Alumna Profile: Jenna Thayer, M.M.Ed

“I knew that I wanted to be a chorus teacher from the time I was in the 6th grade. A teacher encouraged me, sent me to an honor choir, and made me feel that I had found something that I could be successful at. I remember thinking, ‘I want to do this forever.’”

After graduating from college with a Bachelor’s in Music Education in 2011, Jenna Thayer accepted her dream job teaching choir at a local middle school. She had always been interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in music education, but was worried about having to commute to school for classes. However, when Thayer discovered the University of Georgia’s online Master’s in Music Education program, she applied right away.

“I’ve known about UGA’s programs for a long time. There was never any other program that I pursued, because I wanted to have a degree from such a prestigious and well known institution,” explains Thayer. “When the online program became available, I knew that it was for me!”

Thayer graduated from the program this past August and uses the lessons she learned in grad school daily. Networking with other music educators in the program gave her plenty of new techniques and strategies to use while teaching.

For people considering joining this program, Thayer advises keeping open lines of communication with professors and fellow students. She kept in touch via email and video conferencing. Discussion boards helped her bond with students in her cohort as they bounced ideas off each other and shared learning techniques.

“It was nice to have someone to lean on for support, who understood exactly where you were,” says Thayer.

Thayer chose to pursue her Master’s degree because of her love of teaching. She wanted to grow and learn as a chorus teacher and to have a “bag of tricks” to pull from to help her students. Thoughts of her own students also helped Thayer to push through the tough times.

“For online programs, you have to be self motivated. Teaching in a full-time program, fulfilling a personal life with responsibilities, and completing work for UGA is not for the faint of heart,” she says. “I always tell my students to chase their dreams, work hard and never give up. What kind of example would I set for them if I were to give up on myself in the middle of the program? I was motivated because I want to be someone that they can be proud of, and that they can look up to.”