It’s a New State, New Home, and Soon-to-Be New Educational Therapy Practice
Valerie just keeps moving forward, adding degrees, certifications, skills and new responsibilities to her resume. What’s her inspiration? It’s those gratifying “lightbulb” moments that her students have!
Q. What were some of the unexpected benefits in your educational journey?
A. “I was surprised at how many of the strategies I learned that were able to be put directly into practice in my classroom. The sound practices for teaching students with learning difficulties are applicable to the general student population, which allowed me to give better instruction to my students almost immediately after beginning the classes.”
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 hopeful to gain important skills and knowledge that would help me do a better job in my current position. In addition to classroom teaching, I also spent five hours a week working with students with learning challenges. I wanted to have a better understanding of their needs, and learn strategies to implement with these students.”
Q. What difference did your experience at UCR University Extension make to your life path and career goals?
A. “After taking the courses and learning from the instructors, as well as classmates, I am pursuing the opportunity to open my own Educational Therapy practice. I feel like I have gained significant skills that will enable me to start my own practice and reach more students.”
Q. What are you doing now, Valerie?
A. “I have just relocated from Illinois to North Carolina. I am currently making contacts with educators and researching the needs in my new area so I can begin my own practice.”
Q. What have been some of the most exciting or rewarding moments of your career so far?
A. “When I see individual students have a “lightbulb” moment and conquer a task or skill that was previously unattainable for them, I am so excited. It is often difficult to reach every student in a classroom setting, or to even have the time to notice specific needs that are beyond the whole group instruction. When I am able to work with students in a one-on-one setting, the progress is much more visible and it is such a rewarding experience for the student and me.”
Q. What professional achievements are you most proud of, and why?
A. “I am most proud of my continued education over the course of my career. Each time I moved into different positions, I pursued more education to help me do a better job. I have earned two Master’s degrees and just completed the Professional Certificate program in Educational Therapy. In addition to the knowledge and experience I have gained, I have been enriched by the connections I have made, and the broadening of my own perspectives.”
Q. What advice would you give to students or graduates looking to move into Educational Therapy?
A. “Because Educational Therapy is a relatively new field, there are lots of opportunities for anyone who has an interest in making learning a better experience for students with learning challenges. I would advise anyone interested in this field to join the Association of Educational Therapists, join groups within the organization, and learn as much as possible from experienced colleagues.”
Q. In your life today, what makes you really happy?
A. “I am very excited about once again living in my home state. I am excited to build a new home here with my husband and create new memories.”
Q. Was there a particular department, staff member, or instructor memorable to your experience?
A. “Three instructors in this program were really instrumental in my success. Regina Richards brought a wealth of experience and information to the classes I had with her. She is extremely enthusiastic, knowledgeable and engaged.
Penelope Joven made the classes enjoyable and very beneficial to my understanding of learning differences.
I also had a great experience with Jennifer O’Malley during my practicum course. She was very organized and incredibly timely with feedback. As I was working through the final report, she was quick to answer questions with positivity and constructive suggestions.
This complete experience gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to assess student learning and recommend interventions.”
Q. Anything else you’d like us to know, Valerie?
A. “The courses I took and connections I made through this program are invaluable. I have been able to build a network of support, and compile resources to help me get started in this field. My expectations for this venture were well-exceeded. I gained knowledge, confidence, and support that were well worth the cost!”
What a great share and thoughtful conversation, Valerie. This is just what students need to hear from our successful alumni. It will motivate and inspire them. Many thanks and we can’t wait to touch base again!
M.A., Huntington University & National Louis University
B.A., University of North Carolina
Graduate, UCR University Extension
Professional Certificate in Educational Therapy