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Teaching During the Pandemic: UNG Alum Weighs In


In light of the pandemic, many students find pursuing an education degree to be a daunting task. However, first-year teacher Megan Bumgardner says that although the year has been difficult, it’s been more than worth it.

Bumgardner graduated from the University of North Georgia last May with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education along with a special education certificate.

This fall, she started her first teaching position at Gum Springs Elementary School in second grade.

The toughest part of her job has been getting the students to focus.

“They’re not really used to school because their last normal year was Kindergarten,” she said.

The pandemic has also affected the children academically.

Students in second grade at Gum Springs Elementary School (Photo taken by Karen Sapecky)

“A lot of mine are below grade level,” said Bumgardner. “In reading, for example, they have to be on a level J to be on track, but a lot of mine are on C and D.”

The mask mandate has been another challenge.

“Actually having them put on their mask and keep it on has been a struggle. They play with it. They’ll break it. They’ll do everything but wear it.” – Megan Bumgardner

The 23-year-old’s classes at UNG equipped her for a lot of these challenges, but the biggest help to her career was the time she spent student teaching.

“I’m more hands-on, so I have to do it in-person.”

Bumgardner also raved about her professors on the Gainesville campus.

Dr. Maxwell was a great help in teaching me how to assess reading, said Bumgardner, so I knew how to do that coming in.

She recommends the special education classes on the Gainesville campus as well for those interested.

Her overall advice to aspiring educators is to set healthy boundaries.

“I would say to always set boundaries with work and personal life, and to always leave at a set time,” she said, “because I stay until 6:00 p.m. sometimes, which is awful.”

Though she spends most of her evenings at the school, Bumgardner loves her job, and she can’t see herself doing anything else.

“The best part is being with the kids and seeing what makes them happy,” she said. “It’s fun seeing what they like to do outside of school, getting to know them as a person and just building those relationships.”

Bumgardner with a student (Photo taken by Karen Sapecky)

When asked if getting an education degree is worth it in 2021, Bumgardner’s response was a resounding yes.

“If you like working with kids, you’ll love it,” she said. “When you’re teaching, just be in the moment and create the relationships with your kids, and you’ll have a great year.”














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Teaching During the Pandemic: UNG Alum Weighs In