December 2017 commencement: Laura Baumgartner, Lindsey Flori & Hannah Manley


December 2017 commencement: Laura Baumgartner, Lindsey Flori & Hannah Manley

13 Dec 2017    

Laura Baumgartner | Dalton, Ohio | Master of Arts in Special Education (Early Childhood Special Education)

Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Music, Bluffton University

What motivated you to pursue a master’s degree?
My undergraduate degrees were in elementary education and music many, many years ago. I have experience working in several fields, and have always wanted to complete a master's degree. I have the mentality of a life-long learner, and even when I wasn't enrolled in a graduate program, would read just for fun and to expand my knowledge. It feels very satisfying to complete the program, and although it took me longer than I would have liked (I'm 51), I know that the knowledge I've gained through the program has been critical tor my development as an effective early childhood special educator. 

Why did you choose Nebraska’s special education master’s program?
I chose the University of Nebraska-Lincoln because we moved to Nebraska for my husband's job and I was in the middle of the program at Johns Hopkins University and wanted to finish. I have been working toward a master's degree in one form or another for 10 years now, first at Illinois State University, then Johns Hopkins. My husband's career has taken us to five states, so it's been great to have the encouragement of Dr. Marvin to FINISH. :)

What has been most rewarding about your master’s program?
I have loved the shift from school-aged special education to early childhood! When I first got a job working in a preschool classroom as the ECSE teacher, it was quite a shift from my experience as the general education first-grade teacher in Maryland. I have come to love the early childhood experience and play-based interventions. 

What’s next?
My plan is to continue working with Lincoln Public Schools in early childhood. This year and last, I have been a home-based teacher, working with families in their homes and in community daycares, consulting with teachers who are working so hard every day to meet the needs of children with developmental delays. I plan to stay in early childhood in one capacity or another for the remainder of my career! 

Lindsey Flori | Omaha, Nebraska | Master of Education in Special Education (Deaf and Hard of Hearing)

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

What motivated you to pursue a master’s degree?
My motivation to get a master’s degree came from the fact that I found my passion, or calling, late in my undergraduate career. I took American Sign Language courses and something inside of me just clicked and I knew I was meant to do something with children who have hearing loss. So, instead of changing my program in my last year, I decided to further my education with a master’s degree.

Why did you choose Nebraska’s special education master’s program?
Lincoln felt like home by the time I graduate with my bachelor’s degree. I never really looked anywhere else. I also had just had my son and the online courses offered the flexibility I needed as a new mom. 

What has been most rewarding about your master’s program?
The opportunities that the university has provided for me to branch out and learn about the education field. I spent time studying in different schools in Lincoln and other cities, visiting the Iowa School for the Deaf, attending meetings and seminars, and getting hands-on experience working with kids.

What’s next?
I have accepted an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing position with Lincoln Public Schools starting this January! 

Hannah Manley | Kearney, Nebraska | Master of Education in Special Education (7-12)

Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

What motivated you to pursue a master’s degree?
I became interested in special education after I got matched with my mentee from the Teammates Mentoring Program in 2011. My Teammate receives special education services, and it was a journey for me to learn how to best communicate with her and support her during our weekly meetings. I fell in love with the challenges and rewards, which motivated me to pursue my master’s in special education. 

Why did you choose Nebraska’s special education master’s program?
Since I received my undergraduate degree at Nebraska, I was familiar with the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, and knew it would be a good fit. 

What has been most rewarding about your master’s program?
It has been rewarding to see myself grow over the last few years in terms of knowledge and confidence. I have learned so much and have been able to put that knowledge to use in the classroom. During the course of my master’s program, I truly found my love for serving students with exceptionalities and it has been gratifying to develop that passion.

What’s next?
I am looking to start my special education career in Lincoln.


Special Education and Communication Disorders