Most students dream about how they’ll use their degrees to change lives and make the world a better place. Angel Buck ’05 was no different, but what she didn’t realize as a student was just how much of an impact her degree would have in her personal life as a mother.
Prior to attending UF, Buck earned her bachelor’s degree from Bluffton College in communications. She was working as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home, wondering what she wanted to do with her career when her sister approached her about becoming a teacher. “My sister knew that teaching would be perfect for me, since I love kids, and I had a passion for making sure bullying would never happen on my watch,” said Buck. Many of her family members recommended the University of Findlay, and she had heard great things about the College of Education, so she scheduled an appointment to meet with faculty to discuss enrolling. She was excited to learn that she could take post-baccalaureate license courses that would not only qualify her for a teaching license but also allow her to earn her master’s degree at the same time.
At first, Buck wasn’t sure what she wanted to teach, but after her meeting with UF College of Education faculty and talking to friends who were teaching in the special education field, Buck knew special education would be her calling, and she never looked back.
On her first day of class she recalls not knowing what an IEP (Individualized Education Program) was and being relieved when no one laughed at her. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. Buck was welcomed into the College of Education by professors eager to teach her everything she needed to know about the special needs community.
It turns out the advice and education she received at UF would not only become invaluable in her teaching career but in her personal life as well. In her fourth year of teaching students with special needs, she became pregnant with her second child. It was two years after Jenna was born that Buck noticed her daughter’s language seemed to go away, she was fixated on cartoons and lining up toys, and she wouldn’t respond to her name. “I went back to my notes and remembered discussions I had in my UF classes about autism. We decided to get Jenna evaluated, and she was officially diagnosed with autism. Not only did my classes give me the tools to recognize autism in time to get the ever-so-important early intervention for Jenna, but it also gave me a soft place to land when she was diagnosed. Had I not known anything about autism, I think it would have been more difficult to accept. I believe God used my education at UF, not only to help prepare me with what we would have to know with Jenna, but He also knew that I would love what I do and that I would have a soft spot for students who struggle and would do anything I could for them. I think that’s so cool,” said Buck.
Now an intervention specialist and seventh grade language arts teacher at Glenwood Middle School in Findlay, Buck continues to work with students who struggle. In addition to teaching, she also runs a fundraising group called Glenwood Givers and plays a vital role in bringing autism awareness to the local community as a member of the District Autism Team. District representatives from almost all of the school buildings came together to learn about autism as well as better equip the buildings with sensory kits, behavior tips and tricks and general knowledge of autism to present to their respective staffs. The District Autism Team even gave her daughter the opportunity to read and sing Pete the Cat: Rocking in His School Shoes in front of the entire Findlay City Schools staff last August. “She absolutely rocked it and received a standing ovation! It was such a proud moment for my husband, David, and me,” said Buck.
When asked if she believes her education prepared her for her current career Buck said, “More importantly and amazingly is that my education at UF prepared me for my most important job: being a mother of a child with special needs.”