Teacher graduating
Ellen Schlich is graduating with a Master of Arts in Teaching from the College of Education's online program. Fall Commencement will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 at the James Brown Arena.

Graduation Week 2021: First grad from AU’s Master of Arts in Teaching online program proud to have found her path

After graduating with a degree in psychology and family and child development from Georgia Southern University, Ellen Schlich thought she wanted a career as a school counselor.

“I originally went to grad school at Augusta University for school counseling and I did a semester in the school counseling program,” Schlich said. “I mean, I loved it, but I realized it just was not for me. The program kept comparing teachers and school counselors and, suddenly, I was like, ‘Wow, I really want to teach.’”

Schlich decided to take a semester off and become a substitute teacher in Richmond County. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the schools closed. There were no longer any substitute teaching positions available, so Schlich decided to apply to Augusta University’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.

“I found out that I was two days late to apply for that spring semester,” Schlich said. “So, I had to make a decision. After the pandemic hit, I decided to move back home to Roswell, Georgia.”

Fortunately for Schlich, Augusta University began offering an online MAT program in the summer of 2020. Schlich was accepted and began earning her MAT degree online while living in Roswell.

“It worked out well that the program was online because I wanted to stay and teach in the Atlanta area,” Schlich said. “So, while I wanted to get my MAT degree at Augusta University, I also wanted to grow my connections here in the Gwinnett County School District. Therefore, the MAT online program at AU was perfect for me. I am super happy with my choice.”

While Schlich will graduate with her MAT degree from Augusta University this fall, she is also currently a third-grade teacher at Peachtree Elementary School in Gwinnett County.

“I absolutely love it,” Schlich said. “I teach all subjects and while we’re still kind of in the midst of a pandemic, it’s a full classroom in a full school. We, as teachers, are now kind of seeing the repercussions of the pandemic and the impact on students, so it’s definitely an interesting year being my first year in teaching. But I love it. It’s nice to have my own room.”

Her mentor teacher and other colleagues at Peachtree Elementary have commended her for facing such a challenging first year and handling everything so well, Schlich said. She believes the professors in the College of Education at Augusta University helped thoroughly prepare her for the classroom.

graduate standing
Ellen Schlich is a third-grade teacher at Peachtree Elementary School in Gwinnett County.

“All of my professors at Augusta University have honestly been amazing,” Schlich said. “And I’m so happy I enrolled in the MAT online program. I don’t think I would’ve done it any other way. It obviously led me to where I’m supposed to be.”

The best aspect of teaching is the fact that every day is different, Schlich said.

“I have always said to myself, even in high school when I had no idea what I wanted to do, that I knew I could never just sit at a desk and do basically the same thing every day,” Schlich said. “I always knew I wanted to work with kids, but I didn’t think I wanted to be a teacher, even though all my teachers and coaches were always saying, ‘You need to be a teacher.’ They were absolutely right. And I found my way thanks to the MAT online program at Augusta University.”

Augusta University’s Fall 2021 Commencement will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 at the James Brown Arena. Watch the ceremony via livestream.
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Written by
Stacey Eidson

Stacey Eidson is Senior News & Communications Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-522-3023 or seidson@augusta.edu.

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Written by Stacey Eidson

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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Students smiling for a photo in front of the James Brown statue downtown.