Marketing & Communications

A Passion for Teaching

by Terri McCullough

"Manage each moment." Those three words seem to be the mantra of life and education for Kasey Hagemyer. Hagemyer is married with three small children, ages 5 to 9, and a May graduate with a degree in middle childhood education.

As a full-time student and mother of three, Hagemyer has a full plate as far as responsibilities. But in addition to motherhood and class schedules, she has the additional responsibility of caring for her 8-year old son R.J., who has developmental disabilities. Born with hydrocephalus, and several other serious conditions, R.J. endured nine brain surgeries in his first 18 months of life. Since then, he has undergone an additional five brain surgeries, plus one on his leg and yet another on his hip.

Two years after R.J. was born, Hagemyer started some part-time classes at BGSU. She found that the field of education complemented her personality - and her personality matched a career in education.

"I am outgoing and I love the age group in middle childhood education," said Hagemyer. This past year she attended BGSU full time to finish her degree and start her teaching career.

Although challenging in many ways, her circumstances have helped her in her education. Being a mother and full-time student requires discipline. Hagemyer credits her sharp organization and time management skills as key components to balancing everything.

"I truly appreciate the opportunity I have been given to attend classes, and really grasp the importance of what I am learning here." "I am scheduled to the 't'," claims Hagemyer, "and a list person." She makes schedules not only of her time, but schedules the dinner menu for the week each Sunday. Hagemyer and her husband try not to over-schedule to keep the time demands realistic for her and her family. "I wake up early and work before the kids are up, then work again once they have all gone to bed. When the kids get home from school, that is family time. My husband and I try to use that time appropriately."

Having a child with developmental disabilities has changed her approach to her personal and professional life.

"We manage each moment," she said. "It has made me humble, and changed the way I look at things, experiences and people. I have more patience, and I do not sweat the small stuff. My husband and I have learned to focus on what needs to be done - and we do it. With R.J., there are a lot of 'unknowns'. Nothing is guaranteed, so you learn to appreciate the other times - each moment - you don't just go through the motions."

It has also changed the way she views her education.

"I may be different from the traditional younger student in the way that I view my time here at BGSU," she said. "I truly appreciate the opportunity I have been given to attend classes, and really grasp the importance of what I am learning here."

She also credits her experiences with R.J. and her two girls, Grace and Hannah, to giving her the maturity and calm frame of mind of which she approaches her schoolwork.

"Everyone says Methods class is hard, and it is tough," said Hagemyer. "But it's different taking it as a mom. You are used to multi-tasking, so you can handle all the different requirements and time it demands."

Maturity will also help her when she becomes a teacher.

"Her experiences at home, and as a non-traditional student, will help make her a better teacher," said Dr. Eric Myers, an instructorin the Department of Education. "She has had to juggle her family priorities while attending BGSU, so she has mastered the art of time management and multi-tasking. She also is raising three children of her own, and can bring those experiences to the classroom to better relate to the children in her classes."

Hagemyer is also confident that her life with a child with developmental disabilities will help her as a teacher.

"I have learned to be patient, and to read R.J.," she said. "I think I can incorporate my special needs experience into teaching to help the children I teach. It has really opened my eyes on how to reach the children - better understanding what they might need, whether it is a little more space, a little more patience or a different approach to a subject to better help them understand what is being taught."

Hagemyer's faculty at BGSU respect the way she has approached her learning experience over the past few years. She starts a new class by visiting the instructor at the start of the semester and educating them on her family situation.

"I give them full disclosure, but they soon realize I am reliable and I don't take advantage of my home situation," Hagemyer said.

"Kasey was always very cheerful," Myers remarked. "You can tell she loves her children, but she never used them as a crutch or as an excuse. I have a world of respect for her."

She said she wouldn't have been able to balance everything without her great support system made up of her husband, family and friends.

"I hope to always be learning and I have a feeling it won't be long before I will be back at BGSU for my master's degree!" "They make it easier for me - make being a full time student and mom a 'doable' thing." Hagemyer is schedule driven. "If I say I am going to be there, I am," she said. "We try to schedule R.J's appointments around my classes and student-teaching work schedule. The kids are all in school full time now, and my school schedule matches up great with their schedule."

In her limited free time, Hagemyer spends quality time with her family. Movie nights are a hit, and she enjoys reading and cooking.

"Some of the other student-teachers have nicknamed me 'Mama' because I have them over and prepare a big home-cooked meal for them," she said. "I love it and they love it!"

She also gives back as a parent advocate for children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Mary Murray, associate dean for student and academic affairs in the College of Education and Human Development, has asked Hagemyer to come in and speak to future teachers of students with special needs. Some of these student teachers were invited to "shadow" Hagemyer and her family to get a real-life perspective on raising a child with developmental disabilities.

"Interacting with our family gives those future teachers a big picture view of education, one that involves both the child and the family," Hagemyer said.

Hagemyer is often invited to speak at parent advocacy classes through the Wood Lane Speaker's Bureau and at local hospitals where she has participated in training classes for firefighters and EMTs, specifically the sessions where they were instructed on how to handle accidents involving children or adults with special needs.

Hagemyer will miss being on campus.

"I love going to classes, working with the professors and am so thankful to all those people that gave me the extra push to finish my degree and enter the field of education," Hagemyer said. "I hope to always be learning and I have a feeling it won't be long before I will be back at BGSU for my master's degree!"

No matter what Hagemyer decides to do in the future, her strength, organization and determination will ensure she is well prepared to go forward in whatever direction she chooses.

(Posted May 6, 2013 )