Nine years, three college degrees.
Yantea Ingram completed that impressive run by graduating from the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Reading program at the University of Louisiana Monroe in December 2020.
“Most of my friends are teachers. They thought I was crazy to go back for a second master’s,” said Ingram who graduated with an M.Ed. in Teaching from ULM in 2013.
The K-3 special education teacher is in her eighth year at Robinson Elementary School in Monroe and wants to focus on making sure her students have the reading ability to move forward with confidence.
“Every year, I service many students whose reading skills are below their grade level,” she said. “These students are either transferred to the next grade, held back or put in special education in hopes that they can somehow excel at the same rate as their peers. If they are not reading fluently by third grade, they are going to be behind the rest of their educational careers, but if taught the fundamentals in grades K-2, these students have a higher chance of success.
In Proper Context
Ingram was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in an Air Force family. After completing high school in Shreveport, she worked in retail for five years and graduated from ULM in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a business concentration.
“When I was in my first career, I was always picked to train new employees,” she said. “I was told that I was an awesome teacher and could teach anyone anything in a way they could understand.
“I got into it and realized I want to invest in our future. Children are our future. They are our future doctors and lawyers. Why not be an asset to them in the best way that I can?”
After researching universities for her second master’s degree, Ingram found what she was looking for across town.
“It helped to have familiarity with ULM, since other options I considered did not have the concentration I wanted,” she said. “Thankfully, nothing had really changed in the ULM campus. I still knew where the library was located, so adjusting to the new course load was second nature. I even had to retake three of the classes I took during my first master’s degree, and I am glad that I did. They were completely different than the first time I took them, and I learned so much more.”
Ingram especially enjoyed the home stretch of the online M.Ed. C&I in Reading program. Dr. Stacie Austin and Dr. Shalanda Stanley each taught two of her final four courses.
“I worked so hard, and I thank God that I retained everything Dr. Austin and Dr. Stanley taught me,” she said. “I was able to use the information I was learning as I taught summer school. While I was taking those courses, I implemented the lessons with my pre-K students, which was an awesome experience.”
The online format of ULM’s M.Ed. C&I in Reading program worked well for Ingram.
“Adjusting to the virtual setting was easy, because I like to stay at my school a few hours after it ends,” she said. “I won’t leave until 6 p.m. sometimes. I would stay after school and do classwork and homework. I appreciated the flexibility.”
Changing the Narrative
Ingram widened her perspective as an educator while adding new skill sets in the additional master’s degree program.
“I don’t know how they fit all of that information into eight-week courses,” she said. “I did not really learn how to study until this master’s program. You need to know the material before you work on projects and individual assignments.
“It made me separate sections of my chapters to read every day. If you are taking more than one class at a time, you have to have time management.”
By earning a second master’s degree, Ingram increased her versatility and created more avenues for her career as an educator.
“If I don’t want to be a special education teacher, I can be a reading interventionist — it’s an option,” she said. “As of now, I am content where I am, but I may look into a different area next year.”
Ingram, who is the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree and in her ninth year as an educator, believes that anyone considering the online M.Ed. C&I in Reading program at ULM should have a solid plan.
“I would tell them to know their motivation for completing the program,” she said. “The motivation can’t be a short-term goal. A salary and a summer break will not get you through late night homework sessions after finishing a normal school day in any classroom. Your motivation has to be genuine; mine has always been the success and well-being of my students.”
Learn more about ULM’s online M.Ed. C&I in Reading program.