How did you discover your passion for what you do, and what opportunities have helped shape your career?

When I was in high school, I had a wonderful mentor, now a dear friend, Annie, who inspired me to pursue a career in audiology because she was an audiologist. While I originally loved this course of study, I found myself drawn more to my minor, American Sign Language (ASL). I adored everything about Deaf culture and the language of ASL. When I ultimately decided to change my major to education, I struggled with the decision because I did not know of any teaching job where I could still use the elements of audiology and Deaf culture that I most enjoyed. After significant research into different types of education, I discovered that teachers of the Deaf/hard of hearing existed and that it was the exact blend of my passions that I was looking for. My passion was truly ignited through my coursework in audiology and ASL. When I transferred schools, I was given the opportunity to conduct research with a professor immediately, which only intensified my passion. I had the opportunity to present at a national convention, Council for Exceptional Children, as an undergraduate student, and that is absolutely something that shaped my career. Not only was I able to show how much I care about my field, but I was also able to see thousands of other passionate special education teachers in one place. Throughout my undergraduate practicum placements, I was lucky enough to experience a variety of communication modalities, grade levels and more. All of those placements helped me to determine what the best fit was for me as a teacher as well as shaping my personal teaching philosophy. Once I began teaching, I was given the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities, which I jumped on. These responsibilities have since become an additional passion for me and have continued to shape my own teaching practice. They have also allowed me to meet staff throughout my district that I would not have met otherwise.


Who has been an invaluable mentor for your professional career? What did you learn from them?

I have had three invaluable mentors in my professional career: my mother, Laurel Mateyka, and the professors with whom I conducted my undergraduate research, Christy Borders and Stacey Bock. From my mother, I have learned so much about how to be a good teacher and leader. From Christy and Stacey, I learned how to embrace my passions, pursue my dreams, and inspire future teachers.


How do you make sure you stay connected with your professional network?

I have a wonderful professional network within my school district who I am easily able to stay connected with through district email, in-person meetings and more. Beyond my immediate district network, I connect with other professionals in the field of education through Instagram. I also have remained in contact with the university from which I graduated which has allowed me to further grow my network as a cooperating teacher.


How have friendships helped you professionally? Is there a friend (or Delta Zeta sister) that has been behind you every step of the way on your career journey?

I have several colleagues that have become dear friends. Their friendship has helped me professionally because they challenge me to always be my best and, when I’m not at my best, they are there to help support me and encourage me. When I say that my friend, Haley Heniff, has been behind me every step of the way, I mean it literally. She was the first person I ever met as a freshman in college and she later became a Delta Zeta sister, we even have the same big sister. When I was in the process of deciding to transfer, so was she. When I ended up taking longer to graduate than I would have liked, so did she. She has been with me from day one and is somebody that I continue to stay in contact with. She cheers me on in all I do, just as I do for her.