When Sarah Hong received six teaching offers the semester before earning her master’s in elementary education from Ball State, she decided to do a comparison analysis of her prospective employers.
“The main thing I looked at was the management,” says Hong, who believes that management teams—more than students, coworkers, or curriculum—make the working environment.
She turned down one offer because it didn’t look like a long-term solution. Hong said she was determined “to find something I would love to do for a long time.”
Comes Home to Primrose
Ironically, the offer she accepted brought her to an accredited, private preschool, Primrose School, in Naperville, Illinois, her childhood home, just west of Chicago.
Hong was impressed with Primrose’s reading program, and the fact that it was a new school meant she might have a role in growing the school as the new lead prekindergarten teacher.
Hong thinks the master’s degree on her résumé helped her get the interviews. “I think it really stood out among the other résumé and applications,” she says. “Your experience and education help you get the interviews, but you have to get the offers yourself.”
More Than Qualified
At the time of her interviews, Hong held a bachelor’s degree and was just one semester away from finishing her master’s in elementary education with an early childhood education focus. She was more than qualified to teach in the early childhood classroom.
“That seemed to surprise employers because you don’t need a master’s to teach preschool,” she says.
Hong started a master’s degree after earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa’s creative writing program and while working at a daycare.
But after a semester, she transferred to Ball State, noting it was more affordable “on a preschool teacher’s salary even if you’re out of state.” She was also attracted to the fact that Ball State’s program was completely online and only required 30 credit hours. “Many others I looked at required anywhere from 36 to 48 semester hours,” says Hong.
Early Childhood Certificate Was a Plus
One of her career goals is to direct an early childhood program or open a day care center. Ball State’s elementary education degree is ideal because it allows her to earn a graduate certificate in early childhood program administration without having to take additional classes.
“The degree taught me so much about budgeting, staffing, leadership, floor planning,” she says. But her passion for instructing 4- and 5-year-olds came naturally.
As she explains on the Primrose website staff page, “I love working with the youngest of our children because this is the age they genuinely thirst for knowledge, and they love you unconditionally!”
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