Ashley Smith, a December 2013 graduate of the K-12 Special Education: General Curriculum Master of Education program, discussed what she’s gained from her studies in the Specialized Education Studies (SES) department in the School of Education, and what inspired her to choose her path of study.
“What I’ve Gained from My Experience in Specialized Education at UNCG.”
- Community to share/exchange ideas with
- Weekly advice and support
- Varying points of view
- Lifelong friends
- Professional connections
- Opportunity to network
- Field experience
- Essential Learning Opportunities
What Inspired Me to Choose a Career in Special Education (MY PASSION)
For as long as I can remember, people told me I should be a teacher. Their reasons were endless but none could convince me. It seemed like everyone I knew was either a teacher or going to college to become a teacher and I wanted to be different. I wanted to be something else, anything else. While I knew I wanted a career in the education field, I love school and everything about it, I was sure it wasn’t a teaching career. Boy was I wrong. After enrolling in graduate school in other areas of interest and realizing there’s only so long you can avoid the inevitable, I found my way to the School of Education at UNCG. Once I gave in to a career in teaching, choosing the field within education where I’d pursue my degree was easy. Children with special needs are my passion so Special Education was the obvious choice. There’s absolutely no other group I would rather work with and be an advocate for than those with special needs. I believe people both in and out of education should be well informed about individuals with special needs and with my degree and through my career in Special Education I can see to it that this is done.
Things I enjoyed in my SES Studies
As unbelievable as this may sound, I enjoyed everything in my SES studies at UNCG. The classes, professors and other students were topnotch. I can honestly say every class I took was vital to my development and growth as a special educator. I never once questioned why I had to take a required class. The need and purpose for every class was obvious. SES classes build on one another so once the foundation is set you can always refer back to a previous class or classes for assistance. Each of the professors in the SES department have made significant contributions to their respective fields of study and have years of experience in Special Education. Even with all their accomplishments, our professors remained approachable and very easy to talk to. They were also understanding, encouraging and flexible. Specifically, Dr. Nicole Dobbins never hesitated to look over an assignment to check for understanding and allowed revisions to encourage mastery of concepts. Dr. Teresa Little always made herself available either by phone or in person to answer questions, work through a placement conflict, calm nerves and most importantly just listen or offer encouragement, if that’s what we needed. Having professors with these qualities was beyond comforting and helpful beyond measure. Possibly what I enjoyed most during my time in the SES program were the people I met. I took most of my classes with the same people and as a result we became like a family. Not only did we complete assignments together and collaborate, we celebrated birthdays, marriages and births together. While in the program we became like family and now we are our first professional network. It’s great to know that some of the support network that helped you through graduate school will continue to be around in the real world.
Expectations for my Future (What’s Next?)
Now that I’ve completed my Master’s in Special Education, I plan to do the obvious, apply for jobs. My dream job is in the Resource setting in an elementary school. I plan to apply for jobs all over North Carolina and possibly in some neighboring states. I will also continue to further my knowledge, share what I’ve learned and advocate for students with special needs. I will also continue to share with others what one of my professors shared with me, fair isn’t giving every child the same thing, fair is giving every child what they need.
For more information on courses of study provided by the Specialized Education Services department in the UNCG School of Education, please visit http://ses.uncg.edu/.