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Allison Polanski: MAEdL student, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Scholarship Recipient

Allison PolanskiFor Allison Polanski, moving from the boardroom to the classroom was a natural progression.

Polanski, who works as an elementary school Gifted and Talented program teacher in the East Windsor Regional School District in East Windsor, N.J., has always seen education as the right fit for her.

“Originally, I worked as a corporate policy trainer and insurance broker in New York City before deciding to stay home to raise my children,” she explained. “When I returned to the workforce, becoming a teacher made sense since my undergraduate degree was a double major in business and education.”

Now, she works with students in kindergarten through fifth grade in two elementary schools and while she has been teaching for more than 20 years, she’s held this position for the last 10.

“I have always enjoyed working with others and teaching was a wonderful way to realize that,” she explained. “I have worked with adults, while in the corporate sector, and spent many years volunteering.”

As her job responsibilities have continued to develop, Polanski recognized that it was time to consider pursuing her own goal of earning her master’s degree. With the support of her husband, Ben, she began to explore the feasibility and worked toward making her dream a reality. When she found the University online, she knew her goal would be realized through the pursuit of her Master of Arts in Educational Leadership degree.

“I’ve found the curriculum is meaningful and applicable to what I am currently doing in my job, and I feel it has prepared me very well for additional responsibilities as a school administrator,” she explained. “While the online learning environment is different from the traditional classroom, the continued communication with peers through the discussion boards and class lounge created the connections I was looking for. We share thoughts and ideas and, in turn, challenge each other to be better educators and potential school leaders.”

In addition, Polanski appreciates the challenge she’s been dealt when diving into subjects related to educational policy.

“Through the course readings and assignments, I have been challenged to look at the school environment from a variety of perspectives and go beyond the walls of my classroom,” she explained. “I have even come to better understand the laws and legal underpinnings that promote education for the good of all students. I have particularly enjoyed learning about the constitutional considerations guiding educational policy. As a parent of an active-duty military officer, this was of particular interest to me.”

Not only has Polanski benefitted from finding the right match in a master’s degree program, she’s also been awarded a scholarship to assist her financially in reaching her goal.

Polanski was selected as a recipient of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 4277 scholarship that the organization established in 2013.

The scholarship, funded by matching grants from the AFT Local 4277 of Thomas Edison State University and its senior organization, the Council of New Jersey State College Locals, AFT/AFL-CIO, is awarded to New Jersey residents who are active union members and currently enrolled in or seeking enrollment in a graduate program at the University. AFT Local 4277 is comprised of professional staff employees at the institution.

“I knew going in that this program required a somewhat substantial financial commitment, especially since my husband and I are at a time in our lives when retirement is a frequent discussion,” she said. “Receiving this scholarship was instrumental in allowing me to actually realize my dream and complete the degree program in an 18-month timeframe. For this, I am eternally grateful. The scholarship not only helped alleviate some of our financial concerns, it just as importantly reaffirmed the idea that I was really worth the investment.”

For Polanski, the benefits, both in dollars and time, have made her education a worthwhile investment.