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UNF education alum makes learning a life-long focus


The University of North Florida makes it easy for students to be life-long learners.


Sabrena Bua can attest to that.


A 2007 graduate from the College of Education and Human Services, Bua continued on with the University for her master’s degree. Now, she’s teaching kindergarten students at a brand new Jacksonville elementary school while courting the possibility of pursuing her doctorate in education leadership.


“This University has been a big part of my life,” Bua said. “The support of my professors and fellow students was huge in me being able to get through the master’s program while juggling my own students. And I want to continue along that path with UNF by going for my doctoral degree. I’m definitely a life-long learner, and UNF helped make that possible.”


In addition to being a UNF campus fixture, Bua is a rising star in the city’s public-school system. Her work in the classroom and her background in educational leadership have put Bua on the fast track for multiple awards. She even made it to the semi-final round of voting for this year’s EDDY Awards, which recognizes the best teachers in the Duval County Public School System.


The words of her boss at the time, Woodland Acres Elementary School Principal Marianne Simon, on her award nomination accurately sum up Bua’s dedication to her craft.  

"As a teacher, Ms. Bua exhibits many leadership skills,” Simon wrote. “She serves as grade-level chair where she is responsible for disseminating important information to her peers as well as overseeing successful implementation of district-wide initiatives. She has stepped up to serve as the Magnet Lead Teacher for the new Medical Magnet program at our school. Sabrena is a leader at our school and can always be counted on to work towards the betterment of the entire school."

For this school year, both Bua and Simon relocated to the newest Duval County Public School System institution, Waterleaf Elementary School on the city’s Southside.

Bua said she’s already had some challenges — namely transitioning from teaching third-grade students at her previous school, Woodland Acres Elementary School, to teaching kindergarteners.


But she said her UNF training, especially the instruction she received from Dr. Katrina Hall in the Department of Childhood Education, has been a positive and guiding force for her as she learns to adapt to the changing classroom model.


Hall said Bua comes from a long line of UNF education graduates who have stayed in Jacksonville to teach and influence other generations of life-long learners.


“We are lucky that we have quite a few graduates come back for a master’s degree,” she said. “Teaching is one of those fields where the research constantly adds to our body of knowledge, so there is always something to learn. We encourage our students to return for a master’s degree so that they can increase their knowledge of theory, research, and best practices for instruction and assessment. We also love to have our master’s graduates teach for us as adjuncts — their combination of experience and knowledge make them wonderful resources for our undergraduate students.”


And as Bua continues along in her field and builds her teaching experience, she said UNF will remain an integral part of her development as a teacher.


“At UNF, they prepared us for everything,” she said. “When I first graduated, I wanted to teach kindergarten and ended up with third grade. After getting used to third grade, I’m moving back to kindergarten. But that’s my passion, and I know I’m prepared for anything that gets thrown my way because of my time at UNF.”