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Scholarship Allows Literacy Teacher to Pursue Master’s


March 20, 2017, Update: The Graduate Literacy Cohort Program is accepting applications through May 1 for its new cohort starting in Fall 2017. Accepted students will receive a $2,000 scholarship.


NC State’s Graduate Literacy Cohort Program is targeted for educators interested in a program designed to improve our understanding of struggling and developing readers. Classroom teachers, coaches, special educators, interventionists, and administrators are encouraged to apply. Participants must hold an initial teaching license to be a part of the cohort.

With the application deadline right around the corner, May 1, we want to take the opportunity to highlight this program by spotlighting one of its students. We talked to Mary-Lynn Kebker, ’17, who is currently teaching fourth grade at Leesville Road Elementary.

Why did you pursue going back to school for the Graduate Literacy Cohort Program and why did you choose NC State? 

I decided to apply for the Graduate Literacy Cohort Program for several reasons. Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that I have a growing passion for teaching literacy. I also felt like teaching reading was becoming a strength of mine within the classroom. By completing this graduate-level program, I will continue to develop my skills as a literacy teacher by adding new strategies to my teaching repertoire. Additionally, earning this degree will give me opportunities to further my career as an educator. It provides me with options within the education career field, should I choose to leave the classroom. This degree would allow me to become a literacy coach, an instructional resource teacher, or even to become a literacy curriculum writer. Having options within your career is always beneficial.

I chose to attend NC State because of its highly regarded education program. I’ve had the opportunity to work with several student teachers completing their internships from NC State’s undergraduate program. NC State’s College of Education produces highly effective teachers and I wanted to be a member of such a program. Also, because I am a Wake County Public School System teacher, and a resident of the city of Raleigh, I was intrigued to attend my hometown university.

How did the scholarship affect your decision and what are the benefits in receiving? 

I am tremendously grateful to have received the scholarship. I had been considering applying for graduate school for quite some time, but the cost always caused reservations for my husband and me. We weren’t sure if we would be able to afford for me to get a Masters’ Degree, especially considering the North Carolina State Legislature’s decision to no longer provide salary increases for teachers with advanced degrees. When I saw that this cohort would allow me to earn such a valuable degree at a much more affordable price, I knew that this was my chance and I had to apply.

The distance learning aspect of the program allows for the reduction in tuition, and the scholarship provides additional support and lessens the impact of purchasing various texts required for the program. Without the financial benefits of this program, I would not be a graduate student at NC State at this time.

What was the most impactful lesson you learned in this program so far?

Honestly, this question is very hard to answer because I have received so many impactful lessons thus far. I guess if I had to choose, I would say that I’ve really enjoyed the lessons that have given us multiple strategies and digital tools that I could implement into my classroom immediately. In particular, the digital tools and teaching strategies that helped improve my students’ vocabulary, comprehension, and motivation have been especially helpful.

What would you say to a future student who is considering applying for the program?

Educators should consider applying for the program for many reasons. First, earning a graduate degree allows for you to improve and grow as a professional. Graduate school is the best professional development that I have received. It also helps you make connections with other great educators, including having access to the impressive faculty at NC State. Furthermore, earning a Masters’ Degree will give you greater employment opportunities and the possibility to advance your career. In addition, you will have increased credibility and recognition among the staff at your school and with your students’ parents, as well. Finally, there is a sense of accomplishment that accompanies the completion of graduate-level classes. You, and your family, will be proud of your successes as a student and educator.

What continuously motivates you to teach?

Students are the best motivators. The joy that comes across a student’s face as they enter the building excited to see you is a reward in and of itself. It’s amazing to see students explore themselves and become successful citizens. Every year, teachers are presented with new challenges with each class. A good educator will constantly refine their practices to meet the needs of their students. In addition to being great motivators, students are also great at keeping you humble. I struggle with balancing the feeling of being a successful educator, while also recognizing that I can always do more to help my students. These new challenges provide me with opportunities to grow and overcome my struggles. Teaching is never boring, that’s for sure!


  • Go to
  • On the pull-down menu for programs, you will click “Curr and Instr New Lit and Global Learning Reading Education-Distance-MED”
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2017
  • You will be considered a full-time student by taking two courses per semester for five semesters (Fall 2017, Spring, Summer & Fall 2018, and Spring 2019).
  • We are waiving the GRE score requirement.
  • Students who are accepted into the program will receive a $2,000 tuition scholarship!

Questions? Contact Dr. Hiller Spires: