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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

ImageThe consistent focus throughout my career as a HS Science teacher, principal, and professor has been a passion for helping develop environments for improved learning. As a teacher, I strove to attract the struggling science student and develop  experiences and classroom systems to give under-represented children a better chance at success. As a principal, I tried to transform culture to create effective building environments. As a professor, I’ve continued that passion to help reform districts and governance systems.

District Reform

I’ve pursued the passion of helping students with my current National Science Foundation funded grant project entitled STEM Teams: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career interest, skills, and knowledge through Strategic Teaming. This initiative allows me to partner in districts with 97% African American and impoverished communities to improve the district. This is accomplished by creating teams of teachers, and school and district leaders and working to improve the implementation and sustainability of innovative curriculum and programs in the district. The current program is based in the middle school and purposes to increase the number of students of color and poverty to pursue STEM careers. This work has been presented recently at the 2012 UCEA conference and to be at the 2013 AERA meeting.  The process of district wide teaming was published in the following book chapter:

Alsbury, T. L. (2008). Promoting sustainable leadership within the reform system. In B. Hand (Ed.), Science inquiry, argument and language: A case for the science writing heuristic [177-194]. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

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School Board Governance

Another passion has been my interest in the efficacy of local control of schools through school boards. The increased centralization of schooling is evident in national movement to standardize assessment and content, and now the policy agenda seems to be focused on removing the control of schools from local community boards to a state or national level. I am currently engaged in studies of school governance in Taiwan, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Germany, and India, to name a few. I also speak around the country debating the question, “Are school boards still relevant today?” Most recently I debated this issue the ex-secretary for the office of Civil Rights before 700 school board members, members of Congress, and USDE Secretary of Education. Reactions to the debate can be found at this link: http://schoolboardnews.nsba.org/2013/01/panel-discusses-research-and-relevancy-of-school-boards/

Some of my most recent and significant writings on the school board governance include the following:

Alsbury, T. L. (In Press, 2013). Hitting a moving target: How politics determines the changing roles of superintendents and school boards . In  B.  S. Cooper, J.  G. Cibulka, & L. D. Fusarelli (Eds.)  Handbook of education politics and policy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mountford, M.  E., & Alsbury, T.  L. (2012). School boards: Nobody does it better. UCEA Review, 52(3), 11-13.

Alsbury, T.  L. (2011). Should the K-12 organizational structure of schools in the U.S. be changed dramatically? In Russo, C. [Ed.] Debating issues in American education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Alsbury, T. L.(Ed.). (2008). The future of school board governance: Relevancy and revelation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Dr. Alsbury has been a Professor in the School of Education at SPU since 2011. He teaches educational leadership courses and mentors many doctoral students. He is a recognized national expert in school board research and received the 2008 UCEA Culbertson award for influential researcher in educational leadership.

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by Jon Tienhaara

Twelve years in a small, rural school district have provided me a variety of educational experiences.  A native of Naselle (pronounced nay-sell), I have done everything from mowing the grass and fixing computers during my college summers, teaching science and mathematics to elementary, middle and high school students, to my current position of business manager and serving as one of the principals in the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District.

I have always had a passion for technology and its implications for both teaching and learning.  For example, two years ago I wrote a grant which funded a 1:1 iPad initiative for Naselle’s ninth and tenth grade classes.  Today grades 9-12 are 1:1 with iPads.  Students utilize the iPad in most all of their classes and technology is very much integrated into the school.  I also oversee our online Alternative Learning Experience school which has a larger student population than our regular brick and mortar school.  Currently, I am working with Michigan State University to bring online Mandarin Chinese to students across Washington.  

Technology plays an important role in student learning, and principals have great ability and responsibility to influence technology utilization in their schools. This is one of the reasons I am pursuing a doctorate degree at SPU.  My research interests include the role principals and superintendents play in positively and effectively integrating technology into K-12 education.  My future educational goals include a superintendency and/or professorship working in education technology leadership.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two quarters at SPU.  The doctoral program continues to be a great experience.

Follow Jon’s work at http://mrt-naselleschools.blogspot.com/

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Since the inception of doctoral programs at SPU, there have been a number of graduates who distinguished themselves professionally. In this post, four of our graduates are highlighted.

Dr. Gary Newbill earned a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from SPU in 1999. He currently serves Northwest University as Professor of Education and Dean of the School of Education. He previously served Washington school districts in a variety of roles including as teacher, personnel director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent. Gary Newbill joined the graduate faculty of educational leadership at Seattle Pacific University, preparing principal and superintendent candidates for state certification and graduate degrees. He then moved to Northwest University to head its teacher preparation program. http://www.northwestu.edu/faculty/newbill/

Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel earned the Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degree from SPU in 2004. She currently serves as superintendent of the Renton School District. She was previously Deputy State Superintendent for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for six years. Dr. Heuschel also served as a school principal, assessment specialist, and classroom teacher. Mary Alice was awarded the 2011 Washington Superintendent of the Year.

http://www.rentonschools.us/FILES/DISTRICT/Superintendent/MAH_Bio_updated_1-6-11.pdf

Dr. Duane Baker is the founder and president of Baker Evaluation, Research, and Consulting, Inc (The BERC Group). Dr. Baker served as a classroom teacher, school administrator, and assistant superintendent in K-12 schools. The BERC group is currently working on research and evaluation projects at the national, state, regional, district, school, classroom, and student levels in over 1,000 schools nationally. He earned a doctorate from Seattle Pacific University in 1999.

http://www.bercgroup.com/

Dr. Shannon Harvey is currently the Principal of Cascade Elementary School in the Renton School District, Renton, Washington. She previously served as an elementary school teacher. She earned a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from SPU in 2000. In 2008, she was given the $25,000 Milken Educator Award.

http://cascade.rentonschools.us/PrincipalsMessage

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A part of me has always known I would obtain a doctorate degree at some point. Had you asked me 20 years ago, I would have been definitive that I would pursue this education outside the state of Washington. However, when the time came to choose a program, I had two young children, aged 5 and 3 when I began, and I knew it was more important to stay close to home.

