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Arkansas State University

Katrina Cloird Goes Big With Career Change, Earns A-State MSE Online


As a business major with an emphasis in marketing in a bachelor’s degree program, Katrina Cloird did an internship at Scholastic Academy, a daycare center in Little Rock. The most important lesson she learned was that she was pursuing the wrong career.

“Once the internship duties were over, I worked in the actual daycare part of the business for the remainder of the specified period of time,” she said. “I bonded with the kids. Spending time with them always tugged at me. I thought, ‘I really like teaching. I like business, but maybe I should have explored this career path.'”

Cloird did just that.

She applied for non-traditional licensure, left her banking job and became a teacher in 2010. Three years later, Cloird graduated from the A-State online Master of Science in Education (MSE) in Gifted, Talented, and Creative program.

Cloird taught gifted and talented classes for five years at Chicot Elementary School, in Little Rock, before moving to her current role of instructional specialist for advanced academic services at Dallas Independent School District in 2018.

“I really developed a love for the gifted and talented aspect of teaching,” she said. “That’s when I decided to pursue my master’s degree, which led me to Arkansas State. I was nervous at first, because I was still learning the ropes of teaching.”

However, the online MSE program thoroughly prepared Cloird to teach gifted and talented students while she taught kindergarten at Romine Elementary School in Little Rock. Cloird also benefited greatly from time spent with her mentor, the gifted and talented teacher at Romine at the time.

“It was very manageable,” she said. “I did my teaching during the day. During the night, I logged on and did my online coursework. I worked very closely with Patricia during the entire program. I observed her lessons and she came and observed me.

“A lot of the information allowed me to take my normal coursework to that next level. As I was planning lessons and studying to get my master’s degree, it was helping me become a better teacher.”

Online, Not Alone

Several factors played into Cloird choosing the A-State online MSE in Gifted, Talented, and Creative program to continue her higher education.

“I like the fact that A-State offers an accelerated program that is very affordable,” she said. “I also like the quality of teaching. You don’t feel like it’s online. All of the staff is very personable, and you feel like you know them.”

Cloird, who went through the 100 percent online program, really connected with Dr. Julie Lamb Milligan, A-State’s director of gifted and talented education, who was the professor for several of her courses.

“I developed a personal relationship with her,” she said. “I still feel like I have that relationship, and I don’t think you feel like you know the professors in a lot of other online programs. After I graduated from the program, I ran into Dr. Milligan at an Arkansas Gifted and Talented Conference.

“I walked up to her and introduced myself to her. I thought, ‘I know she’s not going to remember me. It’s an online program, even though we send in our pictures.’ She said, ‘Of course I remember you.’ She gave me a big hug. I said, ‘Wow, this is awesome.'”

ELSE 6433: Creativity, ELSE 5703: Identification, Nature, and Needs of the Gifted, Talented, and Creative and ELSE 5723: Assessment or Programming for Gifted, Talented, and Creative were Cloird’s three favorite courses in the curriculum.

“It was interesting to learn how sometimes you assume that because students are highly intelligent, they don’t have as many needs, but you have to nurture their needs in different ways,” she said. “I also learned how you have to assess students from different populations and different socioeconomic statuses in different ways. Even though I was teaching kindergarten, I could immediately use a lot of the information I was learning.”

Red Wolf Pack

Cloird had a strong support system from her family and friends when she switched careers to teaching and throughout the online MSE program.

“They were happy,” she said. “My family members are big supporters of education. They believe that you should get as much education as you can. My mother went back to school after she had me and pursued her master’s degree, so education was always a big push for her and my father. They were very supportive and very proud of me.”

Cloird, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Henderson State University in 2008, is also grateful to Scholastic Academy owners Shacuna and Chris Jones for providing her with the opportunity to find her true calling as an educator.

“They were nice enough to let me do an internship and work with them,” she said.

Although Cloird is no longer teaching gifted and talented students directly, she feels prepared for any diverging path her career takes in the future with the MSE from A-State.

“The MSE program is awesome,” she said. “It’s definitely a great choice. Just make sure you manage your time. With online programs, you have to pace yourself, since it’s not face-to-face. Make sure you’re determined. I’ve had great success with it. With the things that I learned at A-State, I feel like I can compete with pretty much anybody from any other schools around the nation.”

Learn more about the A-State online MSE in Gifted, Talented, and Creative program.

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