Jenny Phelps was only weeks into her first semester of classes to become a physician assistant when she realized it wasn’t the right career for her.
While her husband earned his physical therapy degree, Jenny worked various jobs, including at a credit union, for an insurance company and as a paraprofessional at an elementary school. She also went back to school to receive her associate’s degree in ultrasound.
But Jenny had the desire to teach. She even considered teaching ultrasound. “I just didn’t know really what avenue I was going to teach,” she said.
Jenny returned to the classroom as a special education paraprofessional at Elkhorn High School. A year in, her husband encouraged her to go back to school for her teaching certificate. “That was just confirmation that I wanted to be in this kind of environment,” she said.
Jenny enrolled in College of Saint Mary’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, which is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education.
“I liked the in-person aspect of it while still being able to work while doing the program,” she said. The MAT program includes online and on-campus classes and meets on Saturdays. “I wanted face-to-face. If I’m going to learn a new skill, I want to have face-to-face interaction with professors to learn that skill.”
Jenny appreciates the background her professors bring to the classroom each week. “They’re bringing real-life experience,” she said. “They know what’s actually happening in the classroom.”
Jenny, 42, has a bachelor’s degree in biology. It bothered the Omaha woman that she wasn’t directly using her degree. “I graduated in 2003 with my bachelor’s, but I still remember the content I learned and can use it today.”
In August, Jenny began her education career as a biology teacher at Elkhorn South High School. She now has a career she enjoys. “It’s fulfilling,” she said.
Jenny graduated Dec. 17 from CSM.
By Leeanna Ellis