Miranda’s first career was as an adult reference librarian at a public library, and after ten years, she was ready for a change. Teaching had "always appealed" to her, and for a year she thought about, talked about, and researched transition to teaching programs before starting Taylor’s program in the fall of 2009.
Why Taylor? Simply stated – "convenience". Miranda continues: "Taylor is an excellent school, and they were the only ones who had their program online. That was the major factor." Her full-time work schedule ruled out programs in which classes met in person, whereas Taylor’s online classes "worked out perfectly" for her.
She earned her undergraduate degree in history 13 years ago, so going back to school was "a huge adjustment." Miranda managed to balance working full-time, marriage, and taking two or three classes at a time. Depending on her husband’s work schedule, Miranda would spend anywhere from 1 to 5 hours working on assignments in the evenings. In her words, "It was just me finding my own balance."
The independent format of the classes gave her the flexibility to set her own schedule, and Miranda "loved it. I really did." She does strongly recommend "setting yourself up on a schedule, like a semester. I went through the syllabus and set goals for myself to finish in two weeks, each module. And that worked really well for me." She continues: "I was working full-time," and to succeed you have to "stay focused, and keep to your schedule."
Throughout the program, her husband was her main source of support, and she also found encouragement from her professors. In her words, "I thought all of the professors were great." The professor of the class Miranda dreaded (Mathematics in the Elementary Classroom) actually made the biggest impact: "She was great! I loved her. She worked with me on any questions I had, and it went so much better than I thought it would." Miranda also describes this professor as "encouraging, helpful, and knowledgeable."
Miranda also appreciated how professors incorporated faith into the classes: "I really liked that because it made me be reflective and think a lot about what I was doing and my purpose in everything. It helped me out a lot because I had a lot of self doubt." She continues, "It helped keep me focused on what I was doing, grounded."
She worked full-time right up to her student teaching experience, which was in the spring of 2011. Miranda appreciated all of the classroom experiences throughout the program saying, "That was great because it forced me out of my comfort zone. I got to make new connections, new friends, and got new experiences."
After receiving her teaching license – a "very painless, very quick, and very easy" process – Miranda began to search for teaching jobs. She had always envisioned herself in a second grade classroom, but when a position as an elementary school librarian became available – she "jumped at it" and got the job.
She’s the first to appreciate the irony in this “career change” – from one library to another, but she’s "happy with it." Why? "I get to have all 500 and some kids" in the elementary school. Her lessons center on library skills – how to use call numbers, identifying parts of a book, book care, and reading stories.
Miranda is conflicted as to whether she’ll pursue teaching in a classroom versus the library in the future. Because she enjoys connecting with the students over books: "I really enjoy the kids. I like talking to them about what books they are reading, getting their opinion on what books I should order — just getting their input on everything. I really enjoy that, and that was something I didn't expect — being able to relate to little kids so much."