Just days before giving birth to twins, Josie Calamari turned in her final exam. Two days after their birth, she received the email confirming she had successfully earned her Master of Education in Reading Education online. “It was like the best week of my life! Babies and my Master’s degree!” Calamari said with a laugh.
That “best week” was the culmination of successfully balancing family and a teaching career while actively pursuing educational and professional goals. “I didn’t have the option of not working, so I needed the online option,” explained Calamari.
With almost a decade of teaching under her belt, Calamari decided to get her Master’s degree to expand her skills. As an experienced teacher at a school in Atlanta designed for dyslexia remediation, she understood the challenges students faced and wanted to position herself to help teachers meet those challenges. The University of Georgia’s Master of Education in Reading Ed online degree program appeared to be the perfect fit. She knew the quality of the education at UGA because that’s where she earned her undergraduate degree in history.
“I’m a little bit of an education snob, and I didn’t want to just go to any school that offered online classes. I wanted it to be reputable. I wanted to be able to say ‘My Master’s is from the University of Georgia,’” she said.
Calamari loved the online aspect of the degree program and how it opened her eyes to online education, which she hadn’t contemplated previously. She also appreciated Professor Donna Alvermann’s “wealth of knowledge” and guidance throughout the program. “She led me to think about new things but also asked me for information on dyslexia,” Calamari said. “I think she cherished all of us students as resources. She found what we were all interested in and asked us about that and valued it.”
Since earning her online degree, Calamari has been able to move into the position she had hoped for, training teachers and raising awareness about dyslexia. “I love my job because as a teacher in a specialized school, I was only reaching ten or so students a year. In training teachers, I am ensuring many more students will receive quality instruction this year and next.”