Earning a master’s degree online after being out of college for 10 years is no easy feat, but Laura Graner was up for the challenge.
“It has been a wonderful growing process, some parts painful, but most of it just full-steam learning,” she said. “Overall, I have really appreciated the professionalism and expertise of the professors here at NC State. It has helped me grow so much as an educator.”
Graner, a kindergarten teacher at Green Hope Elementary School in Cary, North Carolina, will graduate this month with an M.Ed. in Elementary Science Education. Her degree has already helped her become a better science teacher for her current students and kindergarten team.
“I volunteered to take over science planning for the team and coordinate our lessons,” Graner said. “The science lessons I developed during my time in the program have been shared with other elementary school kindergarten classrooms through connections made during Virtual Academy Professional Learning Teams (PLTs), too. I look forward to influencing professional development within my school in the future as well.”
She first began considering a graduate program after attending a WCPSS training about Next Generation Science Standards in spring 2020. Graner felt that her science instruction was lacking and needed professional development.
“When I was looking into programs, I remembered some professional development that I experienced through NC State/WCPSS that I really benefited from, so I investigated more into NC State,” she said. “I think the moment I decided for sure was after I Zoomed with Dr. Carrier. She and I hit it off and had a great discussion about my goals as an educator and what the STEM program could offer, among other things.”
Professor Sarah Carrier provided Graner encouragement and motivation throughout her time at NC State.
“Dr. Carrier was my motivation for entering grad school at NC State in the first place,” she said. “I also have to mention Dr. Walkowiak. Her professionalism, expertise and course design were excellent.”
Graner credits the flexibility of the NC State Online program for allowing her to balance working and completing her degree.
“The distance education really helped because I could schedule time throughout the week to work on grad school that didn’t interfere with work,” she said. “I will admit I worked throughout most weekends, too, but during a pandemic it didn’t feel so bad since I couldn’t do much anyway for most of it.”
If other working professionals are considering continuing their education, Graner would encourage them to look into NC State Online programs.
“I would definitely recommend an online program to anyone who is a working professional for the flexibility,” she said.
Graner plans to attend the College of Education ceremony on May 6 at Reynolds Coliseum. Her sister and husband are also planning a graduation party to celebrate her accomplishments.