Equity a Top Priority for Special Educator
Following her heart, Ann Kingery moved her focus from teaching elementary school children to middle school children with special needs, which led her to pursue her master's in special education from BVU.
Equity and fairness. These two words have had a resounding impact on Ann Kingery—both in her everyday life and her role as a special educator. Kingery, a 2019 graduate of Buena Vista University, says this was her main takeaway during the pursuit of her master’s in special education.
“Dr. Stacey Cole (BVU Adjunct Instructor and Storm Lake Community School District Superintendent) was very instrumental in stressing the importance of equity and fairness in school to me. She taught me to examine my own personal bias. Those two words are engrained in my philosophy; I speak about it a lot,” says Kingery. “It is so important to have equity in our schools and fairness for all students. It’s especially relevant in special education where there are various physical and learning abilities.”
After 22 years as an elementary school teacher, Kingery completed what she calls a 180 from teaching younger students and jumped up to teaching middle school special education.
“Deb Lenhart, BVU Director of Graduate Programs, made a huge impact on me. She was amazing throughout the entire program and helped keep me organized by following up on what class I would be taking next and what books I would need. It made it very easy for me, a busy mom and teacher, to balance.”
“I felt like teaching kids with disabilities was where my heart was at. I enjoy working more with small groups and one-on-one with kids who need the extra help,” says Kingery. “It’s hard to explain, but I just knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
After she had accepted a teaching position at Knoxville Middle School in special education, Kingery was in need of a strategist I endorsement which covers teaching students with mild to moderate disabilities. Unsure of which school would be the best for her, Kingery planned to reach out to a few different institutions before making her decision. Her first call was to BVU where she spoke to Deb Lenhart, Director of Graduate Programs. Lenhart talked through the program with Kingery and ultimately led her to not only pursue an endorsement, but to take the additional classes and graduate with her master’s.
“Deb made a huge impact on me, and I went with my first option and chose BVU. She was amazing throughout the entire program and helped keep me organized by following up on what class I would be taking next and what books I would need. It made it very easy for me, a busy mom and teacher, to balance,” says Kingery.
Being taught by professors with real-world experience was another perk noted by Kingery. She says the resources they shared helped her in the classroom with her students. For the Knoxville resident, the professors’ availability via phone calls, Zoom, or emails was immensely helpful.
“Dr. Lucas Dewitt (BVU’s Special Education Program Director and Assistant Professor of Education) met with me on Zoom to touch base on my capstone research project. I didn’t have to spend hours driving to campus; we could meet right over the computer, which was very convenient,” says Kingery. “All of the professors were available when I needed help or had a question and encouraged me to be a lifelong learner.”
And while affordability didn’t play a factor in her choosing BVU, she was impressed when the University adjusted its pricing and became Online U’s ‘Most Affordable College’ for an online master’s in special education.
“After I had completed my third or fourth class the price dropped to around $750 for a 3-credit hour class. The affordability of the school was a great draw at that point. It’s made me consider taking a few years and returning for a strategist II endorsement which would allow me to teach more students by focusing on behavior and intellectual disabilities,” she says.
While the decision to return to BVU for a second endorsement remains one to be made in the future, one thing can be certain, Kingery will continue to promote equity and fairness in her classroom while being a role model for her students.