Laine Shields: Transition Leadership Graduate

Laine Shields is a Transition Specialist and Bridge Alliance Teacher at Brookline High School. She graduated from UMass Boston’s Transition Leadership Program in 2020.

UMass Boston’s fully online Transition Leadership Program prepares current and prospective educators and professionals to help students with disabilities focus on employment, college preparation, and independent living skills during this critical transition from high school to adult life.

Our program is designed so teachers can apply what they are learning in the courses immediately back at their own schools. Since graduating in 2020, Laine has partnered with her colleague in the Transition Leadership Program to advance transition services to a wide range of students at Brookline High School.

We talked to Laine about her experience as a student of UMass Boston’s Transition Leadership Program:

Q: How did your understanding of the transition process evolve during your time in the Transition Leadership Program?

A: I came into the program with more of a fixed mindset surrounding college and career opportunities for students with disabilities. I graduated, with the knowledge that it only takes some creativity and an open mind to guide students toward their chosen career and college goals. The Transition Leadership Program helped me grow as a professional in more ways than I expected.

Q: How did you feel about the level of instruction? Was it difficult to balance the coursework with your full-time job?

A: I was worried the program would have an overwhelming amount of work, however I appreciated how the professors worked together and with the students to make the workload manageable. The professors are experts in this growing and evolving field, and I felt supported during each of my classes.

Q: What aspects of the program did you find most useful for your career?

A: The projects we completed in our classes were extremely thorough, applicable, and well worth the effort. I learn by “doing,” and that is exactly what this program did for me. I wrote an entire Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Transition Planning Form (TPF), and Transition Assessment using the new knowledge I learned from my classes, and despite it being my 9th year as a teacher, I now feel more knowledgeable and prepared than I did after completing my master’s degree in teaching.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway from the UMass Boston Transition Leadership Program?

A: My biggest takeaway was that while I came into this program hoping to be a Transition Coordinator in my district, I left with a newfound passion for teaching that I know I could carry with me either in my own district, a new district, as a consultant, or at a college or university. I feel like my own career possibilities opened up as a result of completing this endorsement, and that is an invaluable result that I wasn’t expecting.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?

A: Just that I feel like I have a thorough understanding of transition planning for students with disabilities, and I would highly recommend this program to other professionals in the field.

Thank you, Laine, for sharing your experience with us!

UMass Boston is among the first, and one of the only, transition specialist training programs in the US with university accreditation by the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT). Our online, 18-month, accredited transition specialist training meets the needs of busy professionals. Our online, 18-month, accredited transition specialist training meets the needs of busy professionals.

· Our highly qualified instructors lead 5 evidence-based online courses

· Learners engage in a practicum experience over the course of 18 months

· Graduates of our program are eligible to apply for a national certification from the Council for Exceptional Children’s DCDT

· Our program is approved by the Division of Career Development, Transition of the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Transition Specialist Endorsement

Learn more about UMass Boston’s Transition Leadership Program and enroll for Fall 2022!

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