making those connections. I am sitting in my living room meeting people from Florida and other parts of Louisiana."
So far, ELED 5010: Advanced Studies in Math and Science is King's favorite course in the online M.Ed. C&I in Elementary Education program curriculum.
"It's based on math and science in middle school and how they connect," she said. "I am familiar with the subject, so I can show my niche and do what I love to do."
Although King has plenty of classroom experience under her belt, she is learning new information that broadens her perspective in the M.Ed. program.
"It is applicable," she said. "I have blossomed in the classroom because I am making these connections. It's like, 'Wait, I already do that, but I have never looked at it that way.' It has reinforced my skills. I am trying things instead of getting bogged down in something I have done for eight years."
King hopes to someday be a member of the Louisiana Department of Education's science curriculum team. She believes having a master's degree will help her achieve her career goal.
"The master's degree program has already helped me get noticed and opened doors," she said. "I have absolutely received good value out of the M.Ed. program."
Plus, King said that earning the degree online is more manageable than she expected.
"It's amazing," she said. "I thought it was something much harder. I thought it was beyond my reach.
It's also nice being back in school at ULM. It feels like I never left — even though it's been almost 10 years."
Provided the pandemic allows for an in-person commencement ceremony, King would love to walk the graduation stage again in Monroe. She and her family also hope to continue their quest to visit all 50 states in America when travel is safe again.
"My husband, Bubba, told me whatever he had to do to make it happen, he would — even if he had to play music and have me walk down the driveway," she said. "My mom is beyond ecstatic."
Having successfully progressed through the online program, King has some advice to give to potential students.
"You can do this," she said. "It's not impossible. If I can do it with my busy schedule, anybody can do it. Just enjoy the experience and don't stress."
Learn more about ULM's M.Ed. C&I – Concentration in Elementary Education online program.
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