MS in special education grad creates unique learning opportunities for all students
March 02, 2020
March 02, 2020
Figmic is a math teacher and softball coach at West Haven High School. She has taught a variety of levels and reminds us that all kids in all levels struggle at some point in their academic career.
Although the online MS in Special Education focuses on special education, Figmic found that she uses certain strategies she learned in the program to communicate and connect with students and athletes who are not identified as special education students.
"Quinnipiac’s education programs have made me a better teacher," said Figmic.
The online MS in Special Education program has helped her become more proactive in the role of guiding students through the social and academic challenges adolescents face. She knows they come hand in hand and, therefore, the lessons must embrace their unique learning styles to create equal learning opportunities. In her classroom, there is room for mistakes. The lesson is how the students react and move forward from those mistakes.
The coursework in Quinnipiac’s special education program gave her the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals in the building to provide the necessary support for her students.
In this program, Figmic learned how to create differentiated learning opportunities that foster each child’s unique abilities. The coursework also provided her with a strong fundamental knowledge of IDEA, special education law and ethics.
With this sound foundation, Figmic is cognizant to create a safe environment in her classroom and on the playing field. Figmic uses strategies and theories learned in her education classes to work with her athletes.
Sometimes communication can be a barrier when working with adolescents. She uses a variety of these skills to understand how to approach players with different learning styles. Figmic has seen the difference and is proud of her team's response.
Figmic creates an environment of understanding, nurturing and acceptance because she has taken the time to appreciate and address the differences in her students and players.
"My players and students directly benefit from what I have learned at QU. I think they appreciate it, too," shared Figmic.
Why did you become a teacher?
I always knew that I wanted to help people. One of my main goals in life is to inspire people to be their best. From a young age, I loved playing school and being the teacher, so it seemed like a natural fit for me.
Was there a teacher that made a big impact on you?
I had two teachers who really inspired me throughout my career. Mrs. Maurao was my third-grade teacher, who took such a quiet, young girl who was really struggling fitting into school under her wing. She taught me how to believe in myself and push myself to be a better person day in and day out. Once I started to believe in myself, I realized how much fun I had in school. I have kept in touch with her all of these years later, and she truly is an inspiration to me. I hope to be even half of the teacher she was to me and touch the lives of my students in a similar way.
Sister Theresa Henry was my high school math teacher. She helped me realize that I wanted to go down the road of mathematics. Math is a hard subject which many people shy away from. I was lucky enough to have her for three years in high school. She was a very strict teacher, who really challenged you to believe in yourself, reach your highest potential and always strive to be better. She did not let you back down from a challenge.
Math is a huge puzzle and she really helped me to be able to put the pieces together. I decided that this was what I wanted to do and help people with, especially because so many people view it as such a challenge.
Why did you decide to get your MS in Special Education?
I really have a knack for struggling students (at least I’d like to think so). I have always had the patience. I was able to work in the Special Education Department at Cheshire High School during my internship and realized that this was something that I enjoyed.
At the time, Quinnipiac didn’t have the MS in Special Education program yet, but I always said I’d come back if they did. I also knew that this would make me a better educator and would help me to be able to reach more of my students in various ways.
Tell me about a favorite professor in the online MS Special Education program. What made them stand out to you?
Professor Falaro is one of my favorite professors in the School of Education. It was in her class that I said I would come back if they had a master’s in special education. I was true to my word and so glad that I came back to pursue this degree.
She inspired me and still does to be a better teacher. She made learning fun and she really got to know all her students in such an understanding and caring way. I will forever be thankful for this and the relationship that I was able to take away from QU.
The message I am giving my students is: I hear you. I understand you.
What is your favorite thing about learning online?
I have such a busy schedule with teaching and coaching, that this allowed me to work at my own pace. I made time to reach out to my professors. I had the conversations I needed to in my own school’s setting to help me learn more. This program made me a curious student and helped me apply my education as I was learning.
In what ways have you implemented what you have learned in the MS in Special Education into your classroom?
I use so many strategies I have learned from QU in my classroom. I was lucky enough to have my own classroom while I was pursuing this degree. I also had two students with autism at the time and I was constantly trying to become a better teacher for them. This program has also helped me work more closely with case managers, guidance counselors, speech pathologists and social workers which I think is extremely important in a school setting.
Would you share a major academic and/or professional achievement? A story of success?
I was lucky enough to obtain the Excellence in Scholarship, Practice and Advocacy award for the Special Education Program at the end of my degree. This is such an honor to me as an educator and someone who is so proud of Quinnipiac and all that it stands for.
Your connection to Quinnipiac runs deep. Your mother is a Quinnipiac graduate and you earned your bachelor’s degree and now two master’s degrees at Quinnipiac. What would you tell someone who is considering coming to Quinnipiac?
I actually told my mom that I was never going here strictly because she was an alumnus. When it became an option for me in my life, she took me on our own tour, and I remember leaving telling her that “this is the place I want to go to.” I remember having that feeling that this was it. It really ended up being that way.
Throughout my ten years at Quinnipiac, I managed a softball career, mathematics education, and two master’s degrees. We became a family. My softball family is now celebrating so many weddings and babies. My MAT family consisted of many math majors. I still see and talk to a lot of my classmates today. They were such an important part of making me into the person and educator that I am today.
I am so thankful that I made the decision to come to Quinnipiac and stay for my graduate degrees. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I don’t think that there is another community out there that would have ever pushed me to become the person that I am today. None of this was easy. It was a challenging course, but I had help around me every single step of the way!
Learn how Quinnipiac's online MS in Special Education program can benefit you.
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