Teacher strives for higher degree

Joana Neshkova, Reporter

On top of grading, lesson plans and rowdy students, one SHS teacher has decided to take up a new challenge.

“I’m getting my masters in teaching secondary education,” Science teacher Rachel Pearce said, “I know others are going for their administrative license which a lot of teachers will work on.”

Pearce says she’s getting her masters degree in her current field, while other teachers are taking baby steps toward moving up from teaching positions to administrative positions. These teachers usually get hired somewhere as a dean then move up to assistant principal then, finally, principal.

Pearce’s decision to further her education rather than move up the ranks is uncommon since earning a master’s degree in her field holds no monetary benefit. However, Pearce was “grandfathered in” to the program she’s currently enrolled in, a term which essentially means operating under an old rule after a rule change. The old system was that teachers would get paid for how many years they had been teaching and what their level of education was, but that system is no longer in place.

“Right now, if you aren’t grandfathered in, there’s zero financial incentive for a teacher to have their master’s degree,” Pearce said.


With all the time consuming activities that teachers are tasked with, one may wonder how they manage to keep it all in balance.

“Time management is a huge, huge issue,” Pearce said. “Just getting grading done here and writing papers for grad school can be time consuming.”

Pearce says a lot of her weekends and evenings are spent doing chemistry, not relaxing. If she’s not writing papers and doing labs, she’s teaching and grading. Rather than attending a local college, she’s taking online college courses which, according to USA Today, are increasingly popular.

“Traditional colleges still produce most of the bachelor’s degrees in teaching — ASU topped the list with 979 bachelor’s degrees in 2011,” a USA Today article said, “But online schools such as Phoenix and Walden University awarded thousands more master’s degrees than even the top traditional schools, all of which are pushing to offer online coursework. Every one of the top 10 now offers an online education credential.”

Pearce says her students have been very understanding regarding her busy schedule.

“I think that the students probably like it. It makes us (teachers) more human,” Pearce said. “I understand that my class isn’t their whole life, they understand that their class is not my whole life.” Pearce says there’s a lot of compromise on both sides and she’s working hard to stay on top of things with only two weeks left of her classes.