At Risk and Alternative Education master’s degree program helping graduate Abbi Hanke

January 26, 2021

For most college students, the week before commencement can be stressful for many reasons. But for many Sabres – including May 2020 graduate Abbi Hanke – those reasons don’t include feeling uncertain about their future.

“I was a week away from graduating and I had already received a job offer to be a teacher,” said Abbi, a cross-categorical middle and high school teacher in the Markesan School District. “Marian had me prepared to take on the challenges I’d be facing in the classroom, so I was just excited and ready to get to work.”

The Advantages Marian University Offers Aspiring Teachers

Abbi grew up in Ripon, Wis., knowing early on that she wanted to be an educator. Originally leaning towards Art, she came to appreciate elementary and middle school education, landing on Marian University because of the lasting impression it left following a tour she took on a field trip.

“I loved that it was so small and that you could actually get to know your classmates – I remain in touch with most of mine even now, and that’s something I’ll always appreciate,” Abbi said. “It was really cool to see everyone grow, and grow together, and Marian really cultivates that sort of learning.”

Another hallmark of the Marian University education program that Abbi benefitted from was its offering of students experiencing clinicals as early as their sophomore year. This allowed her to discover her appreciation for Special Education, which she preferred over her initial Elementary-Middle Education focus.

“Getting into a classroom setting that early really helped me to take everything we were learning at Marian and translate it immediately in a practical setting on either the same or next day,” Abbi said. “I’ve talked to other teachers who didn’t get field experience until they were juniors or seniors, and I’m so fortunate that wasn’t the case for me.”

How Marian University Prepares Aspiring Teachers

Sure, the mock job interviews the Marian University education program offers its students as early as their sophomore year helped Abbi land a job. But once she had it, she not only found Marian had prepared her to excel as a teacher, but to also adapt to circumstances she – nor the experienced faculty she learned from – could have seen coming.

“The Marian curriculum’s emphasis on situational and foundational learning has been really helpful for teaching virtually during the pandemic,” Abbi said. “I had been exposed to GoogleClassroom already as a junior at Marian, so when I had to use it to continue educating students virtually, it wasn’t the struggle it otherwise could’ve been.”

Ongoing Education Marian University Graduates Can Take Advantage Of

Despite her early success, Abbi wants to do even more for a population of students she describes as being misrepresented, misunderstood, and underserved. And to make making a difference possible, she’s turned to Marian University’s 100% online At Risk and Alternative Education master’s degree program.

“It’s a rare program, and I’m really benefitting right now from being able to fit the coursework into either my lunch break or after I’m done with the school day,” Abbi said, noting how amazing it has been to learn from program director and world-renowned educator Dr. Anthony Dallmann-Jones. “I appreciate being able to balance being a student with my career, and the classes are nice because all of my classmates are in the same boat – I’m really looking forward to taking what I learn and using it to take action steps and help these students along the path they need.”

And she’ll be able to do that come December when she graduates, having spent fewer than two years in the program.

And from there, she hopes to one day be a permanent fixture of her school’s lone at-risk classroom, which coincidently enough is conveniently located right next to the one she currently works in.