World traveler imports music education to earn her master’s
For Betsy Stalter, 33, her passion to teach started at home but matured abroad. She’s traveled to Japan, Nigeria, Brazil and Angola — amassing a robust travel log of cultural experiences and information along the way. But it wasn’t a passport or work visa that granted her access to her most beneficial educational experience to date. It was the Internet. Her journey as a music educator led her to the online Master of Music in music education program at Kent State and changed the course of her career, and her life.
“Initially, I think I was motivated by my mother, who was a teacher (though not a music teacher),” she said. “And I was also inspired greatly by my high school choral director, though at the time I didn’t see her as the miracle worker I see now.”
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Betsy decided to cross the Pacific Ocean to Japan. At the time she had no idea she could teach music abroad, so instead she chose to teach English. She spent three years in Japan before switching continents to teach at a private school in Kaduna, Nigeria.
“I only worked at this school for five months, but it’s possible I learned more at this post than anywhere else. Most of it was what not to do, but it was extremely educational,” she said. “It also opened my eyes to the unique privileges we as Americans hold.”
I now look at the profession with much more knowledge and depth of understanding than I did before which helps in everything I do from collaborating with colleagues to simply planning my lessons/units. — Betsy Stalter
Reconnecting with music
Betsy’s thirst for new experiences in new places next brought her to Porto Alegre, Brazil. She accepted her first music teaching position as an elementary educator at the Pan American School (PAS) of Porto Alegre.
“I was so excited and I loved every minute of it. I got to teach general music, guitar, piano and choir,” she said.
Despite the excitement of teaching music for the first time, Betsy also knew she needed to do some learning of her own.
“I wanted to refresh my skills as a music teacher, because there was quite some time between my B.A. and my first music job. I wanted to move forward in my career and learn more about music education, especially technology, and the best pedagogical practices.”
Learning online from across the world
She enrolled and completed Kent State’s Master of Music in music education online from Brazil during her four-year stint at the PAS school. On-site education wasn’t an option given her job and location, so Kent State’s online program offered her the flexibility, reputation and affordability she needed.
“I loved the experience of completing my capstone. The exercise of designing and aligning the music curriculum at my school was something I would have never taken the time to do, but it was so useful in my career,” she said. “I had to say no to some fun weekend plans, but I was shocked by my capacity to self-motivate and focus. I make more [money] now, which doesn’t hurt, and I’m in a better position to be chosen in a challenging hiring pool.”
A worthwhile decision
Accomplishing her educational goals hasn’t stopped Betsy from continuing to follow her own unique path across the globe. She now teaches at the Luanda International School of Angola as kindergarten through fifth grade music instructor. Never one to shy away from a challenge herself, she’s not reserved about motivating others to pursue their master’s online with Kent State.
Go for it! I’d never used these skills in my teaching before and they are still helping me learn new things in the profession. — Betsy Stalter