Member Spotlight: Sara Skretta
AACTE’s Member Spotlight features an individual from a member institution, highlighting how their work makes a difference in classrooms across the country. Nominate yourself or another member by providing a response to the following questions and sending to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get to know Sara Skretta …
Name: Sara Skretta
Position/Institution: Sr. Director of Accreditation, Placement & Licensure & Certification Officer
Number of years in your position: 5 years
Alma Mater(s): A proud 3-time University of Nebraska, Lincoln graduate!!
Hometown: Laurel, Nebraska
- How long have you been a member of AACTE?
I’ve been a member of AACTE through my institution since 2014.
- Why did you join AACTE?
When I accepted my position at UNL, it was an expectation that I attend AACTE to represent my institution. What I discovered at my first annual meeting was the amazing network of resources that exists among AACTE members and with those in the organization. The workshops and conferences, legislative advocacy, and information on a variety of topics has continued to be valuable in my role at my institution. Membership in AACTE has been great!
- Why did you decide to enter the field of educator preparation?
I started my professional career as a teacher and administrator and when life happened, moved into the private sector as a human resources leader. After a few years I had the opportunity to return to my alma mater and assist in preparing future educators and couldn’t resist. I missed the education world and being able to help new candidates be well prepared for successful careers. I enjoy the the development and delivery of professional development to teacher candidates and watching them evolve into professional teachers. My passion is making sure that schools have qualified teachers so students can excel. Working in educator preparation is a place that I can positively contribute to that effort, and I haven’t looked back!
- What’s been your favorite or most memorable moment of your career so far?
My favorite moments are when I get to see the milestones students achieve and one particular student left a lasting impression. As an associate principal I worked with student discipline and there was a student who frequently spent time in my office for being belligerent and disruptive – school was not his thing, or so he said. He was not ambitious and did not have a plan after graduation, but over the year he and I forged a positive relationship, to the point that he would get in trouble just to be sent to the office to inform me of an impending after school fight or other situation while still saving face. He barely graduated and I lost track of him as I moved on as well. I ran into this student a few years ago and he shared that he was now a graphic artist who was doing very well within his company and thanked me for helping him his senior year. He was charming, had found his passion and was excelling, and I was so proud of his accomplishments…and THAT is why I am in the education business!
- What’s one thing — educator preparation-related or not — you learned in the last month?
I’ve learned the importance of separating work and nonwork life, something that I gave lip service to but had not internalized in my own life. As a teacher and coach those two worlds blended and have always been that way. The pandemic made it even more difficult for me to clearly identify the line of when I needed to stop working. My goal during the summer of 2022 has been to not work over the weekends. What I learned after the first three weeks, was that by doing so, I’m a better wife and mom and a better, more productive employee in the office. I’ve found a balance that allows me to maximize my time, my productivity and my zen!
- What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
The greatest challenge in my career is now. The current climate in general is challenging, but the laser focus on education and its failings continues to be detrimental. Factions of the population appear to have identified a personal agenda or a seemingly singular issue to support, that results in educators, boards of education and others having to defend an educational system that performs very well. As a member of the education community, I believe it is my responsibility to inform and advocate with our state legislators, support schools and educators, and be a vocal activist supporting education to ensure that quality educator preparation continues, which will result in high student achievement. I don’t believe I have ever lived in a more challenging time as an educator, and all of us must continue to tell the stories of our success to ensure access to high quality instruction for all students!
- What advice would you give someone who is interested in working in this field?
Education is the most important job that exists and the most challenging. I would tell someone who wants to work in the education field that there is no other job that will have such a significant impact on a child’s future and be more rewarding.
- Who or what inspires you?
I’ve had great role models in my parents and mentors along the way, but my inspiration comes from being able to problem solve for school success. The administrators and teachers I work with daily inspire me with their dedication and continued efforts to make sure their students have everything they need in the classroom and beyond. It makes me work harder to assist with licensure and staffing issues when I hear the lengths that they are going to ensure every classroom and program will be operational in the fall. Nebraska education is in great hands because of these amazing people who use their expertise and their dedication to make sure that students have optimal experiences.
- What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I grew up in northeast Nebraska and spent many weekends showing steers around the state as an active 4-H member. I have so many great memories of weekend stock shows, running around the state fairgrounds with my 4-H buddies, and my boots and buckles. I do have to admit, however, that I hated the early mornings!
- What is your favorite part about being a member of AACTE?
AACTE is a valuable organization to EPPs and to me as an individual. As a past president for our state chapter I had the opportunity to work with AACTE experts on legislative advocacy and other initiatives, and found the expertise and information extremely valuable. I’ve also been lucky enough to present at the annual meeting and currently serve on a committee, both of which allow me to learn a lot and increase my professional network. Membership in AACTE has been valuable to me in terms of the professional relationships, resources, and networking. Educator preparation also enjoys the national advocacy and information that AACTE provides, which is invaluable! I would highly recommend membership in AACTE.