As a teacher of pregnant and parenting teens, Brandy Chance shows how her master’s degree in Educational Foundations, Policy, and Practice has helped her excel not only as a teacher, but as a leader.
High school social studies teacher Brandy Chance describes her job as anything but a traditional teaching position. She says she’s a leader, a role model, a mentor, and a teacher for teenage girls who need strong women in their lives to look up to.
As a teacher at Florence Crittenton High School in Denver, Chance helps pregnant and parenting teenage mothers to navigate the difficult roads ahead of them – and learn about history and U.S. government along the way.
“I believe that teaching is not my first job,” Chance said. “My first job is being a mentor and a role model and a counselor. I’m a lot of other things, but teaching is just one of the many hats I wear in my job – my first job is really being a mentor.”
While teaching these young parents, Chance helps her students gain an understanding of how policy decisions and changes in educational law will affect their children. It’s part of the reason she chose to obtain her master’s degree with an emphasis in educational foundations, policy, and practice.
The Importance of educating teenage parents
Teenage mothers face unprecedented challenges to their futures. Learn why gaining an education is one of the most crucial steps these mothers can take to improving the lives of their children and themselves.
- Fewer than four in 10 teen mothers earn a diploma by age 18
- 30% of female teenage dropouts cited pregnancy as the reason
- Children of teen mother dropouts are more likely to drop out of school themselves
Source:National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
“I’m a big policy nerd,” Chance admits. “I teach government, so for me, that was a really good match. It allowed me to combine the two things I like the most.”
Chance’s master’s program gave her a look at the historical and educational foundations in the United States, and allowed her to conduct research and chart the progress of educational reforms in the country. Because new policy changes constantly shift the landscape of education, especially recently, Chance says her master’s has been extremely helpful in her career.
“I think understanding what’s going on in the bigger picture of education has really helped me, because our school has been on watch and has been in a difficult place,” Chance said. “It’s been helpful for me to understand what’s going on at the district level, the state level, and the national level.”
Some of those “bigger picture” policy decisions include new models for teacher pay, raises, and curriculum guides. But Chance feels prepared to tackle these new adjustments and changes in education because of her studies in educational policy. Educational policy is a constantly evolving field, and Chance understands where these policies evolved from.
“The degree really did help me, because I’ve felt like I really have a good grasp on what’s going on, and these weren’t just passing ‘flavor of the month’ programs,” she said. “It’s something that’s really sticking around – the greater emphasis on teacher accountability and teacher effectiveness. I feel like I’m a couple of steps ahead of the teachers that haven’t gotten the same background that I have.”
Chance’s advanced degree has also allowed her to take on more of a leadership role at her school. As a teacher leader, Chance helps her fellow teachers break down and understand some of the new policy changes in education that occur every year. Chance helps to oversee curriculum changes, coordinates professional development, and serves as an instructional coach to other teachers.
“It’s actually been pretty interesting, because the other teachers come to me to ask questions about things that are going on that they want to understand better,” Chance said.
Chance believes that one particularly beneficial class on educational psychology has helped her as a teacher leader. Educational psychology examines how students learn, and what it is about a lesson that sparks a student’s interest.
Chance had the opportunity to serve on several teacher teams to help write the curriculum for social studies in the Denver school district. With her knowledge of education psychology, she was able to ask questions such as, “If this is how students learn, why are we writing the curriculum in this different way?” With a better understanding of student learning styles, Chance was able to tweak curriculum to bring it more in line with how her kids learn.
Because her students are not traditional students, Chance helps them navigate the educational world, in addition to helping prepare them to navigate it with their children.
Often, these teenage mothers are unaware of policy changes in education that will affect them, and Chance must inform them of new options or new resources. For example, Chance said most mothers have no idea that they have the ability to choose which school their children may go to. In Denver, mothers have the ability for school choice.
“As a teacher, I’m on the front line,” she said. “I’m the one that has to direct them to the resource people. I’m the go-to girl.”
Seeing her students grow and face their challenging road ahead of them is the most rewarding aspect of Chance’s career.
“I love watching them blossom and I know I love watching them gain confidence in their abilities, and knowing that I’m helping them do that,” she said. “And along the way, if some of them pick up a love of history or love of government I’m pretty darn happy – which quite a few of them actually end up doing.”