Dr. Tim Briles, Associate Professor of Education; Chair, Department of Administration and Leadership at Georgian Court University

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Tim Briles, Associate Professor of Education; Chair, Department of Administration and Leadership

What programs do you teach at Georgian Court University? What drew you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it?

I have taught in the Teacher Preparation program, the mathematics department, and am currently the chair of the Administration and Leadership program. In the Administration and Leadership program we pride ourselves on the blending of theory and practice.

Our tremendous faculty all have significant real-world experience. You will not just read theories out of a textbook. Our full-time and adjunct staff are current leaders in this field. We have multiple past New Jersey Superintendents-of-the-Year, along with current administrators that are leading districts in these trying times.

This is what excites me – the ability to be a part of something bigger than myself. We are all a part of this venture known as education and the faculty, staff, and students in the Administration and Leadership program are all working together to improve the current state of education.

How will your program better prepare/equip educators for the current climate we’re in (specifically with COVID-19 and the move to online/hybrid learning)?

We talk so much about the ability to lead and adapt. My first day as an administrator was 9/11/2001. There is nothing that I could have memorized from a textbook or a theory I could have quoted that could have prepared me to lead that day. I had to take what I had learned and apply it to a new situation.

I would argue the same holds true for an educational leader in the COVID-19 Pandemic. We all had to use our best judgement, adapt to the current situation, while always keeping the students’ best interests at heart. We are here for them – their academic success is paramount along with their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

What attracted you to Georgian Court University to teach at? What sets them apart?

The opportunity to continue my professional career at the college level was the first thing that attracted me to Georgian Court University. I had been learning and preparing to make the jump to higher ed for some time, and the opportunity at GCU was perfect for me.

I believe what sets Georgian Court University apart is the idea that we personally know and care about our students. Our Provost often uses the phrase “relationships matter.” It is not just a phrase but rather an ethos at GCU. We know our students, we know their strengths, and we try to help them build on their weaknesses. I have been here 14 years and have never had more than 25 students in any of my classes. We know the students personally, not by a number. We design a curriculum with national standards and best practices as a guide but also can tailor the curriculum to our students’ needs.

What is your professional background (including degrees) as an educator?

I have an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania, and also a degree in Higher Education Administration from Penn. I then completed my degree in Educational Leadership from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. I taught for nine years at the secondary level in both public and private schools. The last five years in high school, I was also a vice principal and dean of discipline. This is my 14th year at Georgian Court University.

Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you become interested in education?

I grew up in education. My father was a teacher and coach for over 40 years and my older brother is now approaching 30 years in the field. I began tutoring when I was in middle school, and I enjoyed the impact that I could have helping others to understand things. There were times in my life where I wanted to do other things, but I always kept coming back to education. It is one field where you can have a significant effect on someone’s life.

What would you tell prospective students considering your program about yourself? What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?

The first thing that people usually notice about me is my passion for the field. Whether you agree with my points of view or disagree, no one can question whether or not I am in this for the right reasons. I care only about one thing: that my students learn and are prepared to be the next generation of educational leaders. I use this as a measuring stick for all of my decisions – would I want this candidate to be the administrator in my children’s school?

Everything we do in the program is to help prepare the administrative candidate to hit the ground running and be successful from day one. There is no “pre-season to practice test” for being an administrator. You need to know what you are doing from the time that you sign your administrative contract.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing their administration and leadership degree? How can people stand out in this field?

When I first came to Georgian Court University, a longtime professor gave me a great piece of advice. She said, “Tim, do you like being a teacher?” I said, “Of course, you can have a great impact on your students’ lives.” She said, “Now you can have an even greater impact, because you are now making decisions that affect not just your students, but all of the students in the school.” That has never left me. As an administrator, you make decisions on a daily basis, that affect every student in the school. We are preparing people to have a systemic impact along with a personal one. I challenge my students every semester to make a positive impact on their school.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I have worked for over 20 years in various roles in education; from special education aid, to classroom teacher, to high school administrator, to college professor, to college administrator, and yet I still love going to work every day. There is rarely a day that goes by when someone does not teach me something new. I was once told that 20th-century literacy was the ability to read and write. 21st-century literacy will be the ability to learn, unlearn, and then relearn something new. I am learning, unlearning, and relearning everyday, and I hope that more students will come and help Georgian Court University to join this journey with me.