For many teachers, education continues long after they have received their initial teaching license. For an inside look at the benefits of pursuing a master’s degree in education, we spoke with Allison Melville, who teaches music for grades preschool through eighth grade at Saint Mary School in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. She also teaches eighth grade religion and has a homeroom. Melville was awarded the Heart of the School award by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Melville’s educational background includes a bachelor of arts in music education. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in music education at DePaul University and has a projected graduation date of June 2014. In a typical day, Melville has to teach students from an assortment of grades.

Allison Melville (photo courtesy of Allison Melville)

Allison Melville (photo courtesy of Allison Melville)

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in music education?

“It’s pretty much expected that I need to continue my education. Through the program, I am learning how to be a better teacher and I can incorporate what I’ve learned in my own classroom. For instance, I took a class on culturally responsive teaching in music education, so I decided to incorporate different cultures and languages in a program to reflect the diversity of the community of Saint Mary School.”

What challenges are associated with pursuing a master’s degree?

“For me, it’s definitely time. I have demands at school, and then I have to leave for class. I need to balance work with school.”

How do you keep your skills up to date?

“I can get my continuing education units through DePaul’s program, which helps. I typically attend conferences for music teachers, but I’m not while pursuing my master’s degree due to time.”

Melville also gave advice as to when a teacher should pursue a master’s degree. “I love being a teacher,” she said. “But you should wait to get your master’s degree in education because you need to get an idea of what you are like as a teacher.”

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at

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