Testimonial

Samantha McNabb

Samantha McNabb

My name is Samantha McNabb and I am a recent graduate of Barry University’s Master of Science in Reading program. I began my program in the Fall of 2018, and instantly fell in love with my cohort, professors, and the supportive, yet rigorous, academic environment that the university provided.

As a third-grade teacher serving a diverse student population in a low-income rural setting, I was concerned that the demands of juggling my career and graduate school would cause me to burnout. However, the coursework only drove my desire to continue learning and developing professionally.

My professional and personal growth have been extensive, all because of this excellent reading program. I am able to plan reading instruction for my students with much confidence, because I have been equipped with the best tools in literacy instruction. I am eager to share my learnings with other educators and future teachers. I proudly walk with my head held high, knowing that I made the best decision to earn my master’s degree at Barry University.


Amy Downerd

Amy Downerd

My name is Amy Downerd, and I am a recent graduate of the Barry University Cohort Masters of Reading Program. In the fall of 2018, I nervously and excitedly attended my orientation and shortly began my classes.

Since the age of 5, I knew teaching was the career path for me. From pretending to be the teachers to my stuff animals to volunteering in a kindergarten classroom in high school, I knew education and being an educator was a part of God's plan. However, towards the end of earning my bachelor's degree in early childhood education, self-doubt began to set in. I did not complete my degree. I was three credits shy of graduating, had completed my student teaching, and just walked away. Over ten years, I experienced a variety of jobs, but nothing felt like a career. Somehow, I always made my way back to education and working with young children. Realizing education was my true calling led me to return to complete my undergraduate in the spring of 2014 and began teaching first grade in the fall of 2015.

Being an educator and a graduate student allowed me to apply the newly learned strategies and lessons for reading instruction directly into my classroom. Having knowledgeable professors who are experts in literacy education also provided me with the support and guidance necessary to strengthen my teaching and pedagogy.

Deciding to become a full-time student while also teaching full time made me extremely nervous because of my history. I worried that I would be overwhelmed by juggling the course load and my responsibilities as an educator. Those worries quickly dissipated once I met the fellow educators in my cohort. To realize we were on this journey together and had each other to lean on was refreshing. The close-knit and family-like atmosphere fostered within our group has created life-long friendships. We became each other's most prominent cheerleaders, advocates, and sounding boards.

For the five semesters I attended Barry University, I felt challenged and tasked with assignments that stretched my thinking as an educator and teaching professional. During my last semester, our cohort transitioned to an online learning platform due to the Covid-19 National Emergency. This unexpected change challenged me in ways I never imagined, personally, and professionally. The faculty of Barry University and the members of our reading cohort kept me motivated during times of distress and held me accountable. This support was essential during this time of uncertainty when quitting would have just been more effortless.

Without this support, I do not believe I would have completed my Master’s Program. I am forever grateful for the words of encouragement and support. The knowledge and insight gained has reaffirmed my decision to be an educator and my passion for literacy education. After completing my practicum project, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, joy, and accomplishment. These feelings were not just for me, though, but for all the members of our cohort. I want to extend my deepest and most sincere thank you to Dr. Jennie Ricketts-Duncan, for her unwavering support throughout our program. Being honored as one the Adrian Dominican School of Education Outstanding Students is truly an honor.

Humbly and with gratitude.


Shree Bethel-Wheeler

Shree Bethel-Wheeler

As a 2020 graduate student of Barry University’s Reading Program, it is with great enthusiasm, honor, and pleasure to say the “Barry” best is yet to come. My name is Shree Bethel-Wheeler and I began the MS Reading program in the fall of 2018. I yearned to obtain my Reading Endorsement because I was an Intensive Reading teacher and experienced first-hand my students’ lack of literacy skills. I was impelled to succeed and make a difference in the lives of our future generation.

In order for me to be the change and to make a difference, I needed to acquire the knowledge and research-based instructional techniques offered through this program. Under the guidance of Dr. Harris-Looby, and the support of my professors (Dr. Ricketts-Duncan, Dr. Tetreault, Mr. Clarence Walker, and Dr. Demetrius), I learned a wealth of information and instructional strategies that I now apply in my classroom. Education is my second career; my background was in government/education. However, I knew it was my calling to be in the classroom to provide rigor and explore exciting ways to teach my students; this was made possible by attending Barry University.

I have learned so much from my professors and peers; I truly consider it a blessing to have established the relationships and bonds I made with my peers, which I know I will continue to take me where I need to be. I am thankful to God and Barry University for the opportunity to help me to continue to grow and become a better teacher, educating the youth of tomorrow during this unprecedented time. Thank you Barry for making my educational experience a memorable and lasting one.

Blessed, grateful, and with a humble heart.


Sandra Bacallao

Sandra Bacallao

My name is Sandra Bacallao and I am a graduate student in the Barry University Coral Springs Cohort Reading Program. I excitedly began my program in the Fall of 2010 and was quickly reminded of how much work there is to do as a student, besides all of my school work that I take home as a 2nd grade teacher.

As a mother of two college students, I have to admit that I found myself doubting why I started this program and whether or not it would truly be worth it at the end.

I already love my job and, in my moments of exhaustion, felt like I shouldn't have complicated things in my life. On the other hand, I have had such great support and guidance from my professors (Dr. Fischer, Mrs. Kelly Grady, and Dr. Roberts) that I felt invigorated and excited with every new lesson and strategy that I can bring in to my classroom. I am, after all, completing my 16th year as a teacher and realize that there is nothing like a reminder of why I love to teach and how I can bring a new excitement for learning to my students every day as well.

I am honored and proud to say that I was named the Teacher of the Year at St. Bonaventure Catholic School, where I have been teaching for the past 11 years. I think of myself as a woman of faith and always believe that there are no coincidences because God guides our path. I now know that God placed Barry University, my professors, and my classmates in my path for a reason. I know that I have been freshly jumpstarted into my career by my graduate program and am looking forward to every moment that I can continue to learn and grow as an educator.

I wanted to thank you, as my program chair, for unknowingly being a part of the blessings in my life, my professors and advisor, for inspiring me to be my best, and Barry University, for being the foundation for my continued growth and success as an educator for the remainder of my career, which is priceless to me.

Humbly and with gratitude.