Paige Benedict, M.Ed. ‘19

What are you doing now that you have graduated from Saint Mike’s?

Since I graduated from SMC in May of 2019, I have switched from teaching in an alternative behavior program to teaching special education for 1st-3rd graders. I just finished the end of my 3rd year at St. Albans City School, and my 1st year as a special educator. I learned a lot, especially this year, and look forward to the years to come!

What made you choose SMC?

When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2012, I started working as a Behavior Interventionist at North Hero Elementary School in the islands of Vermont. I worked at this small but mighty school for 5 years. At the end of my 4th year, I had a discussion with the school’s principal at the time, Joe Restighini, about what I needed to do to grow in my career. I knew I wanted to stay in education. He told me to go and get my license to teach, and after working with students with disabilities for so many years, I knew special education was the right choice for me. After researching the best schools in Vermont to pursue my education, and speaking with other individuals in the field, SMC was brought up again and again. I made an appointment to speak with admissions, and from there, decided to begin my masters work.

Is there a specific experience from SMC you had that really resonates with you to this day?

There are so many to choose from! Since graduating, I have returned several times to speak with undergrad and graduate students. I love it! I hope to pursue this further as a career some day. The instructors were who really made my experience at SMC so special. Amy Knight has been a great influence for me in my teaching, and has given me so much support since graduating. I don’t think I would have made it through writing my licensing portfolio without her. Anne Tewksbury-Frye has stayed in touch with me, and continues to offer encouragement from afar. In fact, following a semester-long assignment, where we had to write a unit, Anne came to my school to participate in the culminating event! It was great to share all of my work with her first hand.

Career-wise, are you exactly where you imagined you’d be, or did things change after graduation?

Since I only graduated from SMC a year ago, I’d like to think I am right where I should for now. I love my school, I love my co-workers, and I am grateful for the opportunities that SMC has given me. When I graduated high school, I went to college for nursing. Although nursing wasn’t the right path for me, it motivated me to find a job that was rewarding. Teaching is it for me! I can’t imagine doing anything else!

What aspects of the MAT program prepared you most for your post-grad success?

Every aspect of the program was fantastic!

Do you have any advice for current students who are thinking about enrolling in the program?

For me, going back to school while working full time was scary. I am getting married this summer, so while I was in school, I didn’t have a family to care for. My classmates who did are true rockstars! My advice would be to not let the workload scare you. Going to class each week was my therapy! I had the opportunity to speak with other adults, from other schools, who were going through the same experiences as I was. I also met some of my closest friends through grad school, and we still stay in touch today. I tell people all the time to GO! Getting my master’s degree solidified my future and I am so thankful for SMC and all the amazing people who supported me along the way.