When Tracy Pompei needed a graduate degree to continue teaching in Connecticut, she returned to her Texas roots by earning a Master of Education in Digital Learning and Leading from Lamar University’s online program.
“Our world is going digital,” Pompei said. “I originally applied to a couple of different schools, but when I was doing my search online, I came across the digital learning and leading program at Lamar University. When I read the curriculum, the books and the foundation, I immediately knew that was what I wanted, specifically because it covered those two areas.”
Pompei, who is originally from Dallas, graduated from the online program in May 2018. She teaches fifth- and sixth-grade humanities at an intermediate school in Naugatuck, Connecticut. Pompei and her husband, Tom, met in Big D and moved north to escape the brutal heat of Texas summers and to experience the seasons.
“I was in sales at an advertising company when I was in Dallas,” she said. “I moved here and started working with Cox Communications, and I didn’t feel like I was making any difference in the world. I went back and finished my education degrees so I could do something I was proud of and that would leave an imprint.”
Pompei graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and elementary education from Southern Connecticut State University in 2007, the same year she started teaching at Naugatuck. The Pompeis have three children — Myles (22), Thomas Jr. (15) and Layla (12).
“In Connecticut, you have to have your master’s degree within 10 years of starting teaching — that is the law,” she said. “That’s what propelled me to go back to get the master’s degree. It’s not easy being a full-time teacher when you are in a master’s program, but I have a great family that did everything for me. Online was the only way I could have done it.”
Even as a child growing up with five siblings in Dallas, Pompei was drawn to teaching. After transitioning from the business world into teaching, Pompei knew she was right where she should have been all along.
“When I was little, we played school all of the time,” Pompei said. “I was always the teacher. I’ve always been an educator in some way. I’m really happy in the classroom.”
While researching online master’s degree programs, Pompei initially landed on the Lamar University website because she had a couple of friends who were graduates of other M.Ed. programs at the school. The digital learning and leading program immediately jumped out at her.
“Honestly, all of the courses in the curriculum were beneficial,” she said. “I learned a lot. The fact that they integrated all of the technology into the courses, making videos and doing online courses with Schoology and different platforms, was superior. They integrated everything into each course and built each course on the last.”
Pompei especially enjoyed the first course, EDLD 5302: Concepts of Educational Technology, and EDLD 5304: Leading Organizational Change. She was immediately able to apply the knowledge from all of the courses in the program into her classroom after enrolling in November 2016.
“I got more out of the program than I ever expected,” Pompei said. “I feel as though I could teach anything at this point.”
Now that Pompei has a master’s degree and can continue teaching in Connecticut, she looks forward to meeting new challenges in her career, spending more time with her family and doing what she loves most. Pompei believes the digital leading and learning program will continue benefiting her greatly down the road.
“I love to read and write,” she said. “I’m growing into something different, but I do not see myself as an administrator in the current climate. I see myself more on the curriculum writing or curriculum development side or even moving into more of a political writing role.”
Because Pompei lives far from Beaumont and couldn’t take time off from teaching, she was unable to attend graduation. Still, she is proud of following through and earning a master’s degree. She has a sister with a master’s degree and a brother with a doctorate.
“My friends and family are definitely excited for me,” she said. “Earning a master’s degree online was difficult. There were some ups and downs, but my husband did everything and helped me a lot. I spent about 25 hours a week on school.”
Pompei recommends the online M.Ed. in Digital Learning and Leading program to any educator, whether they need a graduate degree to continue teaching or not.
“You have to plan your time,” she said. “Also, get to know the technology that you’ll be using throughout the program. Balance your own self-driven learning with that so you’re not going into a class having to make a video and learning a new platform.
Learn more about the Lamar University online M.Ed. in Digital Learning and Leading program.