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May 30, 2014 — For the last three years, Hillary Reisig has been a college student. So, when she needed advice on current trends in education at the post-secondary level, who better to seek advice from than her own high school students?
Reisig learned from her Lander Valley High School (LVHS) language arts and honors language arts students about what to expect in college since she last graduated. She has been a classroom teacher for the last 10 years, and some things have changed.
One of them is how some students have received their degrees from the University of Wyoming without going to class each day on the UW campus.
Reisig was among the first 14 graduates in the new program that allows students to obtain their UW Master of Arts degrees in English without leaving their hometowns. This is Reisig’s second master’s degree.
Two other Lander residents -- Buck Tilton and Charleigh Wolfe -- also participated in the program.
The distance education program is offered by the UW Department of English and the UW Outreach School. Courses are taught using video conferencing technology and hybrid instruction, with a one-week residency in Laramie each summer.
Many of the students teach in Wyoming public schools. Twelve of them marched in the UW College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony Saturday, May 10, in UW’s Indoor Practice Facility.
“The UW outreach master’s English cohort was extremely convenient; I am a full-time teacher, as well as a mother of two, and I would not have been able to pursue this degree if it required the traditional on-site attendance for completion,” Reisig says. “The courses were rigorous and interesting, and the professors were amazing.”
The distance master’s degree program delivers classes to a limited number of students so there is an opportunity for meaningful discussion and interaction among students and faculty, says Susan Frye, Outreach School dean. She says award-winning Department of English faculty members teach the classes.
For a Master of Arts degree in English, each student wrote a master’s thesis directed by a faculty adviser, after completing the required coursework.
“The program’s curriculum offers a wide range of courses that appeal to a variety of interests, while providing a well-rounded background in English studies,” Frye says.
Reisig says the program has helped her improve the way she teaches her LVHS students.
“It has allowed me to bring additional, incredible curriculum into my classes in the form of texts that I would not have been exposed to if I had not pursued this degree,” she adds.
Tilton obtained a job teaching English at Central Wyoming College in Riverton. He is grateful for the opportunity to earn his master’s in English degree without having to leave his community.
“Through compressed video, you can have those exchanges. It’s almost like being in the classroom together,” he says. “The main reason that the outreach program worked for me is that it allowed me to keep working. I have a family and bills to pay. Through outreach, I could do both -- work on my master’s degree and hold down a job.”
A second cohort group will begin the program in June.
More information about the program, including requirements and coursework, can be found by visiting www.uwyo.edu/outreach/ocp/degrees-programs and selecting English, or by calling the Outreach School at 1-800-448-7801.