Although she earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies at CUI, it wasn’t until she was working on her teaching credential that Erika Lopez’s aspirations really began to bloom. She began the program to earn her Multiple Subject teaching credential, while working as a special education paraprofessional for La Habra City School District. Soon, Lopez recognized, “I fell in love with special ed and knew this is where my heart was. I felt so passionate about the field of special education.” It just made sense to change her credential to Mild/Moderate Special Education. So, she talked to her professors, and they did everything they could to make this transition as smooth as possible. "Dr. McKellar was awesome with supporting me in my decision,” Lopez recalls. “She came alongside me and worked with me in adding classes.” Soon, Lopez was on her way toward earning her Special Education credential.
I knew there was no other place I would want to complete my MAED program but Concordia,” remarks Lopez. “The support that is offered from professors is very personal. They genuinely care about their students and truly want to see them succeed.
After completing her credential, enrolling in the Master of Arts in Education (MAED) program at CUI was a no-brainer for Lopez. “I knew there was no other place I would want to complete my MAED program but Concordia,” remarks Lopez. “The support that is offered from professors is very personal. They genuinely care about their students and truly want to see them succeed.” Lopez immediately began the MAED Curriculum and Instruction program, which has proven to be a significant asset to her career, as it has given her skills she needs to collaborate with teachers all over the state. “Hearing about my colleague’s experiences and thoughts really helped to expand my thought process in my career,” says Lopez. “The program has taught me how to work with different kinds of people.”
The relevant skills experience Lopez obtained through the program didn’t end there. All of the assignments and tasks in the program were immediately relevant to her career. “It was awesome that all of the work you were doing in your program could also be used in your classroom simultaneously. It wasn’t double work...What you were learning in the MAED program you were able to apply it in your classroom the next day.” The immediate feedback she got both from her professors and her superiors had a direct impact on her career and advancement.
Erika Lopez teaching her students
What you were learning in the MAED program you were able to apply it in your classroom the next day.
Lopez still teaches for La Habra City School District, where she has been for the past 4 years. She now teaches the autism-specific Special Day Class for K-2nd grade. After earning her MAED from CUI, she became the Active Administrator for the Summer Extended School Year (ESY). She ran the school and worked with teachers and staff to ensure that all students were safe and receiving appropriate services for special education throughout the summer program. “I also worked with coaches to plan curriculum for the summer, and adapted specific curriculum to make appropriate for all students in ESY.” Currently, Lopez is the Administrative Designee for her school.
Lopez attributes much of her current success in her career to the education and personal development she received while going through Concordia’s teacher credential and MAED programs. It was the personal touch in particular that really stands out to her: “Professors were extremely helpful. If you had any type of question, the professors would respond in a very timely manner. Some professors would offer their cell phone numbers and were available for help or clarification when needed,” she recalls. From helping her change her credential, to relevant assignments that could be applied immediately in the classroom, Lopez found a safe and supportive learning environment at CUI.