Ms. Budd decided she wanted to be a teacher later in life after realizing her enthusiasm lies with helping students. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Corporate Communications and a minor in Civic and Community Engagement. She later enrolled in a Master's Degree program to pursue teaching.
After graduating with an M.Ed from the California University of Pennsylvania with a PA Level I Teaching Certification in Elementary Education K-6 and Special Education N-12, she began working at Pressley Ridge as a Special Education Teacher. This position allowed her to gain valuable experiences about creating successful transition plans for students with disabilities.
Now in her third year at PA Distance as a Level II Career Education & Work Special Education Teacher, she explained that helping students prepare for life after high school is her passion.
"I decided that I wanted to teach because I enjoy helping students to see their future potential," she explained.
As a special education teacher, Ms. Budd is the liaison between PA Distance and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). She provides teachers with the proper OVR consent forms and assists them in staying up-to-date on resources available to students outside of PA Distance. Ms. Budd also helps train teachers for the transition portion of a student's Individualized Learning Plan (IEP)
"If a family needs a summer program to learn more about a college or life after high school, I can help them with that," she explained.
Upon arriving at PA Distance, Ms. Budd also created the very first Career Education and Work Program for the school. By Pennsylvania law, all public schools are required to prepare students in regards to career readiness through a CEW program. Before they finish the 11th grade, all students are required to complete 20 "artifacts" that are kept within their career portfolio. The portfolio is an ongoing, individualized collection of materials that documents a student's educational performance, career exploration, and employment experiences over time.
To do this, Ms. Budd ensures that content area teachers have the CEW lessons they need to incorporate them into their curriculum. "I get to give teachers resources that can help them. It's fulfilling for me because I'm helping staff and, more importantly, the students," she noted. She maintains the student tracking database, creates and distributes a monthly CEW newsletter, and sends out weekly announcements.
To supplement the CEW program, Ms. Budd and School Counselor Ms. Brianna Edwards, organize in-person, virtual events, and guest speakers that provide more information about future career options. In February, students in grades 7-12 had the opportunity to learn from a neuroscientist currently working in the field. Ms. Budd organizes in-person college campus tours and enjoys being a part of each student's journey.
"I love that I get to talk to families about what their kids want to do in their futures," she said.
Ms. Budd created and maintains the PA Distance Career & Work Program Website, where she posts resources and announcements to help students plan life after high school. The website includes information about financial aid, post-secondary education, military programs, apprenticeships, and technical schools, and job opportunities. The recordings for presentations and career speakers are also housed on the website so students can access them at any time.
She also teaches a semester-long College & Career Readiness elective course for high school students, which meets twice a week. During the class, she provides students with information about post-secondary options, virtual college tours, information about college costs, financial aid, and many other career-related topics.
She notes that she loves the opportunity to talk to students and families outside of the classroom. "The phone calls I have with families start with me asking them if they want to attend a campus tour, and ends with me figuring out a path that a student could take to achieve their goals after high school," she explained.
"Those types of calls are really rewarding," she added. "I love seeing my work come to fruition."
Ms. Budd explains that one of her main drivers behind her passion for the Career Education and Work Program because she wished she had the same resources when she was in school.
"When I was younger, I switched ideas about my future in my head so many times. I didn't have the guidance that we are providing students with now. I didn't have a program like this or a career teacher, she said. "It's so crucial that these kids get this information."