Determined to empower children, Shanna juggled motherhood, homeschooling, and a full-time job to complete her Professional Certificate in Educational Therapy.
After 10 years in the classroom, Shanna knew that she wanted something more. She wanted to work with children one-on-one, to inspire them, to motivate them, and to help those with challenges unlock their unique learning potential.
Q. What brought you to UCR University Extension?
A. After the birth of my daughter, I knew that I wanted to remain in education, but knew that I didn’t want to continue on the path of a classroom teacher. I heard about Educational Therapy from a friend, but wasn’t sure that I would have time to complete the program. However, when the pandemic hit, I found myself with extra time and decided to take some courses. The six-week course frame was manageable, and I enjoyed the content which I was able to implement to my private tutoring clients.
Q. What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your journey?
A. As a mom of two young children, finding blocks of time to complete assignments, while dealing with a pandemic and Zoom school, presented challenges.
Q. What were some of the unexpected benefits?
A. Even though finding time to complete assignments could be challenging due to the pandemic, an added benefit was the sense of purpose that it created, while navigating the complexities of a pandemic. The fact that the classes were online was helpful in finishing the courses.
Q. Looking back at where you were when you started this journey, where did you think or hope it would lead you?
A. I was looking for autonomy over my teaching career, so that I could be my own boss and the director of a private practice. Educational Therapy provided me with virtual training opportunities that, otherwise, wouldn’t be available. I also discovered my true passion for working with children with reading challenges and dyslexia. I am now an expert in my niche, and just where I wanted to be.
Q. What difference did your experience at UCR University Extension make to your life path and career goals?
A. Pursuing this certificate helped me to continue a fulfilling career in education. As a teacher, I wanted to empower children to learn and to unlock their unique learning potential. Through my own educational journey, I have realized that I love working one-on-one with students and finding ways to spark their interest. My goal has always been to help children develop a love of learning. Educational Therapists work with children to develop individualized strategies and interventions that can be adaptable in the classroom. The Educational Therapy certificate program allowed me to create a private practice that can serve children in the community.
Q. What have been some of the most exciting or rewarding moments of your career so far?
A. An Educational Therapist builds on a child’s academic skills and strengths in order to build self-confidence. They are trained to develop educational plans by giving assessments, tracking progress, and making the appropriate adjustments as needed. It has been rewarding to work with children in a 1:1 setting and to see their progress and growth, as they meet educational benchmarks and gain more confidence in their overall skills. Watching a child feel confident in his/her progress has been very rewarding.
Q. What professional and personal achievements are you most proud of, and why?
A. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education/Psychology and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology, both from Marist College in New York. I have been a classroom teacher for 10 years, a literacy coach, a homeschool teacher, and a tutor/learning specialist. I have also worked across cultures with my first teaching job being a 4th grade Special Education teacher on the Leeward side of Hawaii. I am proud that I was also able to finish my Educational Therapy certificate program in one year during the pandemic, while working as a private tutor, and being a homeschooling mom of two young children!
Q. What has been the greatest challenge you have faced during your career?
A. The biggest challenge that I have faced is knowing that a child needs specific interventions, but not being able to appropriately dedicate time to work with a child. Another challenge would be working with educators who are not passionate about helping children to meet their individual needs, but see teaching as a “cookie cutter” type of situation with all children receiving the “same materials,” when we know that classrooms have a range of children that receive/learn information in different ways.
Q. What advice would you give to students or graduates looking to move into your industry?
A. I would advise educators who are passionate about working with children 1:1, so that they can unlock their unique learning potential, to look at a career in Educational Therapy. To be successful in this field, you have to have a passion for developing curriculum and intervention plans that fit the specific needs of students based on current research, which takes time and dedication. As an Educational Therapist, once you develop a niche, you become an expert in the field and are able to better help children in your community.
Q. Was there a particular department, staff member, or instructor memorable to your experience?
A. Jennifer A. O’Malley, the instructor for Assessments for Educational Therapy Practicum. This course was the most useful course that I took while enrolled in the program. It was laid out in a format that enabled students to learn how to administer assessments, as well as how to write an assessment report for families. Jennifer also provided quick and thoughtful feedback that could be readily applied to all assignments.
Q. What are you doing now, Shanna?
A. I am currently an Educational Therapist and the Director of a private practice in West Los Angeles. My main focus is to serve clients who need reading support and/or have dyslexia.
Shanna has been one of the most motivated, dedicated, and enthusiastic students we’ve had the pleasure to talk with. Take a look at her website and you’ll see what happens when you tap into your passions, and make your dreams come true.
B.A., Special Education and Psychology, Marist College, NY
M.A., Educational Psychology, Marist College, NY
Graduate, UCR University Extension
Professional Certificate in Educational Therapy