Mother, daughter earning master’s degree together

Jean and Andrea Barnard

The last time Jean Barnard was a student, she completed her assignments on a typewriter. That was in the mid-1980s at the University of Missouri before she started a career as an elementary school teacher in the Kansas City area.

Fast forward to 2013, and Barnard is midway through Baker University’s Master of Arts in Education degree program, studying and learning with her daughter, Andrea, a third-grade teacher at Visitation School in Kansas City, Mo., at her side. Both teachers are taking classes in the same cohort at Baker’s Lee’s Summit campus.

“I am getting better with technology in class and how to better use social media,” said Jean, who has taught kindergarten and first grade for 27 years, including the last four at Cedar Creek Elementary School in Lee’s Summit. “There’s a lot I have to navigate around, and my daughter has been a huge support. When I panic, she calms me down.

Teaching runs in the Barnard family. Andrea is a fourth-generation educator and grew up in her mother’s classroom, helping create bulletin boards, attending PTA meetings and having fun at school carnivals.

“My Mom thought the timing was right for me to pursue my master’s and then she said she would take the classes with me,” said Andrea, who started the master’s program in June and is on schedule to complete the coursework in February 2014 with her mother. “We sit next to each other in class and are usually partners for the group projects and help each other out.”

Part of a diverse cohort of art, music, elementary and high school teachers, Jean is comfortable around her younger classmates.

“There’s a little generation gap, but I get along with everyone,” Jean said. “Most of them are between their second and fifth year of teaching. We all have the same goal and purpose and similar experiences in the classroom.

Early in the program one of her favorite classes was Today’s Learner because of the in-depth discussion on diversity. She now enjoys the Ethics and Technology class.

“I’m being challenged a lot, and I am gaining confidence in the areas of technology that I never would have tried if I hadn’t taken this class,” Jean said. “The course is making me look more closely at technology and how it applies to classroom.

Andrea, who is in her second year of teaching, also enjoyed Today’s Learner.

“I feel as though I will always be a lifelong learner and have always wanted to be a teacher, “ she said. “When the students in my class have those little ‘aha’ moments, it is all worth it.”

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