This month’s “What The CV-HEC Is Happening” guest blog is presented by Mrs. Jade Martinez, an English teacher at Sanger West High School in Sunnyside (east Fresno) who earned a master’s degree from National University in December 2022 through CVHEC’s Master’s Upskilling Program. Jade earned her bachelor’s degree at Fresno State in 2020 and began her teaching career at SWHS that fall. Here, she shares her experience fulfilling an academic dream of obtaining a Master’s that has led to teaching dual enrollment courses this fall, the primary objective of the Master’s Upskill Program.
Sanger teacher recounts road to a post-bac degree
and her first dual enrollment class
BY JADE MARTÍNEZ
Dual Enrollment English Teacher
Sanger West High School
I went back to school when my son was two years old and my daughter was six months old, starting at Reedley College. I worked nearly full-time and was a full-time student as well, inspired to be a life-long learner ready for the demands of teaching.
I knew that I wished to complete my Master’s degree in English but soon realized that I would need an additional year or two of prerequisite courses before I could do it. The idea was placed on the backburner, as I needed to focus on becoming a teacher and providing for my family after nearly eight years of building debt.
When I was in my final student-teaching at Sanger West in 2020, my master teacher became our English Language Development curriculum support provider (CSP) so I interviewed for his vacated position. Because of his promotion, I continued working with my students for the whole year rather than one semester. Within a few months of becoming a teacher, I learned about CVHEC Master’s Upskilling Program being offered through Sanger Unified in partnership with National University that would qualify high school teachers to teach dual enrollment courses at their high school campus.
An additional plus was that there would be a specialization in rhetoric attached to this degree, which matched my undergraduate emphasis on composition and rhetoric. I was instantly interested because I already qualified without the additional prerequisites but I was also hesitant since I was still considered an intern with an emergency credential at the time.
After consulting with my mentor and professors, I was ready to take on the challenge.
I began the upskilling program while I worked on induction simultaneously, spending nearly every hour away from work completing assignments for each program. Many mornings I woke up early to complete work before my kids were awake. When I had free time at work, I read various texts for classes and completed mentor logs, professional development, and my individual learning plan. Once I was home, I could afford to take a short break for an hour and had to begin work once more. There were many times when my kids would ask me “Are you done with homework yet, mom?” and unfortunately, I would not be finished until long after they went to sleep for the evening.
Once again, the mom-guilt set in as I tried to see the positives that this program would bring, trying to avoid the voice in my head telling me that I am not a good mother because of all the years of sacrificing time together so that we could be financially stable enough to not struggle anymore. Many days I forced myself to stay strong and keep pushing, knowing that with each completed class I would be closer to the end of my education journey for a while.
I received the news that my thesis was approved right before my 30th birthday. I always told myself that I would graduate college by the time I turned 30 yet I went one step further and completed my master’s as well as having my dream job being a teacher. All of the sacrifices and long hours had finally paid off once that piece of paper was framed and hung on my classroom wall.
A world of opportunities opened in front of me, as I soon became the leader for my professional learning team (PLT) and most recently I was asked to begin the dual enrollment program for English 1A at Sanger West High School.
In August, I received confirmation for that assignment and now this fall I am teaching the dual enrollment course thus achieving the objective CVHEC set with its leadership in this area not only for both high school student advancement to degree or certificate attainment but also for high school teachers seeking professional development.
In just one month, I am enjoying the freedom that teaching dual enrollment provides. Even the challenges we face — that any program in its infancy may experience — are providing a valuable learning episode of its own. But the overall sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing we are forging a path that ultimately helps our students is the motivating inspiration.
And I know that my degree affords many other opportunities such as editing, freelance writing or even becoming a professor at the community college level. I have progressed two unit levels on the payscale and also receive a monthly stipend just for having my postbac degree.
At last, I can fully provide for my family without hardship or struggle!