Lacey Lee sitting on a park benchLacey Lee is a Tuscaloosa native who spends her days supporting and investing in the students of Tuscaloosa County as a counselor at Brookwood Middle School. After earning her bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies from UA in 2013, she took a short break before returning for her master’s in Counselor Education. She earned both of these degrees as a traditional main campus student. After graduating with her master’s in Spring 2017, she began her current role.

Lacey loves her job and wanted to make sure she was keeping her methods up to date so she could offer her students the very best. “I didn’t want to grow stagnant and wanted to keep improving my knowledge,” she said. Lacey had heard UA would be offering a 100% online EdS in Counselor Education with School Counselor Certification from the faculty during her master’s program starting in Fall 2018. “I was interested in it then, so after I started my third year and was more comfortable in my role at work, I decided it was time to start my EdS.”

Lacey Lee with her grandfatherAs a full-time educator, Lacey benefits from the online course delivery, which allows her to balance her work and family responsibilities while she pursues her degree. Lacey helps her mom tend to family members and spends time with her grandparents at least once a week. Because the coursework can be completed around her busy schedule, she is able to work on her assignments on the weekends.

Even though she is only one year into the program, Lacey has already learned a great deal from her courses that she applies at work. “My first class was a readings course where we picked a few different research topics. One of the things I learned was that students will be more receptive if they feel like they have a say or a leadership role.” She applied this to the sixth-grade leadership group she advises, taking away some of the structure she had used in the past to give students an opportunity to guide the group’s activity. “I didn’t get to see it all come to fruition completely because we shut down early due to COVID-19, but I definitely saw them getting more passionate about the things they were choosing to be involved in.”

Lacey LeeIn her Adult and Child Relationships class over the summer, Lacey learned about the differences between praise and encouragement for children and how they respond. “That was really helpful because sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the two, but they have different functions, and that’s important. I feel like a lot of what I’ve learned isn’t just helping me in my work with the students at school, but it’s helping prepare me for motherhood, too.”

She’s eager to continue learning, and her current class is one that excites her. “I’m taking Play Therapy right now. It’s a class I’ve wanted to take since I was going through my master’s program. My hope is eventually to be an elementary counselor, and I’ve debated going into play therapy in private practice down the road. This class is opening up some more possibilities for me,” Lacey said.

Lacey’s experience as an online student herself has enhanced her ability to serve students who are opting for virtual learning this school year due to the pandemic. “I had Dr. Ryan Cook over the summer. One thing he did that was super helpful was posting these short recordings of himself explaining some of the assignments where we could see his face and hear his voice. I realized how helpful that was for me and recognized that it would be helpful for the students I serve to be able to see me and hear my voice.” When Lacey set up her counselor page in the school’s web platform for virtual students this year, she factored this in so she could offer her students and their parents a richer experience.

Lacey Lee with her fianceeIn addition to progressing toward her EdS and serving students as a counselor remotely, 2020 has another update in store for Lacey’s personal life. In December, she and her fiancé are getting married! Through all of life’s changes, she’s excited about adding the EdS along with Class AA Counseling Certification to her repertoire.

“It’s helping me do even better work currently. It’s not just preparing me for the future. It’s information I can apply to my role right now. It’s helping me to keep improving and because of the online option, it’s manageable for me with my full-time job.”

Published: September 17th, 2020