Several years ago, I decided that it was time to further my career by enrolling in a Master’s Degree program. I had spent my post-Bachelor years in the human services field; however the focus always was on children and families. As a matter of fact, my lifelong passion had been children and families; however, I had a specific interest for English Language Learners and the importance of maintaining individual home languages. Nonetheless, I was at a complete loss for what type of post graduate degree I should aim for.
I knew that I wanted to help advocate for this particular community, but I had no idea what career paths were available to take. I contemplated getting a Master’s in Bilingual Education but that never seemed to come to fruition. As I continued my work with children and families, I started to notice a large portion of culturally insensitive practices continuing to occur in the preschool classroom. Oftentimes these occurrences led to unnecessary IEPs and/or inappropriate goals placed on IEPs. This led me to consider a Master’s degree in Special Ed, yet I was unaware how this would allow for a specific concentration on ELLs, nor could I imagine what path I would embark on after receiving this degree.
I continued exploring different options for obtaining an MA, that would really allow for individualization for my passion. Eventually the perfect program came along. They were looking for candidates for the 1st year of the Buell Early Childhood Education Leadership Program. I was encouraged to apply. Again, I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure that I could embark on my desired career path from the resulting degree.
After tons of discussion with multiple mentors, I decided to go for it. I applied, was called in for an interview and waited excruciatingly long for a response. Unfortunately I was not accepted. The following year, I was personally contacted with a request to reapply. I did so begrudgingly, expecting another rejection. Luckily this wasn’t the case.
I recall the first day, sitting in the familiar classroom setups that are so often trademarked by interactive classrooms to facilitate discussion and collaboration. I was completely intimidated as we went round robin “telling about ourselves”. By comparison, the breadth of knowledge all my fellow fellows (pun intended) seemed expansive.
As the year passed, and we discussed, debated and informed ourselves about the issues in the Early Childhood Field, I became more confident. I found my voice. I spent my year researching my passion which was centered on English Language Learners with Special Needs. All the research culminated in a grant to develop a Toolkit for Families going through the IFSP/IEP process. In short, I built a strong foundation that would propel me for the next stages in my career.
In the years since then, my tie to the Buell community has served me well. Since the first year that I applied, 97 Buell Fellows from all around Colorado have completed the program. The beauty of the program is that your learning doesn’t stop the day you end the program. You continue participating and advocating in a variety of ways in the ECE community. You continue growing, discovering and evolving. You find a new sense of purpose and passion.
I signed up for the Buell ECE Leadership Program with the sole intention of getting a MA. I got that and so, so much more.
(…and now you can too. Buell is currently accepting applications. The deadline is February 22, 2013. Apply here)