KOKOMO, Ind. – “If you’re not learning and growing, the world is going to leave you behind.”
This describes Amy Henderson’s passion to keep her nose in the books while asking her students to do the same.
As she works on her master’s in educational technology, she’s reminded of how quickly things can change. All the more reason to keep on learning.
“So much has changed even from when I started teaching. I don’t know if Google classroom was around. Right now, I can’t imagine teaching without it,” she said.
Her path to education was an untraditional one, first earning a degree in communication in 1998 and trying out the corporate world for a while. However, deep down she knew she always wanted to be a teacher.
“My second job after graduation was with ADP, where I worked in software support and training. Here, I’m training payroll clerks on how to use software and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted, which was teaching children,” said Henderson, who returned to IU Kokomo and completed her teaching degree in 2011.
Some may have questioned starting her graduate degree during a global pandemic, while also teaching full time, with students both in her classroom and online. It’s helped keep her from getting burned out.
“Teaching and going to school means I have to really compartmentalize and prioritize my time,” she said.
“It helps me that I know I have this project due for a class, or this assignment, so I need to leave school at school,” she said, a third-grade teacher at Lafayette Park Elementary, Kokomo. “People might think I’m crazy but working on my classes has been a bit of a brain break. It takes me out of teacher mode, and into time for me to learn and grow to be a better teacher.”
Henderson’s students sometimes are surprised when she tells them she hasn’t graded their papers yet, because she had 130 pages to read and a paper to write in just a few days.
“It’s fun to watch their faces, and help them realize schooling doesn’t ever need to end,” she said.
She’s proud to have set an example for her daughters, noting they used to have “homework nights,” in which the girls sat with her and colored or looked at books while studying for her college courses. Her older daughter, Emily, is now an IU Kokomo freshman, and enrolled with 15 credits already earned through the Tomorrow’s Teachers program.
Younger daughter Molly is a senior at Kokomo High School, and plans to major in journalism.
“They both value education, because my husband and I have made it the expectation that you have to do something beyond high school,” she said. “We have raised our girls that learning doesn’t stop once you graduate.”
She’d been considering earning a master’s degree, and said during the COVID-19 pandemic, she had more time to think about that goal.
“I had a goal to get my teaching license before I turned 40, and I did that,” she said. “I missed the boat on earning my master’s before I turned 50, but it was a good time to start. The Master’s in Educational Technology was perfect with everything I’ve been doing virtually, and finding resources.”
Henderson’s next step in her career is to become a technology coach or work for Kokomo’s elementary education technology department.
“I definitely see it as a bridge out of the classroom and into more of a coaching position, whether that’s working with other teachers, families, or a mix of the two.
“I always said if I hit the lottery, I would take a class every semester,” said Henderson, “There are so many options IU Kokomo offers, and if you aren’t learning, you’re kind of stuck.”