Fourth-grade math and science teacher Michelle Ferre* was destined to be an educator.
“I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in second grade,” she says. “It was just something I was drawn to, something I was born to do. I love what I do. It’s gratifying having a positive impact on students, being able to give them a safe place to come to every day, and making them excited to learn.”
*Michelle is an actual FlexPath student compensated for appearing in Capella promotional materials.
Like many other school districts, Ferre’s district requires teachers to complete a master’s degree by their tenth year of teaching to remain qualified for their teaching certificate. Ferre had no qualms about that and wanted to start much earlier, so she began looking at master’s programs in her fourth year. “Personally, I want to be an example of a lifelong learner for my students,” she says. “I want to show them what it’s like to continually better yourself through education.” She also sees it as a necessity for her field. “The field of education is constantly changing. So, as a teacher, I need to be learning as much as I can to stay on top of my game and give my students the best education I can.”
Finding the Right Format
Her advanced education got off to a rocky start when she registered in a traditional program. “I tried a very standard master’s program where I signed up for a certain number of credit hours per semester,” she explains. “Having strict deadlines just did not work with my schedule.”
Then she discovered Capella University’s FlexPath learning format, which provided her with the flexibility she needed to succeed. She found that she could accelerate or decelerate her pace as needed, depending on what was happening in her work and personal life. “Moving my deadlines fits perfectly with my life as a teacher because there are certain weeks where things are very hectic, and I just don’t have as much time to work on my master’s program,” she says. “With FlexPath, if I have to move a date further out, I can. But I can also get assignments done ahead of time if I have the extra time.”
The flexible format has a second benefit, notes Ferre. “This structure rewards hardworking and proactive students because they’re able to complete many courses in a designated amount of time for the same cost as taking fewer.”
Leveraging Her Experience and Knowledge
Ferre also appreciates being able to use what she has learned from prior education or through experience. “The real-world assessments included within each course allow me to easily link the experience I have gained from teaching with the course content,” she says. “Since the courses are competency-based, I’m able to focus my time and energy on learning new information that I can apply to my teaching immediately.”
Planning for the Present and the Future
Besides being able to use her education in her daily work, helps her with her passion of helping other teachers. She does this through her YouTube channel, Pocketful of Primary, which has over 150,000 subscribers. “I started this channel two years ago,” Ferre explains. “I document my life as a teacher by vlogging in the classroom to share my experiences with other teachers.” As she continues to sync her present-day work with her master’s program, some of what she’ll learn will appear on her vlog.
While Ferre loves teaching, she also sees the MEd as a step toward the future. “Earning a master’s degree in education will not only provide me with additional skills for my current role, but it may also give me opportunities to acquire education-related positions outside of the classroom,” she says. “In the future, I hope to become a new teacher coach, and I can see how the MEd may be valuable in the transition.”
A Valuable Path Forward for Teachers
When asked why other teachers should consider a master’s degree, Ferre says, “As a teacher, you have to be expanding your knowledge constantly within this ever-changing field in order to best serve your students. Schools and districts are always seeking highly-qualified educators. Earning your master’s degree may open additional career options for you and will help you to stay current on the best educational practices to improve your craft.”
Follow along with Michelle on her journey and see how FlexPath empowers teachers to pursue their degree on their time.
Learn more about Capella University’s online MEd program.