Embracing an Educational Journey for Online Students

Posted: August 8, 2017 8:00:00 AM CDT

sarah bartling family photoFor Sarah Bartling, students have always been the reason she works in a career she loves every day. Initially planning to teach at the elementary school level, her own educational and professional journey at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) led to her position as an online program coordinator in the Department of Teacher Education - where her excitement for student success in online education is infectious.

Bartling shares how UNK has shaped her educational and career path, and how her journey helps her connect with students in the teaching field.

Q: How did you become interested in teacher education at UNK?

A: I was born and raised in Kearney. My father, Kent Emal, worked for UNK for 41 years in the Department of Communication Disorders, and my mother, Karen, received her degree from Kearney State College in Physical Education. Having both of my parents involved with education and visiting my dad a lot at UNK made an impression on me from a very young age.

I received my Bachelor of Arts in Education, Elementary Education, from UNK in 2008. I had a hard time finding a teaching job close to Kearney, so after a couple of years of gaining professional experience, I decided to look at master’s degree programs to continue growing my educational knowledge. Since I received a great education at UNK for my bachelor’s, I decided to continue with UNK for a master’s. During that time, I was hired by UNK as an Office Associate for the Department of Teacher Education. Right away, I began to realize a shift in my career path and decided that regardless of what age level, I simply enjoyed assisting students along their educational journey and started to take a more in-depth interest in higher education, specifically online education. I completed my Master of Science in Education, Instructional Technology, in 2016 and accepted a new position, my current position, of Teacher Education Online Coordinator shortly after.

Q: What is your role in UNK’s online education programs?

A: I jumped into this role a year ago and serve as the liaison for our current and potential graduate students to manage the many facets of earning a master’s degree. I work with our students from their initial inquiry about a program all the way to their comprehensive exams and graduation day. I try to streamline as much as possible for the students since they are not here on campus. I want them to feel comfortable and successful while working toward their degree.

Q: What approach do you take in helping students?

A: I try to be as open and flexible as possible since the majority of our students already have full-time jobs and are also trying to manage classes, family, etc. While completing my master’s, I was juggling working full time and a new baby, so I can fully understand our students’ potential stressors and I try to simplify as much as possible and ease their minds.

Q: What is the most gratifying part of your job?

A: I am an intrinsically motivated person, so simply hearing from current and former students about their excitement and growth in their classroom or area of work is all I need to stay driven. Knowing that we are making an impact and difference in not only their lives, but also the lives of many students or adults, is so personally rewarding and keeps me passionate about each and every one of our students’ journeys.

UNK offers four online master’s programs in teacher education fields with over 15 concentration or emphasis areas, as well as endorsement opportunities. View a complete list of online program options through UNK Online.

By: Rosanna Vail

Category: General, eCampus, Education

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