Two years, two ULM degrees.
After earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education mostly on campus in December 2016, Chelsea Dickerson transitioned to the fully online program and graduated with a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction in Elementary Education in May 2018. She is the first person in her immediate family to earn a graduate degree.
"I taught school full time, was a full-time nanny for two kids and got my master's degree in a little more than one year," Dickerson said. "There were a lot of sleepless nights, but I managed to do it. The flexibility of the online format helped a lot. If it wasn't for that flexibility, I wouldn't have been able to go back to school because I also needed to have a full-time job."
Speaking of, the Monroe native got her first full-time teaching gig locally at Jesus the Good Shepherd Catholic School in August 2017. Now, she teaches English Language Arts at Lee Junior High School in the Monroe City School District.
"After my undergraduate degree program, I had a maternity substitute teaching job that led to a job offer for third grade," she said. "I left Jesus the Good Shepherd in 2017. I had a recommendation put in for the school I'm at now, so I was hired to teach seventh grade.
"I was going to try to do the master's degree in leadership, but I didn't realize that you have to have three years of teaching before you did that program. I decided to get my master's in curriculum and instruction instead in case something becomes available and I want to do something different."
Dickerson is no stranger to trying different things. In fact, she changed her major five times. Her explorations included a stint as a nursing student at ULM, before she turned her full attention to teaching. In the end, she made the right call.
"I love teaching my students and helping them obtain their goals," she said. "I want to inspire children daily and provide them with the tools to be successful."
Carving a Niche
Dickerson didn't want to wait long to enroll in graduate school. Even with a hectic schedule, she took as many courses as she could at a time to complete the online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction in Elementary Education as quickly as possible.
"My family and friends were very excited for me to go back to school so soon after I finished my undergraduate degree," she said. "They figured after being in school for six or seven years that I wouldn't want to go back. I said, 'If I don't go back now, I may never go back.' ULM was a natural choice."
CURR 5073: Assessment and Accountability was one of Dickerson's favorite courses in the online M.Ed. program curriculum. She spent about six hours per week on schoolwork with a full course load.
"I really liked that specific course because it covered a variety of assessment methods. It discussed how to format and evaluate assessments that would help the students gain a better understanding of the skills. There were several strategies from this course that I implemented in my classroom to benefit each child's learning."
Ready to Soar
Although Dickerson has walked the graduation stage at ULM twice in the span of two years, she wouldn't have it any other way.
"The master's degree graduation was pretty much the same as the bachelor's degree graduation," she said. "But I thought, 'I paid for my degree, I'm going to walk on stage.' It was fun."
Dickerson is finished with higher education for the moment, but she isn't ruling out a return to earn that M.Ed. in Educational Leadership once she meets the program qualifications.
"I have thought about becoming a principal, a curriculum coordinator or even a college teacher," she said. "I'd love to teach either elementary education or at the college level for my career."
Equipped with a pair of ULM education degrees, Dickerson, who enjoys shopping, traveling and hiking, feels prepared for any career destination.
"The courses were very content heavy and time consuming," she said of the online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction in Elementary Education program. "You have to do a significant amount of research and writing. As long as you can sit down and do it, it will all work out. This program will really help advance a teacher's career and his or her teaching abilities."
Learn more about the ULM online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction in Elementary Education program.
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