Several factors went into my choice of Seattle Pacific University. The first was somewhat simple: a friend of mine and I had decided to approach this adventure together, and she had a previous experience with SPU’s Educational Leadership program. I should say, she has a previous phenomenal experience. That, in and of itself, was enough to encourage me to apply. As I learned more about the program, several other advantages became clear. The option of some online courses appealed to me given I live on the west side of Puget Sound in Jefferson County. Further, the cohort design of the program encouraged a shared and collaborative learning experience. The emphasis on empirical research coupled with practical application was also a bonus. The fact that most courses were held on Saturdays fit well with my work and family schedule. And, perhaps the greatest benefit for me was the practical application of the knowledge and activities. I am confident that each course I completed improved my leadership skills, and that my experience in successfully completed my Ed.D. is a benefit to myself professionally, but more importantly, to the staff, students, and families I serve.

On a personal note, I gained life-long friendships with the peers in my cohort as well as deep professional relationships with the professors in the program. Having completed my degree in 2008, I have found numerous opportunities to reach out to those with whom I worked so closely while in this program. I am sincerely grateful that I was invited to join the SPU community as an adjunct professor. This opportunity continues to enhance my leadership and research skills.

This was undoubtedly the most rigorous educational experience I have ever had. With an undergraduate degree in English with a math minor, I thrive on both literature and numbers. I can honestly say I never worked harder on something than this program, but one of the reasons that the hard work was, in a sense, easy was that it was both intellectually stimulating and professionally relevant. Further, when things got hard, intellectually or emotionally, there were many, many supportive people there to lend a hand.

I cannot say enough about the wonderful experience I had. I recommend SPU to all those looking to enter education as well as those already in the field looking to “walk the talk”, so to speak, and further their own learning, skills, and knowledge.

Whitney E. Meissner, Ed.D.

Principal, Chimacum Middle & High School

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willhale/3640684126/sizes/s/,


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I initially began my doctoral journey solely for intrinsic reasons.  As a person who simply enjoys the process of learning, pursuing an advanced degree was a natural step in my life journey.  Well, that, and I also made a promise to my grandmother that no matter what it took, I would obtain my doctorate sometime during my adult life.  My doctoral journey was something that I was doing just for myself, just because I wanted to experience that particular level of challenge and engagement. 

I knew that I’d learn a lot during the course of my studies at SPU, and I knew that my studies would also further my understanding of theory and knowledge as it applies to education in general.  What I never really anticipated, however, was how useful and applicable my learning in doctoral program would be to my career.  I’m happy to report that I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I have put my learning to work in my day-to-day work life.  My doctorate has benefitted me in ways big and small in my professional pursuits, and for that I am doubly grateful that I persevered and completed the doctoral program at SPU.

Yes, it is true that having the letters “Ed.D.” after one’s name is a nice plus when you are a brand new building principal.  Staff, colleagues, parents, and even kids seem to hold a hefty respect for that level of educational pursuit.  That fact, in and of itself, has been a nice side benefit of my decision to complete the program.  There just seems to be an inherent respect for a person who undertakes and completes a rigorous course of study from a well-respected program such as the one offered by SPU’s School of Education.  However, the true professional benefit of having my doctorate runs deeper than just providing others with a positive perception of my ability. 

Prior to undertaking my doctorate, I had a basic knowledge of theory and relevant literature for the field of education, but now, I truly own the knowledge.  In talking with staff, parents, or colleagues, I have an extensive learned knowledge base that I can pull from at any time, because after the intensive degree of research offered by the program, I now just “know” the information.  Furthermore, I’m able to distill credible researchers and theorists from those who lack a basis for their conclusions.  Even more important, I am able to concisely and clearly articulate why one theorist has credence while another may not, and I can do so without jargon or confusion.  This has been enormously helpful as my building leadership team discusses pedagogical decisions for our team.  I also learned the art of staying current on research trends, which I know will pay enormous dividends as my career progresses. 

Another essential benefit to my work is the fact that the strong statistics emphasis provided in the SPU program has translated into my being able to guide my staff through assessment results in a way that I was not able to do previously.  In this era of growing accountability for student performance, understanding the way in which assessments are crafted and evaluated is of paramount importance.   Our discussions about state testing data and results were made more applicable and meaningful to our staff and students because I had the ability to clarify just what the results meant and how they translated into gains for student achievement.  I was also able to take complicated results and craft trend data that was eminently more useful in our building discussions.  Being able to handle staff questions about testing data, even highly detailed questions, felt very empowering to me and it clearly gave the staff confidence in my abilities as an instructional leader.    

I began my doctoral work with the goal of making myself a better person and offering myself the opportunity to engage in extended and meaningful discourse with like-minded students.  I concluded my doctoral work realizing thatthe experience transcended all of my expectations.  Yes, I became a better person, and yes, I ended the program with a wonderful cohort of intelligent and dedicated educators whom I now call my friends.  However, the journey transcended my expectations due to how it is benefitting not just me, but how it’s also benefitting my school community.  I am already witnessing the ripple effect of this on my staff and students.  It is my hope that I can continue to translate those small ripples into greater and greater effects on the achievement of my students.

Laurynn Evans, Ed.D.

Principal

Rose Hill Junior High School

Stella Schola Middle School

levans@lwsd.org / 425.881.2079

photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/catspyjamasnz/

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