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The University of Central Arkansas grad breaking boundaries in education



Conway, Arkansas – At this time of year, graduates may be seen almost anywhere. Michael Garlington’s big day of receiving a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Central Arkansas didn’t come easily, as he struggled to put on his cap and gown.

Garlington had a clear goal of becoming a teacher, but the Praxis exam proved to be a huge roadblock for him over the course of four years. Three, four, or five times weren’t failures for him.

“I took it at least 6 to seven times,” Garlington admitted.

Garlington was consistently a few points shy of receiving an education degree due to that one test, so she chose to pursue a general education degree instead.

“I graduated but I felt unfulfilled,” Garlington said.

Although he was uncertified, like 4% of teachers in Arkansas, he was able to land a job teaching social studies at Little Rock’s eSTEM East Village Junior High. That is more than twice as much as the 1.7% national average.

Michael required assistance, and Tina Fletcher, CEO and founder of The Test Prep Institute, observed this during his first year at eSTEM.

“I was doing a little research with some data that I had. I saw Michael’s and a few other students’ names quite a few times,” Fletcher said. “Being from Arkansas it was easy for me to say okay, I’m going to focus on my home state because we need it the most.”

Garlington filed for a master degree in teacher administration after passing the PRAXIS with enough points within a few weeks at Fletcher’s Test Prep Institute, filling a need in the educational system. Only 2% of male instructors nationwide and in Arkansas are African Americans.

“That’s a low number, and that just tells me have more work to do,” Garlington said.

Fletcher has engaged Garlington as a professional tutor after passing the Praxis. He has been assisting individuals online in order for them to pass the Praxis. Over the course of two years, according to Fletcher, he has assisted 40–50 additional educators.

“Kudos for not giving up. A lot of teachers give up whenever they are not able to pass, and Michael just did not give up,” Fletcher encouraged Garlington during her interview.

“In all actuality without you, we wouldn’t be at this point,” Garlington replied.

Garlington was one of the graduates waiting to receive his diploma on Friday, making sure a line of others followed in his footsteps.

“We have quite a few teachers that aren’t licensed, I would tell them to keep going because it’s right there, and then that license will open other doors in the future,” Garlington said.

Before he returns to his books, he doesn’t have much time. There are only a few weeks left till his main administrator test.

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