Elizabeth Moreland celebrated her last birthday in style.
The Adair, Iowa, native walked the graduation stage after completing the online Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership program at Northwest Missouri State University on Dec. 13, 2019.
“I was debating whether or not to go, but I am so glad that I went,” she said. “It was definitely a birthday for the books that I will always remember. My husband, kids and parents came. It was awesome to see them in the crowd. I kind of got emotional.”
Northwest also provided a live link to the commencement ceremony so Moreland’s co-workers at the Adair-Casey Community School District could share in her big day.
“They watched [with] the link, and I got a video of them watching it and cheering for me while I walked across the stage,” she said. “That was cool, too. I felt very supported.”
Moreland is in her ninth year at Adair-Casey Elementary and the Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center Junior High School. She completed the online MSEd. in Educational Leadership program in just 12 months.
“I am currently an instructional coach in my district, which is a leadership position,” she said. “This degree could help me in my current role, as well as open the door to new job opportunities.”
Taking courses in an online format was the only way that Moreland could return to college for a master’s. She and her husband, Cody, have two children — Toby (6) and Alice (3). Plus, she does volunteer work and raises cattle. Toward the end of the program, she and Cody also completed the process for becoming licensed for foster care.
“The flexibility of the online [courses] worked well with our schedule,” she said. “It made it manageable. I also liked the fact that I could take one or two classes at a time. I took one class to start. After that, I took two until the last term, when I only had to take one. I spent six to 10 hours a week on school when I had two classes.”
Answering the Bell
Moreland was intent on becoming a teacher long before she had to walk down a career path.
“Ever since I was little, I had a chalkboard,” she said. “I can remember setting up the dolls at home or taking my chalkboard to the barn to teach the cats. I always wanted to be a teacher. I like helping people and children.”
So, Moreland graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a special education endorsement from Buena Vista University in 2011. Two years later, she earned a reading endorsement from Morningside College.
“Right now, I do a little bit of everything in my role,” she said. “I would like to be more specialized into one area — potentially something with data or reading.”
Once Moreland decided to earn a master’s degree, she did extensive research and was intrigued by Northwest. One of her co-workers, Cody Matthewson, also recommended the program.
“I knew Northwest had a good reputation, because I work with some people who went to school there,” she said. “When I was looking, it was the only all-online educational leadership program I found.
“Cody was in the educational leadership program at the time I was looking. Talking to him and hearing that he thought it was going well and seeing how it went for him helped me make that decision, too.”
EDUC 61665: School Law was Moreland’s favorite course in the online MSEd. in Educational Leadership curriculum.
“That was the one course I was originally dreading,” she said. “I had heard a lot of the things in School Law that we do or don’t do at my school, but I never knew the ‘why’ behind it. I enjoyed learning the ‘why’ and hearing the different examples of stories that went with the different laws and cases.”
Moreland had a lot of help from her family, friends and co-workers while she went through the master’s degree program.
“They were all very supportive,” she said. “They believed in me and that I could do it, and they were excited for me. My husband was especially supportive with the schedule. When I needed time to do homework, he took care of the kids or helped around the house to make it manageable for me.”
From the time that Moreland enrolled in the master’s degree program, she has reaped the benefits of expanding her higher education.
“I have been able to use the leadership skills in my current position,” she said. “The initiatives we are doing in our district applied directly to the things I was learning in class. I could learn about it one day and apply it the next day in the classroom.”
Moreland believes the online MSEd. in Educational Leadership is ideal for any teacher looking to prepare for a leadership role.
“I would say go for it,” she said. “It’s very manageable and flexible for schedules. The professors are great. Everything you learn would be applicable to the classroom.”
Moreland enjoyed having commencement day coincide with her birthday, and she knows that she improved her skills by earning an educational leadership degree.
“There was a little bit of every aspect of education, from observations to budgets and finances. I can be a better leader because of the program,” she said. “I got good value out of it.”
Hopefully, she also got two cakes.
Learn more about Northwest’s online MSEd. in Educational Leadership program.