James Klass graduated from Georgian Court University with his Supervisor Certification and currently works as the Supervisor of Instruction for a school district in New Jersey. After more than eight years in the classroom, James decided to forge a new path in his career in a supervisory capacity. We asked James to tell us about his experience obtaining his supervisor certification at Georgian Court University.
Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?
Looking back, it was my own educational experiences that inspired me to work in education. My fifth grade teacher in particular was instrumental in this realization. In addition to his job as a teacher, he was a positive role model during a challenging time in my life. As I grew older, I realized that seeking a career in education would allow me to have a positive impact on my students’ academic and social growth just like my fifth grade teacher did for me. The fact that a teacher can serve as both an educator and mentor continues to inspire me to this day.
Why did you choose Georgian Court University for your supervisor certification?
When looking into completing my supervisor certification, I focused my search on two things: quality of education and convenience. Georgian Court University met both of those requirements. Working full-time and having a newborn, I needed a program that offered classes close to home or online. Fortunately, Georgian Court’s program offered a hybrid model that met my needs. Not only could I complete some of my coursework at home, but I was able to meet other professionals in my cohort at several points throughout the semester to share real world experiences and learn from one another.
What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Georgian Court University and how do you use them today?
The ability to network was the most valuable skill that I was able to sharpen at Georgian Court. The program introduced me to so many educators from the area, allowing me to learn from their experiences and beliefs. In addition, my professors were practicing school administrators who were able to provide insight on real world situations that just aren’t taught in the textbook. Even after my program was complete, they were always available and willing to help, whether it entailed running through interview questions or looking over a resume. As a Supervisor of Instruction, networking has helped me to staying current on best practices and topics in education, build relationships with key stakeholders in the community, and grow from the expertise of others in the field.
How has your supervisor certification impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?
Obtaining my supervisor certification was a necessary requirement of applying for my current position as Supervisor of Instruction. Overseeing the writing of and implementation of curricula at the elementary level, carrying out teacher observations, and providing targeted professional development to staff are a daily part of my job responsibilities. The program at Georgian Court University more than prepared me for this role. In the future, I plan to obtain a second master’s degree in educational leadership. I feel that my experience of working as a Supervisor of Instruction will only benefit me in future roles, as I have greater insight into what leading my staff and students entails.
What was a challenge you faced during your supervisor certification program, and who or what helped you overcome it?
As with any new endeavor, my biggest challenge was finding a balance between work, life, and school. Although it took some time to find a routine that worked for me and my family, I was able to do so quickly thanks to the hybrid structure of Georgian Court’s program. With some of the coursework taking place online, I was able to complete assignments when it was convenient for me. Additionally, because in-person classes were only held every several weeks, I had ample time to spend at home with my family and plan accordingly for when class was held.
What was the biggest takeaway from your supervisor certification program?
The biggest takeaway from completing my supervisor certification program is that the field of education, our students, and best practices are always evolving. As educators, we must be on a constant path of learning and not become complacent in our practice. Whether a teacher or administrator, analyzing data for trends in student performance, adapting curricula, and looking for ways to meet the needs of all learners are keys to success.
What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the supervisor certification program at Georgian Court University?
Take the leap. It took me several years of hemming and hawing before making the decision to go back to school thinking it would soon get easier: easier when I made a bit more money; easier if my kids were older; easier when I was more established in my career. The reality is that nothing gets easier. We tell our children and students all the time to believe in themselves and to take chances. If you are thinking of furthering your education, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and do it. You’ll be happy you did.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
For those considering applying to Georgian Court University, know that everything from the application process to selecting courses to applying for state certification was seamless. Thank you to the faculty and staff for developing such a dynamic and affordable program in a world where the options are often overwhelming and misleading!