Student, M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction, Early Childhood Education Concentration
Background: Most students in the Early Childhood Education program tend to be teachers with ready access to classrooms and students. Not Andrew ‘Andy’ Nebl.
A native of Atlanta, Andy graduated from the University of Georgia with a BA in Geography and has spent the last 20 years as an active duty helicopter pilot and flight instructor in the Army and Coast Guard. He teaches his students not only how to fly but also all the other elements that go into flying such as aerodynamics, weather phenomena, federal aviation regulations, physiology, etc. He enjoys teaching so much that he’s planning to teach as a second career.
Andy lives in Linwood, NJ, which is on the coast just south of Atlantic City, with his spouse and seven-year-old son. His lack of access to traditional classrooms means he sometimes has to test his schoolwork on his own first-grader and/or rely on past student-teaching experiences, but Andy makes it work. He also enjoys spending time with his family, watching college football on Saturdays and being outdoors. Andy is currently completing his fifth class at UTEP in the program and is scheduled to graduate in December 2018.
On his passion for teaching:
I always took pride in my job and felt it was important. I began searching for my next career a couple years ago and determined that I needed to find a field that was just as purposeful in my opinion. I find my own child's development fascinating as well. I have been a flight instructor for a dozen or so years, and I really enjoy teaching and having an impact on people's growth. Also, as a leader, I informally teach a number of other areas such character-building and life skills, and truly enjoy watching my students, co-workers and peers grow. I believe the school teacher occupation will suit my personal and professional goals as my next career.
Why he enrolled in the program:
I completed approximately half of a graduate program in Early Childhood Education at another university, but another military move last summer put me in search of a similar program, leading me to UTEP. I took two online courses as part of my previous program.
A staff member at my former school found this program at UTEP which was similar to the one I was attending. The staff member served as military liaison and found that UTEP was a military-friendly school. He coordinated the transfer of my credits. UTEP agreed to give me credit for 4 out of the 5 classes I had taken.
His experience with online learning:
I couldn’t complete this degree any other way but online. (At the other university) I was pursuing a degree that was mostly classroom-based instruction with a requirement to student-teach in a classroom. I managed my schedule to accommodate weekly night classes and the requisite student-teacher hours, but it was taking its toll on my work schedule. I moved away from the area and was forced to find another school, but I was probably not going to be able to keep up with the rigid schedule due to work demands. I am away from home for long periods now and the online format allows me to budget my time accordingly.
What he plans to do with this degree:
I hope this degree helps me get hired as a teacher and more importantly arms me with enough knowledge to get in the classroom and make an immediate impact as a new teacher. I am not entirely sure which grade I will teach, but am leaning towards the 3rd-5th grade levels or secondary education science curriculum.
What he would say to a prospective online student:
It is a good program for gaining that advanced education degree (and) a great program for getting an advanced education degree if someone is already a teacher; I don’t know if I would recommend this program to a non-teacher unless some type of student-teaching program was added.
I pay out-of-state tuition and it is expensive. Regardless, I would probably enroll again. The transfer process was relatively painless and seamless allowing me to continue taking classes without much delay in obtaining my advanced degree. I have learned a great deal, just wish I had the opportunity to get in the classroom.