Student Spotlight: Elisha Rearick

May 4, 2021

Elisha Rearick is a current student in the M.Ed. in Special Education and Child Development concentration in Academically or Intellectually Gifted program. Currently a talent development teacher in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, she works with gifted and advanced students and their teachers to help provide challenging content for students at a Title I school. Rearick is very passionate about advocacy for under-represented populations in gifted education. In addition to her role as a talent development teacher, she also serves as an instructional coach to four teachers with whom she meets weekly to improve their practice. Rearick loves helping teachers grow in their profession and to use their passion to change the lives of students. Outside of work, Rearick is also a wife and a mother to a silly, curious two-year-old boy named Miles. They love to go for walks, visit the library, and just spend time as a family.  Rearick is a big reader and has written a draft of a children's chapter book that she would love to get published someday. In short, Rearick is a life-long learner and teacher, and hopes to instill a love of learning in her students and her son.

What is your name? What is your title? Would you please tell us about your time with the UNC Charlotte Distance Ed. programs?
My name is Elisha Rearick. I started with the UNC Charlotte Distance Edcuation program in May of 2019, a little under a month after my son was born. I had always loved working with gifted students, and when I saw the opportunity to get my Master's in that very topic while still being able to work and be a mom, I jumped at the chance. Throughout my time in the program, I have gotten to work with incredible professors and passionate students who all are invested in gifted education. I will be graduating with my master's degree in December 2021, and I would love to someday pursue my Ph.D. 
What have you gained from continuing your education?
Through continuing my education, I gained a chance to pursue my passion of working with gifted students and making a difference in their lives. I also have had the chance to work closely with both Dr. Michael Matthews and Dr. Cindy Gilson, who have been fantastic mentors to me as I complete my degree. The knowledge I have gained through my program is directly applicable to the work I do every day, and I love being able to pass along what I have learned to my colleagues.
Is there a particular achievement or contribution that you are most proud of that UNC Charlotte Distance Education helped you accomplish?
One achievement that I am proud of that UNC Charlotte Distance Education helped me accomplish is that I received the Javits-Frasier Scholarship this past year through the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). The Javits-Frasier Scholarship is for educators who are new to the field of gifted education. Participants received a mentor in the field, attended talks by leading experts, and even got to attend the NAGC Conference with the registration fee covered by the scholarship. At the end of the program, each participant completes a project that contributes in some way to the field. For my project, I am hoping to present at this year's NAGC Conference on co-teaching in gifted education. Hopefully I will hear soon if my proposal was accepted!
What do you think other people should know about your path?
One thing that I think others should know about my path is that it is possible to work full time, be a full-time parent, and pursue a master's degree, especially with the format of UNC Charlotte Distance Education's program. I was a little nervous when I started that I was trying to do too much, especially since my son had been born not even a month before the start of classes, but it ended up being very doable. I hope that others who are considering a similar path see that it is possible and still very rewarding. 
Why was the format of distance learning beneficial to you?
The format of distance learning is beneficial to me because I can do my classes from any place at any time. As a parent, I would not be able to just leave my house and attend classes, but I can feed my toddler in my living room while watching a lecture on my laptop. I might not be able to work on assignments during normal business hours, but I can finish writing a paper after my son goes to bed. Distance learning allows me to be fully present as a parent, a teacher, and a student at times that work for me.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Through my program, I have had the opportunity to complete a few independent studies with professors in my department, and this is something I highly recommend to anyone doing distance education who wants just a little more out of the program. Forming positive connections with my professors and getting to work alongside them on the research projects they are conducting has been a great experience, and I have really loved getting to do that as a master's student. I have learned a lot from these experiences, and getting to work individually with my professors has really enhanced my overall experience.