Michele Riddle answered the call before she heard the ring.
After Riddle spent her entire career as an English teacher, she enrolled in the Lamar University online Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership program in April 2016.
“You don’t think about English teachers being overly involved in the educational technology world,” she said. “But I had seen how it really impacted some of my colleagues’ teaching, so I decided to go that route.”
Less than four months into the master’s program, Riddle landed a promotion. She’s now the Secondary English Curriculum Coordinator at Lovejoy (Texas) Independent School District, where she started teaching in 2008.
“It was the weirdest thing,” she said. “We’re a very small district, so the position had gone unoccupied for two years. A friend of mine called me a couple of months after I started the program and told me about the position. I said, ‘I can’t do it; I haven’t finished my master’s degree yet.’
“My colleague said, ‘No, go ahead and apply. I bet because you’re working toward it they would consider you.’ They did, and I got the job. I absolutely love it.”
Riddle graduated with an M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership degree and added a Program Certificate in Principal Education in December 2017. In addition to Riddle’s role as English curriculum coordinator, she added K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator to her plate in the 2017-18 school year.
“There are a lot of state regulations that require an administrator’s sign-off for ESL,” she said. “Because I earned my principal certification, I got that extra assignment.”
Born to Teach
Riddle realized early on what she would do for a career.
“Even when I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to be a high school teacher,” she said. “I went through different subjects I wanted to teach. I was going to do Spanish. Then, I was going to do Chemistry. I finally settled on English.”
In 1996, Riddle graduated with a bachelor’s degree in literary studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. She taught for a year-and-a-half at Lake Highlands (Texas) High School and for nearly four years at Faubion Middle School in McKinney (Texas) before moving on to Lovejoy.
Once Riddle returned to college, she wasn’t the only student in her household. Her daughters, Meghan (21) and Morgan (19), both attend the University of Texas at Austin. They graduated from Lovejoy High School.
“My husband, George, was super proud of me,” she said. “He talked about how all three of his girls were in college at the same time. My whole family was so proud of me.
“When my youngest daughter was graduating from high school, I didn’t have any ties to where I was, as far as teaching goes, anymore. I really liked being there with them. That’s when I decided to get my master’s so I could do something different.”
Riddle reaped another benefit from the online M.Ed. in Educational Technology program — extra bonding time with Meghan.
“She had already started using the online platform to do a few classes,” Riddle said. “We could talk about some of the information that I was learning in the educational technology classes. I could say, ‘Hey, for that project, why don’t you use this platform or that platform?’ It was pretty cool.”
The price, flexibility and accelerated pace sold Riddle on Lamar University online.
“A couple of my friends had recently either finished up or were finishing up their M.Ed. at the time,” she said. “They talked about how they loved the flexibility of online. The price at Lamar University was really affordable compared to some of the other programs I looked at. My principal also did his certification through Lamar University.
“The part I loved most was, it was just one class every five weeks. A lot of friends of mine have done their master’s online, but they did it in the traditional three or four classes a semester. I loved that I could focus on one class for five weeks and move on.”
Staying the Course
For Riddle, the biggest key to success in the online M.Ed. in Educational Technology program was powering through the second course, EDLD 5301: Research.
“In the cohort that I did classes with, everyone was a little bit stressed out after the second class,” she said. “That class is notoriously hard, but it sets you up for all of the other classes. Once you make your way through it, you’ll be fine. They support you in that class. You have so many questions in your head. After that, it sets you up for success.”
EDLD 5344: School Law was Riddle’s favorite course, although all of the curriculum is relevant to Riddle’s career.
“Most people don’t love that one, but I did,” she said. “I loved all of the educational technology courses because they were geared toward creating. In one, we created a website similar to a digital portfolio for ourselves. That was something I found very useful and something that I continued to keep up with after the program. All of the educational technology classes were useful and had real-world applications to them.”
Riddle had such a positive experience in the Lamar University online M.Ed. in Educational Technology program that she has regularly recruited potential students among her friends and colleagues.
“I recommended it to a friend of mine who was a teacher 20 years ago,” she said. “She owned a business for 20 years and went back into education and wants to get her master’s degree. I sent her a link and said, ‘This is the one you have to do.’ Another friend of mine went to Lamar University, but she didn’t get the principal certification, so I told her, ‘Go back to Lamar University and get your principal certification.'”
Even though Riddle now only teaches when the district is shorthanded, she loves what she does and is glad she decided to try something different and earn a master’s degree.
“I have my dream job now,” she said. “I would consider being a director of curriculum and instruction eventually, but I love what I am doing. The Lamar University M.Ed. program was perfect.”
Learn more about the Lamar University online M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership program.