Cathryn Petticrew-Rice graduated from OAESA with Concordia University Chicago with a Superintendent Licensure Only degree, currently works as an elementary school principal, and is an OAESA board member.
As an educator who has utilized her licensure to lead a school building and inspire children to love learning and use what they learned outside of the classroom, we asked Cathryn to tell us about her time pursuing her master’s degree at OAESA with Concordia University Chicago.
Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?
When I began my education career twenty-six years ago, my goal was to inspire children to love school and ignite their passions, creativity, and curiosity. As a student, I had several teachers along the way that differentiated instruction for my classmates and me (though at the time, I didn’t know that’s what they were doing).
Several of my classmates and I worked on independent projects and were permitted to develop how we shared our learning. As I got older, those opportunities did not present themselves as often, but I never forgot how excited I was to learn about my chosen topics and ideas. I was fortunate enough to begin my teaching career in the same building where I grew up and many of my former teachers were still teaching.
They became mentors for me in their ways, and I took “the best” of their talents to combine them with my own ideas to begin working with children. I hope that the students in my classroom began to love learning and have continued that beyond the walls of my classroom!
Why did you choose OAESA with Concordia University Chicago for your Superintendent Licensure?
As a board member for OAESA with Concordia University Chicago for years, I knew many colleagues who had attended Concordia’s many different programs. When I decided to pursue my Superintendent License, I investigated many options. Still, it was the flexibility of OAESA’s program as well as the program cost that solidified my decision. I found the enrollment, registration, and actual courses accessible and manageable, even in the midst of 2020 when the pandemic first began!
What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at OAESA with Concordia University Chicago and how do they benefit you in today’s educational climate?
It was incredibly beneficial to engage with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and share experiences. Additionally, the program allowed me to gather ideas for utilization in my own experience as a current administrator. The superintendent licensure program provided me with a wider lens of district operations, functions, and board relations. Engaging in a mentorship also provided me with a deeper understanding of many concepts that helped me review and provide feedback regarding human resources and district policies and procedures.
How has your Superintendent Licensure impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?
The superintendent licensure has provided me with more context for understanding district-level decisions. It has also provided me with the flexibility to pursue other opportunities as they arise for the next phase of my career.
What was a challenge you faced during your Superintendent Licensure program, and who or what helped you overcome it?
I began my coursework in January 2020. One of the biggest challenges was the pandemic. Like so many others, the entire way we had to navigate teaching and learning pivoted in a way that none of us had ever experienced. As a building principal, this changed how I managed and supported my staff and students.
This was one of the blessings of selecting OAESA with Concordia University Chicago for my coursework. Being entirely online already allowed me to have the flexibility I needed to face the challenges of being a principal during a pandemic. Another challenge was the final phase of my program, which included the internship. I will say the faculty and site supervisor were incredibly supportive and assisted in ensuring that every facet of my internship was successful.
What was the biggest takeaway from your Superintendent Licensure program?
The Superintendent Licensure gave me a greater appreciation for the role of superintendents. While the job of a building principal is incredibly complex, the role of a superintendent also includes navigating and managing board relations, community engagement, and a deep level of understanding district finances. I feel my program allowed me to gain these skills and more.
What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the Superintendent Licensure program at OAESA with Concordia University Chicago?
Talk to the university graduates; I guarantee they will tell you the program is comprehensive and robust while also being flexible, affordable, and manageable.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Regardless of your future plans, I would encourage all current building principals to join OAESA and complete a Superintendent Licensure program. OAESA will connect you with colleagues across the state and provide state and national updates that impact how we perform our jobs. The university also connects us with professional learning opportunities to continue to grow as professionals, like the licensure program.
Finally, pursuing the Superintendent Licensure will provide insight and needed perspective regarding understanding the other departments and their functions within the school district and will bring clarity to the decision-making process at the district level. I’m grateful to OAESA with Concordia University Chicago for the rich experience provided!