Our Students

Student-Professional Feature: Bethany Rataic

In Higher Education, it is not uncommon for students to balance their studies with a full or part-time job. Many students enrolled in the programs of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR) are not only students, but working professionals in the field. The “Student-Professionals” series will highlight these hard-working student-professionals and how they balance their responsibilities.  This feature focuses on a student-professional in the UCAPP program.

Bethany Rataic headshot
Second year UCAPP student and first-grade teacher at Lake Garda Elementary School, Bethany Rataic.

Bethany Rataic, a second year student in University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program, manages her academic work with her day-job in a different type of scholastic setting – as a first grade teacher at Lake Garda Elementary School in Burlington, CT where she has taught for the past 8 years.

She applied to UCAPP for the same reason that she wanted to pursue a career in teaching; because she loves working with kids and wanted to have a positive impact on their educational development. Through the UCAPP program, she is hoping to broaden her perspective and prepare herself to have a greater impact on the lives of more students as an administrator.

Rataic’s current principal, Stefanie Anderson, has been a great mentor and support system in her decision to enter the UCAPP program and pursue her 092 certification. When Rataic first considered this career step she was concerned that it would take her attention away from her classroom, but Anderson reassured her of her ability and reminded her of her mission as an educator – to inspire and empower greater learning in the lives of as many kids as possible.

Balancing a career as an educator with the responsibilities as a student of higher education is a challenge as both demand a large time commitment and mental capacity. Rataic explains that in order not to over dedicate herself to one role or the other, she has to hold herself accountable and continuously look at her priority-setting. As UCAPP is only a 2-year program, it has gone by fast and she wants to ensure that she is getting the most out of all it has to offer without sacrificing her work-quality in the classroom.

Rataic attributes her success as a student-professional to a commitment to her core values. She is dedicated to her goals and sees no other option than to persevere through challenge. In high school, Rataic’s guidance counselor told her that she would never get into UConn. Today, she holds multiple degrees from UConn including a B.A. in Human Development and Family Studies, a B.S. in Elementary Education and a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction in addition to her current enrollment in the UCAPP Program.

Bethany Rataic with her class of students
Bethany Rataic reading to her first grade class.

Rataic has not only taken advantage of opportunities in her career, like studying and working in London as part of her Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s degree, but she’s turned challenges into growth opportunities. She did not get into UConn, the Neag School nor UCAPP in the traditional admissions cycle, but she never let that rejection deter her from her goals. She is determined and quick to ask for feedback, including talking to Richard Gonzales, UCAPP Administrator, concerning the rejection of her application. This initiative and eagerness was recognized, and she was admitted into the program. Her commitment to growth and her end-goal has been a key factor in her success, and an asset as she balances the challenges as a student and a professional.

To other student-professionals, Rataic encourages them to self-reflect and recognize that there are going to be challenges. She explains, “Rely on your support system to help and motivate you, and be confident in your ability to meet these challenges.”

Summer 2018: Issue Briefs

This summer, the Neag School of Education caught up with three doctoral students in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy program regarding their research that were recently released as issue briefs, in connection to the Center for Education Policy Analysis.  Read more on their individual thoughts and recommendations for education:

Samuel J. Kamin writes about Career and Technical Education - Current Trends and Results

Alexandra Lamb discusses How School Districts are Introducing Technology Into Classrooms Through 1:1 Programs

Chelsea Connery examines the Impact of Undocumented Status on Children’s Learning, as well as the implications for schools

CEPA is a research center based at the Neag School that seeks to inform educational leaders and policymakers on issues related to the development, implementation, and consequences of education policies. Learn more about CEPA at cepa.uconn.edu.

Issue Brief: The Impact of Undocumented Status on Children’s Learning

Chelsea Connery ’13 (ED), ’14 MA, a former public school teacher and now a Neag School doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy program, prepared the following issue brief — in affiliation with the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) — about the impact of undocumented status on children’s learning, as well as the implications for schools.

HESA Hosts Annual Assessment Day

On April 26th, HESA hosted its annual Assessment Day, the summation of a two-semester course series (EDLR 5102 and 5103) that gives first-year HESA students the opportunity to develop and hone important skills by conducting group assessment projects in service to the UConn community.  The series constitutes a fundamental element of HESA’s unique core curriculum and commitment to scholarship in practice. This year, students split into four groups and tackled four distinct assessment projects (see table). We spoke with Dr. Christine Wilson, the course instructor, to learn more:

The point of the course is to help the students learn about assessment, evaluation, and research by engaging in a yearlong group assessment project that serves a department or program on campus.  The first semester is dedicated to learning about foundations of assessment and research while completing a literature review for the projects, defining assessment questions, creating methodology, and completing IRB paperwork to assure that research with student participants is conducted legally and ethically.  During the second semester, the students collect and analyze data, present their results and findings during an open presentation day, and complete an assessment paper.

Assessment Day, which takes place at the end of the semester, is a great way for the community to see the work that the students have completed, as well as the contributions of knowledge that they are making to the departments they have served with their projects.  In addition, the students have a chance to present their projects in a formal setting. I have taught this course series three times, and Assessment Day is the highlight of the year.

Congratulations to the students of EDLR 5103 for their successful assessment projects, and the completion of their first year in the UConn HESA program.