Life and learning

Life and learning


Completely online elementary education program opens opportunities

A married mother of four active children: Joey (14), Jacob (12), Evan (10), and Matthew (5), University of Wisconsin-Superior graduate Amanda Brahmer checked all the boxes of a non-traditional student.

She took a break from school – and the workforce – for a bit, while doing the important work of raising children. Brahmer also helped her husband, Michael, establish his business as a financial advisor.

Now that she’s earned her degree, she’s ready to tackle the world. The wisdom gleaned from such a rich and full life ensures she Brahmer has much to offer in her future profession as a teacher.

Logistically, her coursework needed to fit for this busy wife and mom. UW-Superior’s online elementary education programming was an extremely convenient choice for Brahmer’s hectic lifestyle.

“At first, it took a little while to get used to,” Brahmer noted of her coursework, which she completed remotely from her home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

“I enjoyed the flexibility of it. I was able to work full-time, attend my kids’ activities, and do all the things that life throws at me, in addition to being able to complete my degree.

“The flexibility was the key to being able to get my degree,” she added. “It wouldn’t have been possible if I had to be on campus. It’s a blessing to have the option to do this program online.”

UW-Superior is the only public university in Wisconsin with an online elementary education program. The only other offering in the state is through Concordia College, near Milwaukee.

This online option is exactly why Brahmer selected UW-Superior.

“I chose UWS because it was a school I could attend using distance learning,” she noted. “I did look at other schools, but they didn’t have the option to do everything online. That’s why I chose UWS.”

A Passion for Teaching

Brahmer always had dreams of being a teacher. “I first decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was an elementary-aged student,” she explained. “I would have my gradebook and use the names of my classmates for pretend play.

“And, I had really amazing teachers,” Brahmer added. “One who was an inspiration. Going through my classes at UW-Superior, I’ve thought of him often. He was not only a teacher in the classroom, but a coach. He really embodied what it means to be a teacher – not just of academics, but of life.”

Brahmer explained more about her path as a non-traditional student. “I attended a different university after high school, but just couldn’t settle into a path. Eventually, I graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College in 2004, then worked for a hospitality management company, and later, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin.” She later took time off to raise her growing family.

But dreams of teaching never faded. “What really turned it around for me was COVID,” Brahmer noted. “At the time, I was an instructional aide at my kids’ school, and I also got my substitute license.

“When I was substitute teaching during COVID, I saw the dedication and hard work teachers were putting in toward helping students achieve success. I thought to myself, ‘I know there’s a teacher shortage. I think I’m able to do that, too.’ That’s what made me turn around and say, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

UWS Experience

“My experience at UWS was wonderful,” Brahmer noted about earning her bachelor’s degree through UWS’ online programming.

“The professors, staff and advisors were all extremely helpful and encouraging. You can tell they want you to succeed. They have been a very encouraging force, as any educator should be. This has been a very good experience for me.”