GMercyU Education Graduate Brianna Vandegrift

Meet Brianna Vandegrift

Education, 2019

Current Position: Special Education Teacher in the North Penn School District

We all have that one special teacher who made a lasting impact on our lives. For Brianna Vandegrift, it was the Special Education staff at General Nash Elementary School.

Brianna was diagnosed with a learning disability as a young child and, despite her love for education, her social and academic fear made school less approachable. Through the dedication and support of the Special Education staff, Brianna was able to not only turn her learning experience into a positive one, but also spark her passion for teaching.

"Ever since, I have been inspired to help scaffold other students’ learning journeys and assist them in becoming lifelong learners," Brianna said.

Brianna received her associate degree in early childhood education from Montgomery County Community College and wanted to find a school to continue onto her bachelor's degree. The biggest factors in her search were finding a school that accepted a large majority of her credits while also being affordable.

Just four days after talking with a Financial Aid Specialist, Brahim Bouidi, Brianna signed her acceptance letter and committed to Gwynedd Mercy University.

"Brahim was very efficient and transparent with communication and presented my options in a student-friendly manner. I was intrigued by how well the staff supports their students through scholarships and acceptance of course credits," Brianna said.

GMercyU’s intimate class sizes enabled Brianna to establish a sense of comfort and security. She also became involved in the Best Buddies club on campus, which expanded her understanding of inclusion and enabled her to grow socially.

Through GMercyU’s Teacher Apprenticeship Program (TAP), Brianna found her home within the North Penn School District. She was the first student to participate in a cohort between GMercyU and Gwynedd Square Elementary School and completed two semesters of TAP and a semester of student-teaching there.

“GMercyU is really great when it comes to providing its students with connections to community school districts," said Brianna. “I was able to get to know the Elementary principal, supervisor of Special Education and the supportive faculty, all of which helped land me a contracted Special Education position starting in the fall."

Brianna didn't wait until the fall to officially begin her teaching career. After student-teaching, Brianna accepted a long-term substitute position for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year at Gwynedd Square Elementary School and served as a lead teacher in the North Penn School District Extended School Year this summer.