Jennifer Nicole (Estes) Ellis
MA Special Education: Deaf Education
“When we set exciting worth-while goals for ourselves, they work in two ways: We work on them, and they work on us.” ~B. Moawad. My journey into the field of Deaf Education began with the discovery of my first child's hearing loss. Since that time, almost 18 years ago now with 3 daughters two of whom are Deaf, I have faced many challenges and joys. Doors have opened in unexpected places and at times it has taken great courage to walk through the entry way to greet the future that awaits. Shortly after I started the online courses at UNC, Master's in Special Education: Deaf Education Specialist, a new door opened and I was offered my first teaching position at Washington School for the Deaf (our state’s residential school). One of my goals was to work with deaf and hard-of-hearing students but I had expected to complete my course of study first. It has been challenging at times to balance full time teaching, graduate work, and family but my professors at UNC have been extremely supportive yet hold me to high expectations. In doing so, each class has nudged me out of my comfort zone and increased my quality of instruction within my own classroom. The course work is directly applicable and has morphed the lens through which I view teaching. UNC has helped open a door to a career that I absolutely love. It’s exciting to be on this journey knowing I have been equipped with the necessary tools and cutting edge research to make a difference for our future generations as they set sail on their own journeys.
Mary Beth Waller
MA Special Education: Generalist
Prior to starting the UNC Generalist Special Education Program, I was unsure of what my experience there would look like, how I would grow personally and professionally, and whether or not I was making the best choice. Now, looking back, my choice to pursue this program was one of no regret. In fact, it was one of the paramount decisions I have made. Due to the level of support and challenge the professors provided in this program, I am confident in my abilities to pursue a teaching position at any grade level and in any type of special education program. Thanks to the UNC Generalist Special Education Program I am most aware of best practice within the teaching profession. I am not only excited but also prepared to begin to work in collaboration with others to ensure that best practice is implemented in the positions I pursue.
K-12 Sports and Exercise Science
My journey through the physical education program at UNC has not come easily, nor has it come naturally; but it has come with a lot of dedication, experience, and interaction with fellow colleagues and professors. I have taken advantage of the incredible resources I have through my advisors, the UNC faculty, and local P.E. teachers with whom I have had the opportunity to work. It has been a great learning experience, for I have discovered a great deal about myself as an individual, a teacher, a peer, and as a student. As a physical educator, my goal is to create a positive environment for all of my students and to give them the knowledge and resources to live active and healthy lifestyles. Through my involvement in the teaching program, I have obtained rich content and pedagogical knowledge I can apply in my own classes to create an environment which is conducive to each students’ learning style. The program offers amazing opportunities for exposure in the classroom from the very start, all the way through student teaching. These field-based experiences have allowed for incredible growth and for me to develop into a confident and prepared P.E. teacher. I have been blessed to be surrounded by amazing professors and faculty who have such a passion to educate individuals to become effective P.E. teachers. I am proud to have been part of the physical education teaching program and the impact it has had, and will continue to have on my teaching career.
MA Special Education: Gifted and Talented
The Gifted and Talented Program at UNC is a Meaningful Approach. I am an international student, and I am a person who has a great interest in giftedness. I look forward to building my knowledge in this field. The Gifted and Talented Program at the University of Northern Colorado was my selection because I was determined to be part of this school because of its reputation for success, and as an institution at which my culture and interests are considered. As I participate in the program, I have an opportunity to learn from different sources, including well-known faculty, great data bases, observations, and teachings in current gifted student programs. Every single day in this program means discovering myself, exploring new aspects of gifted education, building awareness, and creating a magnificent future, not only for me, but also for my country’s gifted education programs.
K-12 Sports and Exercise Science
My time at UNC was highlighted by being a part of one of the best Physical Education teacher programs in the nation, meeting wonderful people, learning from some of the best teachers in their area, learning to be the best teacher I possibly can, but the one thing which sticks out to me is the relationships. I was able to develop relationships with friends which have lasted to this day and develop relationships with the SES faculty to be able to continue to go to them for advice, support, feedback, and for anything else if it is work or life. I am fortunate to have gone through a quality program which is led by even better people.
Early Childhood Education
The University of Northern Colorado Teaching Program has done far more than teach me the ABCs of teaching- it has given me all the tools and support I could ever need to be a successful teacher and be out there in the real world of education. This program has helped me in realizing my passion for teaching children and supporting my students as individuals with their own unique needs. All of my professors were amazing, going out of their way to help me succeed in every way possible. They became friends. My advisor, Dr. Susan Thompson, was there every step of the way, always willing to answer questions and be a great source of support. I have just finished a very successful semester of student teaching where I was able to walk away with confidence in my teaching skills, new friends, numerous networks created, and a road of success ahead of me, all thanks to UNC and all those who have supported me these past few years. When anyone asks how my experience at UNC was, my answer is always, “Incredible. I could not have received a better education anywhere else.”
Secondary Education: History
Accomplished. While sitting in the center of Nottingham Field in the spring of 2010, that was the unanimous feeling among the crowd. As a single mother of three young children, I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment as well as pride. The University of Northern Colorado had assisted me in making my dream of earning a teaching degree possible. In the four semesters registered in the Student Teacher Education Program, I had received, not only the education needed, but also the inspiration needed to become a great teacher. The professors in the STEP program at UNC are dedicated to creating well prepared educators for our future nation and world. As I walked to the podium to receive my diploma, I knew that I had reached the stars and accomplished my dream.