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February 20, 2020

MAEd grad uses degree to advise education institutions

Consulting for a Better Future

Michael Young ’14 MAEd left the elementary classroom just a year after earning his graduate degree at Mount Mercy.

He was ready to work with other educators more directly in co-constructing opportunities for advancing teacher practices. Through his research at MMU, he studied the curricular resources used in the elementary classroom. This started him on a journey that now involves a focus on promoting accessibility for all learners and advocating for equitable practices and structures in classrooms and schools.

MMU: Tell us about your background. What led you to teaching?

MY: As a kid, I hated school. I never thought I’d end up working in schools as an adult. I was a Title I kid, and reading was something I always struggled with, but I loved to write. As I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in journalism, I stumbled on a book series that made me fall in love with reading, and I wanted to be a part of this process with kids. From that point on, literacy education became a passion for me.

MMU: What inspired you to get your MAEd?

MY: Honestly, I was first motivated by the pay bump teachers get when they have a master’s degree. However, I didn’t want to enroll in just any program. I wanted to learn something. Some colleagues had mentioned the MMU program, so I looked into it. I loved the focus on literacy. I also enjoyed the flexibility of scheduling around work and the opportunity to pursue my degree while continuing to teach.

I loved the focus on literacy. I also enjoyed the flexibility of scheduling around work and the opportunity to pursue my degree while continuing to teach.

Michael Young '14 MAEd

MMU: Your MAEd led to your PhD. Tell us about your doctoral studies.

Through qualitative data analysis, I’m looking at the effects of school standardization efforts in limiting and orienting the work of teachers in elementary literacy classrooms.

MY: While at MMU, I took a course in language, literacy, and culture. This was an important course in helping me find an area to pursue in my doctoral studies. Since beginning this journey, my studies have included sociocultural and post-structural research into writing development, teacher agency and identity, leadership literacies, school change and standardization, language, power, and discourse. My dissertation research focuses on the narratives elementary teachers construct in coming to know their students as readers and writers. Through qualitative data analysis, I’m looking at the effects of school standardization efforts in limiting and orienting the work of teachers in elementary literacy classrooms.

MMU: What’s your biggest takeaway from your educational journey?

MY: The MAEd program opened doors for me. Since graduating from the program, I’m nearly finished with a PhD and have moved onto leadership positions. The thinking I engaged in at MMU really opened up these opportunities to expand my influence on the educational opportunities for all students.

The thinking I engaged in at MMU really opened up these opportunities to expand my influence on the educational opportunities for all students.

Michael Young '14 MAEd
While at MMU, I decided to participate in another program that other graduate students didn’t do: a spring break abroad experience in England that I’ll never forget. I was with mostly undergraduate students but got the opportunity to visit schools and work with educators in England. I loved it! I made long-lasting connections with people I’m still close to.