Yesterday morning, I opened up this email. And, even though I knew it was going to come sooner or later, I couldn't have been more excited when I read those words. I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED!! To what? Well, Grad School. If everything goes OK, in August I'll be starting the journey to getting my Masters Degree in Elementary Admin.
The school where I teach was extremely lucky to be offered a cohort for Williams Woods University. What that means is, as long as at least 8 other teachers get that same email I did, we'll actually have professors come to the school to do our program right there where I work. No traveling, no missing work or leaving early for classes, no sitting in front of a computer every night of the week for online classes, everything will be done right there and I'll be working with people I know rather than complete strangers.
A few months ago, I had no real intentions of going back to school any time soon. I mean, it's something I wanted to do eventually, but I thought I'd be teaching a few more years (and carving away at some of my already overwhelming amount of student loans) before I decided to go back. But, it's an opportunity that isn't guaranteed will be available to me again.
The program will consist of having class one night a week for 3 hours. We'll take one class at a time, about 6 weeks at a time. After the first year, I'll have 15 hours of credit so that I can claim the Bachelors +15 pay raise in my salary scale. Then, six months later, I'll graduate with my Masters and earn myself the big bucks that comes with having a Masters Degree. (When I say "big bucks" that's speaking in teacher salary terms... so compared to what I was making, not compared to what people think of when they think of high salary terms.)
Even though it's only one class at a time and 3 hours of classwork a week, I know it will be A LOT more than that. I know I'll have tons of work to do outside of class. But, one class at a time will be manageable. OK, so I won't be able to volunteer for all the extracurricular activities I often volunteer for, but I also know that it won't be the "lock myself away and never see the light of day" schooling I did while getting my Bachelors. Back then, I was taking 15+ hours at a time. This time around, I'll only be doing 1-3 hours college credit hours at a time. MUCH more doable.
When presented with the opportunity, I had the option of doing Elementary Admin or Curriculum & Instruction. The C&I Masters is a little less demanding, but when I thought about my future, I wanted to get a degree that would have some kind of license to go with it. A C&I Masters would make me somewhat of a top candidate for jobs that require a specialization in Curriculum & Instruction, but that's about it.
Even though at this point in time I have no desire to ever become a principal, it doesn't mean that 15 years from now I won't want to give it a try. A C&I Masters wouldn't give me that option. And, I don't want to be a person that gets a masters degree and then 15 years from now has to go BACK to college to get ANOTHER degree just to pursue the opportunity for working as a principal. Might as well get it done now, and then I'm set if the time ever comes that I decide to move out of a classroom.
For the life of me, I don't ever see that happening, but I've spoken to enough people in administration positions that tell me they ALL felt the same way when they first started teaching. And, I'm not going to lie, I honestly think there will be a time a LONG way down the road when I think that I might be ready to tackle the challenge of running an entire school. I've always been a person that wants to keep moving up and challenging myself. Being a principal is a mighty endeavor, and one that I will probably want to consider when I've spent years and years in the classroom doing what I do and gaining the knowledge needed to even consider being a principal.
It's not only about the money or the opportunities that await years down the road, getting my Masters Degree is also about showing my kids that I continue to follow my dreams, no matter what obstacles stand in my way. In a perfect world, I would have had my Bachelors when I was 22 and my Masters by the time I was 25.. but it's not a perfect world. That doesn't mean I can't or couldn't achieve the goals I set for myself all those years ago, when I was young and the world was mine for the taking.
Finishing school, going to college, becoming a teacher, and even getting a Masters Degree was always on my "to-do" list. From way back when college starting becoming a thing I was focusing on (my freshman year of high school) those were my plans. Of course, back then, the plan was to go straight for getting my Masters in one swoop. Staying in college until it was done. Having a M.A.T. (Masters of Arts in Teaching) was the way to go in order to get a teaching degree. But, just because I took a few detours on the way doesn't mean that any of those plans had to be crossed off my list.
I may be 10 years older than I would have been had my life followed the course I mapped out, but I now know that situations don't always play out the way I want them to. In fact, 99.9% of the time, situations don't play out the way I planned. There's always a curveball being thrown my way. But, my successes and achievements I've made in my life have been that much more important because I've seen the curveball coming, and swung with all my might until that ball makes it out of the park. (Like that baseball analogy? Nice, right?)
Anywho, I have ten more days of teaching summer school, then it's a nice, long, relaxing summer break to get myself physically and mentally prepared for the 18 months that will follow. I'm sure I'll complain. I'm sure I'll whine. But, I'm sure I'll keep my eyes set on the prize and be cheering with excitement once it's all over.
Eighteen months is nothing. I can do it. I know I can.