Graduate Spotlight: Valerie Bartel ’07 & ’10

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Meet Valerie! A Towson University graduate, Valerie earned her B.S. in Early Education/Special Education in 2007 and her M.Ed. in Elementary Education in 2010. Hear about her experiences at USG and see what she is up to now.

Starting from when you began your program at USG, what steps did you take to get to where you are today in your career?

I enrolled in Towson University’s Early Education/Special Education (EESE) program at USG in 2005. While taking classes at USG I was involved in many different organizations including the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) the International Honor Society in Education and the USG Social Events Committee. Throughout my studies, I worked at KinderCare as a preschool teacher and I had several student-teaching internships. My most significant internship was at Strathmore Elementary School, where I got the chance to take on the role as a general education teacher and a special educator. Once I graduated, I was hired by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) as a full-time Special Educator at Goshen Elementary School. I worked there for six years, and during that time I also completed my first Master’s degree in Elementary Education through Towson at USG. In that time I also got married and had two beautiful children. Once I had my second child, I went to part-time as a Special Educator at Damascus Elementary School, and part-time as an Assistant Children’s Ministry Director my church. I will be graduating in May, with my second Master’s degree in Human Services through Liberty University. I hope to use this degree for my ministry work within my church and for doing outreach programs.

What do you do at your current job?

As a Special Educator, I wear many different hats. I am first and foremost a teacher, but I am also a counselor, a disciplinarian and yes, at times, a data collector. Throughout my day I work with a variety of students, specifically in Mathematics, Reading and Writing. I am also part of an educational team and we help identify students who may need interventions and/or we suspect has a disability. In addition, I complete educational assessments on children to determine their present academic levels when compared to their peers. I love working with children and feel good knowing that I am making a difference in their lives.

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How did your time at USG prepare you for your career?

I really enjoyed my time at USG, it was a great environment academically and socially. The EESE program was very challenging, but it prepared me well for the real-world of teaching. The courses I took on assistive technology, adaptations, assessments, differentiation, elementary content areas, have all been ones I have been able to apply in my career. My professors and supervisors also played a key role in preparing me for a teaching career. Throughout my student-teaching internships, my professors and supervisors were also instrumental in helping me prepare my lesson-plans and providing me with constructive feedback. In addition, I was also very involved in the campus life during my time at USG. I was able to strengthen my leadership skills as President of Council for Exceptional Children, Vice President of Kappa Delta Pi, and a committee member of the USG Social Events Committee. All of these experiences truly helped me gain the confidence I needed to become the teacher I am today.

What was your most memorable experience at USG?

My most memorable experience at USG was going to the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) annual conventions, in both my junior and senior year. My junior year, a few classmates and I raised money to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah where we assisted our supervisor in a presentation on implementing reading strategies to help students with learning difficulties succeed. In my senior year, I received an all-expenses paid trip to the CEC convention in Kentucky, where I was awarded the “National CEC Student of the Year.” It was such an honor to receive this award and it truly is my most memorable experience at USG.

In 140 characters or less, what message would you give to future graduates?

Take advantage of new opportunities & never stop learning new skills. Your time at USG will go fast but the memories will last forever.

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