Edward Morante had a tough time as a child in school. He was bullied, he didn’t understand the material and he felt ignored by his teachers. The result: he dropped out of high school. 
But with a lot of hard work, he climbed back. He earned his high school diploma and then took classes at community colleges. In Fall 2017, he was accepted into UMass Lowell’s newly launched Bachelor of Arts in Education program.
“I want to become a teacher because I want kids to succeed and enjoy life,” says Morante. “I want to help kids who may have felt like I did.”
He is now one of 18 students in the new BA education program that offers dual certification for teaching children in grades one to six and children with moderate disabilities in grades pre-K to eight in Massachusetts. 
“I enjoy the program very much,” he says. “The faculty and staff are wonderful people who are truly passionate about education.” 
During his first semester, he gained initial experience teaching a lesson to five student avatars in a virtual reality classroom developed by Mursion®.
“Teaching the avatars was an amazing experience because it simulated what many students in elementary school act like,” he says. “Working with the avatars built my confidence because it showed that I could engage students in a way they and I enjoyed.”
He then took that initial experience to a third grade classroom at the Murkland Elementary School in Lowell.
“We were able to make the lesson a little over an hour without any students getting distracted. Everyone walked away with a smile. I attribute this to the avatars allowing me to practice in a very realistic way.”
Both experiences during his freshman year gave him confidence in his ability and confirmed that teaching is the career for him.
“Having classroom experience this early has been an amazing and challenging experience,” he says. “I’ll be able to constantly improve with the help of the wonderful professors at UML and the teachers at Murkland Elementary School and at other schools down the road.”
At UMass Lowell, Morante found what he’s been searching for – a supportive environment that will help him succeed.
“UML is amazing,” he says. “I am incredibly happy that they started this education undergraduate program especially because UML was my first choice of universities. When I heard that they were opening this new undergraduate education program, it sealed the deal for me to come to here.”