May 2017 graduate spotlights: Special education

May 2017 graduate spotlights: Special education

02 May 2017    By Kelcey Buck

Annie Pearson |  Elkhorn, Nebraska  |  Master of Education in Special Education (Mild-Moderate K-6)

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Annie PearsonWhat made you interested in special education?
I became interested in special education while attending a school where I learned to train service dogs. There, I was exposed to all different people with various special needs. After getting to know all these wonderful people, I decided I wanted to get more involved with them in a positive way by becoming a special education teacher. 

What made you choose Nebraska’s special education program for your graduate work?
I chose Nebraska for my graduate school because I loved the school after getting my undergraduate degree. I really like the graduate program offered by Nebraska because I was able to earn both my teaching certificate and my master’s all in one program through both online and on-campus classes.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying special education at Nebraska?
The most rewarding aspect of studying special education at Nebraska is knowing that I will be making a difference in many children’s lives. Working with students every day and educating them gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I know that after going through all the different classes, I will be able to help build my students’ knowledge base so they can be successful and accomplish their goals in the future. 

What’s next?
After graduating, I will begin my teaching career as an elementary special education teacher at Westside School District in Omaha, Nebraska. I hope to incorporate a service dog in the classroom eventually, and may go back to school at some point to further my education.

Abbey Buettgenbach |  Pierce, Nebraska  |  Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education & Special Education (K-6)

Abbey BuettgenbachWhat brought you to Nebraska?
I heard that Nebraska had an amazing education program that had students teaching in classrooms early on in the program. Along with that, some of the educators that I respected the most had received their degree from Nebraska. Also, my sister attended Nebraska, and that was an added benefit to know that I would have a family member close by.

What interested you in studying elementary education & special education?
I’ve always had a passion for working with kids. I did a cadet teaching experience in high school where I got to go to the elementary every day and work with some second graders. This experience working with an amazing teacher and great students of all abilities helped me to really decide that teaching was what I wanted to do with my life. My favorite memories are those small moments when a student finally “gets it!” or when a student gets all smiley faces on his/her behavior chart. I truly believe that every student can learn to be successful and I aim to make that happen.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying elementary education & special education at Nebraska?
I believe the most rewarding thing about studying education here at Nebraska is the sense of community and support we students always have. The professors all know us by name and we know them by first name. Most professors are willing and available to assist in anything we need whether it be finding a specific book for a lesson plan or figuring out how to do a homework assignment. Not only on campus, but also in the schools. Every school I have had a practicum or student teaching experience in has been a very welcoming school with welcoming and friendly teachers and staff. Our supervisors and professors on campus make sure that everything that happens off campus is a great experience. All of my cooperating teachers have been absolutely amazing and have helped me grow so much as a teacher.

Along with professors and cooperating teachers, I also found some amazing “teacher friends” that I call upon with any questions. Especially as a dual major, we got really close. I love that I can send a question in our group chat about how they might handle a situation or if they understood a specific project, and I would get an immediate response. We all became very good friends and I feel like we will always have those connections, even as we move on to teach in different towns or even different states. 

What’s next?
I am excited to say that after graduation, I will be attending graduate school here at Nebraska. My area of study will be Deaf education. The program will, hopefully, only take about a year and a half to complete. Then I will become a Deaf educator in the state of Nebraska. I know that my degrees in elementary education and special education will help make me a better Deaf educator.

Charlie Muller |  Morse Bluff, Nebraska  |  Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education & Special Education (K-6)

Charlie MullerWhat brought you to Nebraska?
Growing up I always wanted to be a Husker. After high school, I did extensive research on their teacher education program and I decided Nebraska was the right place for me. 

What interested you in studying elementary education & special education?
The original thing that attracted me to education was my time in mixed martial arts. I earned a 3rd degree black belt through years of hard work and dedication. During my time involved with this I also got to instruct small groups of students in martial arts. I taught them fundamental concepts such as a self-control and self-discipline. I realized I loved teaching young kids and this translated heavily into me wanting to become a teacher.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying elementary education & special education at Nebraska?
The most rewarding aspect for me personally has been getting into the different schools during my practicum and student teaching placements and actually teaching. Seeing the look on a student’s face when “they get it” is priceless. It has been one of the best experiences of my life.

What’s next?
After I graduate, I will start working right away. I have accepted a job to be a 4th grade elementary teacher at DC West Elementary in Valley, Nebraska. This is the same school where I have been student teaching. It is a great fit for me, and I’m very excited to get started in my teaching career.

Kayla Ramos |  George Town, Grand Cayman  |  Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education & Special Education (K-6)

Kayla RamosWhat brought you to Nebraska?
I came to Nebraska because I wanted to challenge myself as an individual as well as experience life outside of my island. I wanted to move somewhere where I was forced to be on my own and to experience something new, and over the past four years Nebraska has been the experience I was searching for. I have thoroughly enjoyed my years here from the Husker football games to the changing seasons, everything has been so different for me but also amazing. I was also attracted to Nebraska because of the high standards it holds its students to and the strong educational background it provides for its students. I would not trade my education or life experiences that I have achieved here at Nebraska for anything.  

What interested you in studying elementary education & special education?
I became interested in studying elementary/special education because of my love for students and one outstanding teacher. Growing up, I was a student who struggled with behavior and academics. In high school, I met a teacher named Mrs. Baker, who showed me how to love school although it was difficult. She had such a major influence in my life and I will forever be grateful for everything she has done for me. I love working with students and making them excited to learn. It is such an internally rewarding career and I could not imagine myself doing anything else. Students are challenging in more ways than one, and I love the challenge that comes along with working with students who require different accommodations; I enjoy challenging myself to think outside of the box to make students successful both inside and outside of my classroom. 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying elementary education & special education at Nebraska?
The most rewarding aspect has been being there for the moments when students finally overcome something that once seemed impossible. I love watching my students succeed and celebrating the little accomplishments in life that they experience inside and outside of my classroom.

What’s next?
After graduation, I am continuing my education at Nebraska by beginning my master’s in special education starting in the summer. I am excited for the challenge, as well as for the strong educational background I will build to help my future students succeed in their endeavors.

Presleigh Keplinger |  Omaha, Nebraska  |  Bachelor of Science in Special Education (7-12)

Presleigh KeplingerWhat brought you to Nebraska?
Being from Nebraska, I have always loved the friendly culture and atmosphere of the Midwest. I grew up a Husker fan, so of course I had to attend this Big 10 school! I love that UNL has allowed me to be close to my family, yet still feel independent enough to be on my own.  

What interested you in studying special education, particularly for grades 7-12?
I have always been drawn to this area of study from a young age. In high school, I did a community internship in the special education room and fell in love with it! I love the idea of being able to provide the supports needed to help each student reach their fullest potential and become positive contributors to our community, no matter their ability level.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying special education at Nebraska?
Studying special education at Nebraska has had many rewarding aspects! The faculty and students in this field have given me so much support and encouragement. Having practicums and being able to work hands-on in the classroom has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had. Nebraska has truly confirmed what I'm passionate about and given me so many opportunities to pursue this.

What’s next for you after graduation?
My dream job is to work with students who have severe and profound disabilities, so I have applied to middle and high school life skills positions in Lincoln Public Schools and Omaha Public Schools. Hopefully I will end up in one of those school districts!

Special Education and Communication Disorders