Courtney Bartlett graduated from Carson-Newman University with an Ed.S in Administrative Leadership and currently works as Director of Learning at LearningRX in Tennessee. We asked Courtney to tell us about her time at Carson-Newman University and pursuing her education specialist degree in administrative leadership. Read what she had to say below.
Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?
I wanted to work in education because I always desired to work with children. Growing up, I loved babysitting and working with kids at church. At first, I believed that I wanted to go into child psychology but knew that wouldn’t be a fit once I explored that option further.
When I was in elementary school, I saw my dad pursue his own dream of being a teacher. Once he graduated from school, there were no jobs available in teaching business so he began working with his dad. He went back to get his math certification and was still very invested in being a teacher. He worked so hard to make it work while being a parent, working to earn an income, and going to school. Once he started teaching, I saw how he was living out his purpose; this inspired me to explore education for myself.
When I did my student teaching, I knew that teaching was for me. I was very passionate about helping children and being the best teacher I could be. I had some amazing teachers throughout the years that I modeled myself after when I began teaching elementary school.
Why did you choose Carson-Newman University for your administrative leadership degree?
I chose Carson-Newman University for my administrative leadership degree because it was so incredibly easy to get started. They made it so simple and I didn’t have time to talk myself out of starting. Initially, I was worried about the time required to be successful in my classes on top of teaching full-time. However, Carson-Newman made sure to address any concerns and made it easy to fit into my schedule.
I was able to easily manage both my job and the program. During the school year, the program was designed to take fewer classes. I was able to take more over the summer when I had less going on with my job. This allowed me to continue teaching at a high level while also pursuing my goal of graduating with my Ed.S in Administrative Leadership.
What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Carson-Newman University and how do you use them today?
During my time at Carson-Newman, I sharpened my collaborative skills. In an online environment, communication was very different than I had experienced previously. I learned how to be direct, concise, and work with others virtually. This has become a crucial skill over the past year with how much communication is needed when moving to a virtual environment.
Also, I learned how to become a leader. One of my projects was to present to the teachers at my school. A colleague, who was also in the program, and I worked on a presentation about working with gifted students and presented this to the teachers at my school. Our presentation was very well received and helped me adjust my teaching of gifted students over the following years.
How has your Ed.S. Administrative Leadership degree impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?
Currently, I teach a teacher education class at the college level. This degree has opened doors for me because my classes have easily translated into working with my own class of college students. Because I completed my classes online when I was at Carson-Newman, I was able to easily adjust to virtual classes when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. I drew on my experience and what worked for me as a student to deliver effective instruction for my college students.
I also work as an educational consultant and coach for teachers. My Carson-Newman classes opened doors that would not have been available to me without this degree. I am better prepared to work with teachers due to my focus on administrative leadership. Additionally, I understand my own leadership style and what works best when working with a group of teachers.
What was a challenge you faced during your administrative leadership program, and who or what helped you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge for me was adjusting to the online format. I am fairly good with computers but I had never taken an online class. With the asynchronous classes, it was sometimes difficult to figure out what was required. I devoted extra time at the beginning of the class to orienting myself to the course layout, syllabus, and instructor’s style to figure out my schedule and how I can be successful in the course. This style of learning requires a large amount of self-motivation and I was able to focus on my goals to maintain my motivation.
Another challenge was studying for the GRE test to finalize my admission. I was a bit nervous about taking the test because I had not studied higher math for a few years. Fortunately, I found many different resources online to help me with studying. I spent most of the summer before the program studying and took the GRE at the end of the summer. The test wasn’t as difficult as I had envisioned in my head and I was able to pass on the first try.
What was the biggest takeaway from your administrative leadership program?
In one of my courses at Carson-Newman University, we studied a variety of different leadership theories. I specifically remember analyzing my personality and leadership style to figure out how I could become an effective leader. I determined that servant leadership was very appealing to me and I have been able to develop my leadership skills based on my learning in this course. I believe that servant leadership allows others to grow and takes the focus off the leader. I have also learned how to build my listening skills and focus on the needs of the community.
What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the Ed.S. in Administrative Leadership at Carson-Newman University?
My advice to prospective students is to take the leap and advance your education. The content I learned was valuable to my teaching journey and my future in education. I have been able to explore many different opportunities because of this degree. In teaching, I felt that I had reached my limit in how much I could grow. By investing in this program, I was able to open many more doors for myself and work with teachers and future teachers, which was my ultimate goal.