The balancing act

Gina Drellack, Bagley, MN

Major: Bachelor of Science, elementary education
BSU Graduate: 2007
Route: Distributed Learning in Teacher Education (DLiTE) program

Gina Drellack was a stay-at-home mom until her youngest of two children started kindergarten at Bagley Elementary School. She soon began working as the school’s library media para-professional. That’s when she first aspired to become a school librarian.

“I loved the students; I loved the books; I just loved the whole thing,” Drellack recalls. “That’s when I decided to go back to school.”

Then recently divorced, she also wanted more financial stability for her children, but she didn’t want to sacrifice her time with them while earning her degree.

“DLiTE allowed me to keep my full-time job, be a mom and keep my life,” Drellack explains. “I would get up at 4 a.m. before the kids got up so I could study and still be mom when they got home from school. I couldn’t have done it without the DLiTE program. It helped enhance my life instead of getting in the way.”

Drellack also appreciated the support of her teacher mentor, a required partner in the DLiTE program. Mentors help students build professional networks and introduce them to a variety of student-teaching experiences throughout their studies.

“You start and finish each semester on campus with face-to-face instruction, but every single class connects you with your mentor teacher,” she says. “That person helps you connect with other teachers.”

Drellack finished the six-semester program in five semesters. The accelerated pace is not something she would recommend. However, she wanted to be a candidate for the Bagley media specialist job that was opening up. BSU administrators worked with her to accommodate her timeline.

“The instructors are phenomenal,” Drellack says. “They understand that this is real life.”

She has since completed her library certification at another institution and is working on her master’s degree. Best of all, she has her dream job as a media specialist for the Bagley School District.

“Online learning has been the vehicle that transformed my life,” Drellack says. “From where I started to where I am now is a huge success story.”