Mom on a Mission: Balancing a Family, Career, and Education

Posted: June 19, 2017 8:00:00 AM CDT

Katy CooksleyKaty Cooksley knows the importance of a routine. It’s a necessity for her to keep a balance, not only for her daughter and 25 kids who refer to her as Mrs. Cooksley in her fifth grade classroom, but also for herself as an online graduate student.

Cooksley knew early on that teaching was her calling. She loved her elementary school teachers and felt compelled to impact children the same way her teachers had impacted her. It was an easy decision to pursue elementary teaching at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where she received her undergraduate degree in 2011. After getting married and obtaining her first teaching position as a fifth grade teacher at Lexington Public Schools, Cooksley decided it was time to further her education.

“I wanted to pursue my master’s degree for two reasons,” she said. “One, I enjoy learning new things and going to school. Two, teaching is a field where things are constantly changing, and I wanted to learn new strategies and techniques from professors at a well-known teaching college.”

She applied to the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK), beginning the online Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Elementary Education. While she completes the majority of her coursework during her summer break, she also takes one course each fall and spring. Cooksley credits the online format for allowing her the flexibility to accommodate her busy lifestyle.

“I find it manageable while teaching full time,” Cooksley said. “I like implementing the strategies into my lesson plans as we learn them in class.”

As her career and education moved forward, so did her personal life. Cooksley and her husband, Kelly, were expecting. She quickly learned that juggling a career, education, and new family required a schedule and routine. Throughout her education, Cooksley’s most common worry was not feeling like she was being the best version of herself in each aspect of her life. Her advice to other parents about how to balance it all:

“Just take it day by day, and know that you are doing the best you can to make a good life,” she said.

This year is one of change for Cooksley, as she will relocate her family to Broken Bow, Nebraska, and commute to Callaway to teach sixth grade at Callaway Public Schools. It’s also a year of accomplishment—Cooksley will graduate in December with her master’s degree. Being a role model for her students, as her teachers once were for her, Cooksley also hopes to inspire her own children.

“A full-time job, a family, and completing a master’s degree will be something I can look back on and be proud that I accomplished,” she said. “I want my daughter to know that working hard is important. The easy road may be the most tempting, but the reward you feel when you complete the task is what makes the hard road worth it.”

It’s key advice from someone who’s shaping young minds while enhancing her own.

Start an online degree that will impact those around you. Learn more about the Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction or view all available online programs through UNK eCampus.

By: Alyssa Wyant

Category: eCampus, General

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