Taking the local path toward success
After starting college at a small, liberal arts school in Ohio, Mary Ortman wanted to find a more affordable option for her education.
Enter her hometown institution, Missouri State University.
“I moved back here because it was going to be a lot cheaper (to go to school at MSU), so I loved it,” she said. “I loved being a part of studies and going to classes and learning things and having the professors really care about you.”
And the outcome?
Four years after transferring to MSU, Ortman had earned her bachelor’s degree (special education/cross categorical), her master’s degree (special education – autism spectrum disorder emphasis) and landed a teaching job in the Springfield (Mo.) R-12 School District.
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A mentor, a relevant educational experience
As an undergraduate and graduate student in the Department of Counseling, Leadership and Special Education (CLSE), Ortman received the guidance and support she needed.
With Dr. Linda Garrison-Kane as her advisor, Ortman conducted research and gave presentations at a handful of national and regional conferences.
- International Conference of Applied Behavior Analysis
- Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders
- Applied Behavior Analysis for Autism Conference
As an undergrad, she presented findings from a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) at a College of Education symposium.
“I had classes with Dr. Garrison-Kane since I think my second or third year here and she really just took me under her wing as far as conferences and data and everything,” Ortman said.
Ortman researched many aspects of special education teaching, including the benefits technology can have on special education students in the classroom. She’s put her degrees to practice in her current job at Ozark Middle School.
From friends and classmates to colleagues
Any person who has job hunted knows the importance of networking and having an “inside” source.
For Ortman, that person was her friend and former classmate, Alex Beckman.
Beckman began teaching at Ozark Middle School in 2011. When a special education teaching position became available in 2015, Beckman reached out to Ortman, who had taught for two years in Springfield.
Ortman and Beckman built a friendship at MSU as classmates, talking about everything and anything in special education.
“We took a couple of classes together and I think we sort of connected with our weirdness,” Ortman said. “And we went to a lot of conferences together and we just hung out at conferences. We both have an interest and passion for special education.”