Two Rectory Teachers Get New Degrees

Did you know that teachers can sometimes be students? All teachers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but many continue their education by studying for a master’s degree or even a doctorate. This year Mrs. Wiegel and Mrs. Stewart went to school to achieve their higher-education degrees.

Mrs. Wiegel attended Sacred Heart University in Griswold, CT, in the Isabelle Farrington College of Education to finish her Master of Arts in Teaching degree. She started in the summer of 2015 and finished it this year, May of 2019. She already had two bachelors’ degrees: a Bachelor of Science in education; and a Bachelor of Arts in music (with a focus on clarinet).

Mrs. Wiegel is Rectory’s Orchestra Director.
Mrs. Stewart works in Rectory’s Technology Department.













Mrs. Stewart just completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies and communications from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). She started her degree at Roger Williams University and finished it at SNHU. She has been working on it since June of 2017, and she just finished her degree this year in February, the very same week her first baby was born, a sweet little girl named Teagan. (See attached photo.)

Mrs. Stewart added, “ I took a rather ‘untraditional’ route to finish my degree. I started right out of high school in 2011 and switched my major a few times. I started this program (general studies and communications) in June of 2017, and I took a full course load while also working fulltime. I had to write four papers the week my little girl was born so I could finish, but it’s finally done!”

Mrs. Stewart and her daughter Teagan who was born the same week she completed her Bachelor’s degree.


The DiRectory asked the two graduates a few more questions about their new degrees.

The DiRectory: What are some classes you had to take to get this degree?

Mrs. Wiegel: I had to take a lot of classes for my degree, but not as many as I had to take for both of my bachelor degrees! Some of the classes I took were: Middle School Literature; The Identification and Evaluation of Students with Disabilities; Human Growth and Adolescent Development; Societal Issues in Adolescence; Multicultural Education; Creativity of the Gifted and Talented; Methods of Teaching and Evaluating Writing; Programming and Educational Planning of Students with Disabilities; and Adult TESOL Methods. After all of that, I had to write tons and tons of papers! One of the requirements you have to complete in order to gain your master’s degree is either to pass a test or to write a big, big paper. I wrote a lot of papers, but the two papers that got me to graduation (and got me an award) were my papers on “Sea Shanteying in New England” and “Informal Learning Practices and Popular Music in a School Setting.” That paper got me the Master’s Project Award of 2019, and it was announced during my graduation ceremony!

Mrs. Stewart: I took a wide range of classes for this degree. A large part of my degree was dance and theater courses that I took at Roger Williams and Eastern Connecticut State University before switching majors.

The DiRectory: What was your favorite class, and what did you like about it?

Mrs. Wiegel: That’s a tough question! I love learning and I always have, but I didn’t get really good at being a student until I was in college, when my professors challenged me to learn more and to speak my mind! Of all the classes I took, the two classes I took about “students with disabilities” were my favorite ones because they inspired me to want to do more in that capacity. As I said above, I have degrees in education, music, and teaching, and while I love music, I love helping all students even more. Those two classes gave me more tools to help my students learn and taught me how to advocate for them.

Mrs. Stewart: I really enjoyed most of my classes! I would have to say my favorite would be sign language. Sign language is so special to learn because you can communicate with an entire community that is closed off to everyone else. People who speak different languages can always learn a new language to communicate with those around them. Someone who is deaf may only have the ability to communicate through sign language. These courses opened a new love for me that I never knew was there, and I think everyone should learn sign language!

The DiRectory: Will this degree help to advance your career, and, if so, how?

Mrs. Weigel: Absolutely! One requirement a lot of people don’t know about is that in the State of Connecticut if you are a state-certified teacher (I am!) you have to complete a master’s degree. Now that I have finished my Master of Arts degree, the State of Connecticut now considers me a Professional Level Teacher, and that’s the highest you can go! I also finished my second certification in Adult TESOL, which is fancy talk that means I can teach adults English as a Second Language. (That requires a certification too!) Another option I’ll be able to do now is become a college professor if I want to or even consider pursuing more paths in teaching that I might not have considered before. I can help more in Special Education Learning, English Language, Differentiation, you name it! This degree will help me make more of an impact in schools, wherever I am!

Mrs. Stewart: Absolutely! Although it took a while, I learned so much. I took such a wide range of classes that I gained insight into so many different fields and learned so much. I plan to narrow my studies for my master’s degree and focus on one path, but I loved that my bachelor’s allowed me to take so many different classes.

As you can see, teachers never stop learning. This sets a good example for their students by letting them know that we can all learn new skills to help us become more effective in our current positions. Learning engages your mind and keeps it sharp. It exposes you to new ideas and new perspectives. And learning is fun, too. What have you learned lately?