As a member of the university track and field team, Benjamin Bottrell knows when to plan and follow through or go with the flow. Now he’s applying those same concepts to continuing his education.
Being in the Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Management online program at Fitchburg State University has already taught him a lot about organization and time management.
“As long as you manage your time well, the routine of completing your online assignments becomes easy,” he said.
Bottrell has lived in Gardner, Leominster, and the South Shore of Massachusetts while seamlessly continuing his program. Going to school online has been a perfect fit for him, given his busy schedule and other obligations. He can take as many or as few classes as he is able to manage in a semester, and he can take them from anywhere.
“The online program gave me the opportunity to move out of my mom’s house and start building my career while I work and go to school,” he said.
Developing the Game Plan
Bottrell was already familiar with online classes from his undergraduate studies at Fitchburg State University. He finished with a Bachelor of Arts in English in May 2017. He found the teachers easy to contact, and he liked that he had resources both on campus and online.
“Fitchburg State couldn’t have done any better, in all seriousness. I feel like I’m able to harness the material I’ve learned, and use it every day,” he said.
He has enjoyed interacting with students through the virtual platform in the all-online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Management program.
“I was in courses with people from all over the state and, really, all over the country,” he said. “There were people from Maryland, people from Pennsylvania and all different ages and backgrounds.”
No Pain, No Gain
Of the courses Bottrell has taken so far in the online M.Ed. curriculum, ETEC 9200: Project in Educational Technology is his favorite.
“That [class] took a little bit longer just because I had to do research, too, but it was helpful how it incorporated a lot of what I was using in the field already like Google Chrome, YouTube and ClassDojo. It allowed me to ask questions and view technology from a different perspective.”
But with challenges come some great rewards. Bottrell grew up with a single mother, and she is so proud of all that he has accomplished. When she learned he was going to start a master’s degree program, she was thrilled.
“She would have supported me no matter which college I chose” said Bottrell, “but since everything went so smoothly at Fitchburg State [for my bachelor’s] there was no need to look anywhere else [for my master’s].
“My mom and dad were pumped. They were really happy for me,” he said.
Plus, Fitchburg State isn’t too far from home, and the program’s affordability set to rest any fears that he would rack up excessive student debt.
Making the Assist
Bottrell started out as a waiter and then a camp counselor when he realized a common thread: He likes to help people.
He got into teaching through a stint as a paraprofessional at Robert F. Kennedy Lancaster School, where he worked with at-risk youth and individuals with disabilities. He has also worked as a behavior specialist. It was during his time teaching high school art and English at the Westminster CAPS Collaborative School that a lead teacher suggested the degree program at Fitchburg State.
In 2020, Bottrell started working as a program manager for Community Resources for Justice, serving adults with disabilities and promoting life skills. He is open to different possibilities in the future, but becoming a program director is at the top of his list.
He expects what he learns in the online M.Ed. program will serve him well, whichever direction his career takes.
“I’m an open book, so the more knowledge I have, the better prepared I’ll be no matter what I do,” he said.
Choosing the Right Team
Bottrell’s time at Fitchburg State has given him a sense of confidence that he didn’t have before.
“The online M.Ed. program showed me that I’m capable of doing anything,” he said. “If I’m able to manage my time, the sky’s the limit. It’s just a matter of signing up for the courses and taking what they have to offer and rolling with it.
“I’ve built some lifelong friendships, not just with students, but with teachers, too. It’s been a really good experience.”
When Bottrell is not doing schoolwork, he loves drawing cartoons, playing basketball and spending time with family. He and his fiancée are expecting their first child in November.
“I have a great family. And I’m ready to welcome my daughter into the world and focus on being the best me I can be every day.”
As a proud Falcon, Bottrell has his undergraduate diploma hanging by his desk. He’s looking forward to adding the master’s diploma soon.
Learn more about the Fitchburg State M. Ed. in Educational Leadership and Management online program.