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By Robin Henrikson

The coursework at SPU for my doctoral program has been quite fulfilling. To be perfectly honest, I have learned more than I thought I would and have been challenged to grow in many ways, including improvement in my knowledge about my specialization, growth in my writing skills and in my ability to understand statistics. Perhaps most important has been growth in my self-confidence and in my ability to critically examine new research, initiatives and programs to help advise and support educators in making decisions about programs for their schools.

My area of specialization is in professional development and pre-service teacher preparation. I have been able to design a doctoral program that met my needs with a combination of coursework, independent study and hands-on experiences that will enable me to be prepared to work in a variety of positions within my area of expertise once I have completed the program. One of the main reasons I wanted to pursue my Ph.D was to help support leaders in the improvement of their schools and to support pre-service, novice and experienced teachers so they are competent and prepared to be effective teachers.

This program has been challenging and I have had to learn how to be disciplined. Balancing school, part-time work as a math and professional development specialist as well as a wife and mother of three young children is no simple task, not to mention the more than two hour commute one way just to take classes. However, throughout my time in this program so far, I have had support from different professors, each offering me a different way to grow through their unique teaching styles. I have also built great relationships amongst other doctoral students. The flexibility of taking night, weekend and online classes has allowed me to pursue my degree whereas I would not have been able to without that type of coursework design.

I am happy with my experiences at SPU and once I am finished with my program I will be a stronger person in many ways including academically, emotionally and professionally. I thank God for the support He has given me throughout the past two years.

When I am finished with this program my goals are to pursue a career working at a university where I can continue to support teachers, whether they are at the beginning of their career or a veteran. I feel confident that this program has prepared me to do that.

Robin Henrikson is a student in SPU’s Ph.D. in Education program. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Seattle Pacific University. She holds Washington state certification in Special Education K-12, General Education K-8, and Building Principal. Robin served as a middle school special education and mathematics classroom teacher before becoming a teacher leader. She currently works as a Professional Development Specialist for the Olympic Educational Service District 114 in Bremerton, WA. She is married and the mother of three children.

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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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