Megan Howard, MAEd ’18, had two very good reasons for returning to school: Her husband, Reed, was a Baker graduate, and she had a 1-year-old son she wanted to provide for.
“I will never forget when I sat down with my Baker academic advisor and I was scared about going back to school with a little one,” Megan said. “She looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Imagine yourself graduating and your family being there cheering you on.’ ”
Megan enrolled in the Master of Arts in Education program in 2016. One month into the program, she discovered that she would soon have another member of the family to cheer her on: She was pregnant with her second son. This continued to motivate her throughout the program.
“Earning my degree was not only a way to earn more for my family, but also to be an example to my boys and demonstrate they can do whatever they set their minds to,” she said.
Reed, who earned his Master of Science in Teaching in 2013 from Baker, was supportive of his wife’s decision to return to school. He said the skills he gained and ideas he discussed through graduate-level course work with other teachers enhanced his abilities as an educator, and he looked forward to Megan having the same experience.
“Baker gave me the tools to help me develop my passion and skill for working with students,” he said.
Megan chose Baker not only because of her husband’s success, but also because of the school’s stellar reputation.
“Living in the Midwest my whole life, I knew that Baker had a strong reputation for being an affordable and high-quality university,” she said. “When I started my program I also recruited my best friend and fellow teacher to start the program with me. Being in the same cohort made a huge difference in my time at Baker.”
Halfway through her program, Megan had her second child. Although balancing the responsibilities of caring for a newborn and taking classes wasn’t easy, she found Baker’s flexible format to be a great help. She switched from taking classes in Overland Park to taking them online to better manage her growing family.
“Baker was incredibly accommodating and allowed me to finish online,” she said. “The first fall I went back to work while taking courses was difficult for sure, but I tried to carve out the same time each week to work on my course work.”
Her diligence paid off. Megan graduated in 2018, and her husband and two sons were there to applaud her achievement, just like her academic advisor told her they would be.
“I would never have imagined I would have the opportunity to get my master’s degree, but doing so has allowed me to dream big dreams,” she said.
Today, Megan is entering her 10th year as an educator. She teaches second grade at Clearwater Creek Elementary in Olathe, Kansas. And thanks to her Baker experience, her skills in the classroom are stronger than ever.
“My time at Baker reignited my love for teaching,” she said. “I gained a deeper understanding of student learning styles, assessments, and classroom management and a deeper appreciation and understanding of the diversity in my classroom. I was able to refocus myself and determine with confidence what I believe is important as an educator and why.”