Early in her teaching career, primary school teacher Stephanie Green recognized that so much of what she does in the classroom focuses on reading and writing. “Also, I have loved reading since before I started school as a child,” began Green, “so those content areas are near and dear to my heart!”
Green’s lifelong love of literacy led to her joining The University of Texas Permian Basin’s online Master of Arts in Literacy program. She was kind enough to share her experience in our online program as well as the factors that contributed to her becoming a certified reading specialist and advocate for literacy in the classroom.
When asked if she’s always been passionate about helping students, Green answered with a resounding yes. “[M]y younger brother is dyslexic,” explained Green, “and I watched him struggle all through school. I would help him study for a test, and he could tell me the answers with no problem at all. When he had to take the test in class and read the questions on his own, he would often bomb it—even though he knew the content.” Green’s brother’s story exemplifies the need for qualified reading specialists who understand students’ unique needs. How many otherwise capable readers are at risk of falling behind without the aid of compassionate teachers—and loved ones?
“I actually started my career teaching in a primary self-contained special education classroom,” said Green. “Even after leaving special education and going into the ‘regular’ classroom, I have always had a passion to help all students learn to love reading and writing and worked to build their self-confidence.” Green’s passion is shared by our graduate students, many of whom joined our program after witnessing students struggle to grasp fundamental reading skills. For them and Green, our online MA in literacy program offers a chance to make a direct, positive impact in the lives of readers.
In courses like Language Development and Acquisition, Green explored theories and research on reading instruction directly applicable to her classroom. “I dove deeper into the science of reading and writing, and those areas are huge in first grade,” said Green. “It is up to me to establish a strong foundation in my students so they can succeed as they move up in school.” Green learned to assess reading strengths, create intervention plans, and ultimately reach a broader range of students. Aligned with the requirements of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), our online program empowered Green to earn her reading specialist certification and become a more effective educator.
Green noted the dedication of one faculty member in particular, Literacy Program Coordinator Tara Wilson, EdD. “My favorite courses were those taught by Dr. Tara Wilson because her passion for reading always came through in her teaching and in our class discussions,” said Green. “Also, she was flexible and down-to-earth and she always stayed on top of things as my professor and my advisor.” Dr. Wilson is joined by Shelly Landreth, EdD, who also has extensive teaching experience that she is eager to share with students. Their (virtual) doors are always open to online students.
“I would recommend the online learning format to anyone who feels comfortable learning via technology, who has a schedule or distance issue that prevents face-to-face learning, or who enjoys the online learning format as opposed to face-to-face teaching,” said Green. She was surprised by how many of her fellow students were in other cities and towns—some quite a distance away. Composed of students from across Texas, our online program provides students with the resources they need to thrive in an online learning environment, including 24/7 discussion boards where students can engage with classmates and instructors.
Now that she’s a graduate and certified reading specialist, does Green still use the lessons she learned in our MA in literacy program? “I apply it every day in my classroom!” exclaimed Green. “I have a class with about half of my students experiencing severe struggles with reading and writing skills, so a majority of my day is spent on building their confidence and their foundational skills so that they progress in both areas of learning.”
Through her commitment to her students, Green has helped us realize our goal of helping educators reach their full potential. Her story is one of success for her and her students, and it’s a story replicated with every graduate of our master’s degree program. “I was excited to earn my master’s degree!” concluded Green. “It reinforced my belief in myself that I can rise to a challenge and succeed.”
We’re proud to report that graduates of our MA in literacy program pursuing their reading specialist certification currently have a 100% pass rate. Though some may doubt themselves, many of our students come to realize that their personal and career goals are attainable—as within reach as a book on a shelf.
Green recommends our online MA in literacy program to “anyone who wants to learn more about literacy and teaching those skills effectively in the classroom.” If you’re interested in becoming a more effective educator and passing on your literacy skills to others, apply to our online Master of Arts in Literacy program. You’ll gain the knowledge, skills, and credentials needed to give the gift of reading to all of your students, especially those who need it most.