Smiling graduate standing in line holding her diploma.

How My Doctorate Degree from Carson-Newman University Helped Advance My Career

Going back to school for my doctorate was not on my radar in the early part of my teaching career. Then, with the inspiration of a female administrator, I began to see that this could be accomplished and was a feasible path to follow.

I graduated with an Education Specialist degree in school leadership and passed the exam to become a school administrator. I wasn’t actively seeking an administration job, as I loved teaching younger children. However, as time went on, there was something stirring inside of me as I watched my friend and mentor lead her school across town. I watched as more and more women were hired into administrative positions, so I began to apply and interview for open administrative positions.

After a few years, I determined that the majority of the administrators in our county had doctorate degrees and that if I truly wanted to become an effective administrator, I needed to embark on this journey. I applied at Carson-Newman and found colleagues who had been or were currently going through the program who became my cheerleaders. After my second year of the program, I interviewed for an assistant principal job at a local school and was able to say that within a year I hoped to complete my doctorate degree. I was hired and began my career as an administrator.

I can’t imagine not having gone back to school and succeeding in this job. The Carson-Newman courses provided me with resources and knowledge on administering a school, dealing with various scenarios, and improving my leadership skills. In addition, the professors were open to my asking questions and helped me work through situations as they arose in my new career. Most importantly, I have developed a philosophy that I rely on daily. My coursework taught me that administration is not just a job, it is about building a culture and leading with rapport. I had a class that walked me through various leadership styles and helped me analyze and develop my own. Amazingly, this was one of my interview questions, and I was able to answer with confidence. I also had a course of Professional Learning Communities (PLC), and now that is one responsibility I have taken charge of leading because I feel competent in this area. Our school is a true learning community, and I learned how to inspire teachers to become leaders and encourage them to enhance their own knowledge through my coursework. As an assistant principal, I attend many I.E.P. meetings. My law classes helped me in this matter, as well as others that arise frequently. I keep many of my course texts in my office and refer to them as needed.

The Carson-Newman program is by far one of the best investments I could have made in furthering my career. I will always enjoy teaching, but the coursework prepared me to be an effective administrator, a job I truly love.