Katie Cornine changed more than her address going from teaching in a rural school to a suburban one.
"My current school district encourages teachers to continue their education," she said. "I also wanted to move on the pay scale, and I have always wanted to go back. I wish I would have done it when I was younger, but life happens.
"I was getting down the steps and wouldn't be going down any further, so I needed to move over. That was the biggest reason I went back to school. It worked out well."
So well, in fact, that Cornine completed the online Master of Science in Education in Reading program at Northwest Missouri State University in March 2021.
She teaches second grade at Pettis County R XII School, near Kansas City, Missouri. She and her husband, Brandon, have a daughter, Bella (4), so she had to have the flexibility to return to college.
"The fact that it was all online was the appealing part to me," she said. "I did the reading specialty because I had done a lot of dyslexia training after the mandate in Missouri that helped me decide to go that route."
Online was the clear choice for Cornine who has a busy family life and works full time.
"A lot of people recommended Northwest Missouri," she said. "I saw a lot of good things about the school online. It was also affordable and flexible."
Cornine grew up in central Missouri. She followed in the footsteps of her mother, Barbara Raines, by becoming an educator.
"She was my biggest influence," she said. "I also had a couple of high school teachers who helped mold me into the person that I am."
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Missouri Valley College in 2007, Cornine embarked on her career. She enrolled in the online master's degree program at Northwest 12 years later.
"With each course, I tried to apply something to my second-grade class," she said. "When I took the first course in the program, I rearranged my library. I had it leveled and changed the way it was organized by genre. That was more appealing to my students and easier for them to find books that they liked."
Especially because she worked in a rural district, Multicultural Education for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was Cornine's favorite course in the online MSEd. in Reading curriculum.
"My previous district did not have a lot of diversity," she said. "That course appealed to me because it was an area I could grow in, not only learning about different cultures but also about socioeconomic status. I really enjoyed that class. I learned so much about my students and myself."
Cornine believes that each one of the program courses helped her become a stronger educator with an expanded knowledge base.
"I absolutely got good value out of the program," she said. "I did it in the middle of a pandemic. I still feel like I got a quality education, but one of the classes included field experience. They had to alter the course. Instead of observing leaders in literacy, I interviewed them. I learned so much from that experience."
Show Me State of Mind
With the encouragement of her family and friends, Cornine completed the master's degree program at her own pace.
"They were excited," she said. "My husband was glad when I was done. It was something I always wanted to do. My daughter does her homework on her tablet and worked alongside me. She likes to read now because of it.
"Our family has a camper at Truman Lake. We spend a lot of time at the lake in the summertime and like to go camping. I would take my assignments down there sometimes and work on them on Saturdays."
With a master's degree in reading under her belt, Cornine has her sights set on taking the next logical step in her career.
"Since I have worked in small districts, I would like to become a Title I teacher with my reading degree," she said. "Our district does not have a reading specialist, so the Title I teacher is the leader in reading in the school."
Cornine is glad that she chose Northwest for her return to higher education. She believes the key to success in the program is, fittingly, reading.
"They require you to read the articles and the chapters to give you that background knowledge for the assignments," she said. "We had optional reading in the multi-culture class.
"Not all of those reading went with the assignments, but they help you grow as a leader in literacy. You should push yourself to do your best because that is going to be the quality you get out of the program."
Learn more about Northwest's online MSEd. in Reading program.
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