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Bridget Spackman is a teacher, wife, and mom who firmly believes in the value of lifelong learning—but she also knows firsthand how difficult it can be to incorporate that ongoing education in a busy life.
When she learned about Capella University’s FlexPath format, she realized it was the answer to her concerns.
A teacher passionate about learning
Spackman has multiple reasons for wanting her MEd degree. “The biggest reason is to meet the Pennsylvania requirement to reach a level 2 certification,” she says. “While I don’t need to have a master’s degree to reach level 2 certification, it makes sense to take the additional credit hours.”
She’s also personally invested in continuing to learn. “By obtaining my master’s degree, I’m not just working on continuing my certification, but also bettering myself for my students,” Spackman says. “Education is constantly changing, and for us educators to provide the best possible education for our youth, we need to continue learning and improving our craft.”
The option to specialize also allows her to pursue her specific interest in curriculum development. She has firsthand experience with this sub-specialty—and that sold her on the FlexPath format. “I realized early in my career that I couldn’t meet all the individual needs of my students if I taught them with a one-size-fits-all curriculum,” she explains. “So we started creating the multi-age classroom in which I teach fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders across all different content areas. Understanding the benefits of personalized learning, I knew that the customizable FlexPath format was the perfect program to get my master’s degree.”
FlexPath made the difference
Spackman knew a master’s was what she needed to meet her various goals. But fitting graduate studies into a life already crammed with full-time work and family was a challenge. She tried a more traditional online model but found it didn’t meet her needs. “Traditional online programs were overwhelming,” she says. “I felt removed from what was happening around me. I would often have to stay behind from functions or say no to outside events because I had to complete my school work. Now, I don’t have to sacrifice every little thing that comes my way, and that’s something that cannot be replaced.”
The flexibility works on several levels for her. “I’m most excited that I can tailor the program to my needs,” she says. “Having the flexibility to complete assignments based on my level of understanding, schedule of my personal engagements, and choose courses that will enable me to grow as a learner are three components that drew me towards FlexPath.”
Still time to be a mom
Spackman was worried that adding a master’s program to her life might make it harder to maintain her life as a dedicated teacher and mother. “When I first realized that I needed to go back to school, it was such a difficult decision,” she recalls. “I was already busy as it was and the idea of having something else on my plate was hard to handle. With FlexPath, I don’t have the overwhelming feeling of discussion boards that need to be completed. If I know my son has a soccer game one afternoon, I can make sure to not schedule assessments for that day. I don’t have to feel as though I am sacrificing being a mom to gain a degree and that, to me, is priceless. Capella understands that my life shouldn’t stop just because I’m going back to school, and this allowed me to feel confident in deciding to go for it. I have the flexibility to still be a mom and wife.”
She believes many potential students would benefit from this flexibility. “FlexPath is a program designed to meet the individual needs of learners,” she explains. “It takes into account that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It recognizes that while I may be stronger in one area, there may be another area where I need to spend more time developing my skills. I chose FlexPath because it allows me to continue with my life and my career while allowing me the opportunity to enhance my craft as an educator.
For Spackman, the FlexPath format opened opportunities for her to continue learning—and continue being a role model of lifelong learning for her students.