Dr. Zachary Howard, Adjunct Professor, Ohio Principal and Superintendent Licensure Program and Teacher Leader Endorsement Program, OAESA with Concordia University Chicago, IL

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Zachary Howard, Adjunct Professor, Ohio Principal and Superintendent Licensure Program and Teacher Leader Endorsement Program

What programs do you teach at OAESA with Concordia University Chicago? What drew you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it?

I currently teach EDL 7100 – The Superintendency and EDL 6231 – Ohio: School Law for the Ohio Principal and Superintendent Licensure Program and Teacher Leader Endorsement Program. As a young school administrator, I appreciated the time I had to engage in dialogue with my peers in educational leadership positions in or outside of the school district I served through professional organizations.

I learned early on that educational leadership requires us to be collaborative, and the greatest solutions to common challenges are found when we work together and share past experiences or divergent ways of thinking. While I pursued my Doctorate of Education through OAESA with Concordia University Chicago, I became accustomed to participating in the online threaded discussions that accompany most courses. Within those discussions, I found a network of passionate educators willing to challenge or elevate my thinking.

When I was asked to consider teaching with Concordia, I was excited for the opportunity to continue engaging in meaningful conversations centered around relevant topics that prepare our next generation of school leaders for the excitement and challenges ahead of them. While I’m no longer the student, I’m still networking and learning from the students, just like I did as a student! It’s an exercise of life-long learning that keeps me excited.

How will your programs better prepare/equip educators for the current climate they are facing? How will it help them tackle today’s education challenges?

While teaching the standards and addressing the outcomes associated with each course, I’m able to modify an assignment to make sure it is relevant to the student no matter where they serve as an educator. The School Law course allows us to consider cases that are recent or “in our own backyards” so that when we’re discussing school law and the knowledge required to serve as a school leader, it’s more meaningful and relevant to the students and the districts they serve in.

By sharing hypothetical scenarios or applying past experiences from districts we’ve served in, we’re able to use our knowledge and learning for new experiences we face within our leadership positions in our districts.

What attracted you to teach at OAESA with Concordia University Chicago? What sets them apart?

I found OAESA and Concordia to be great partners while I was pursuing my doctorate. The two organizations were in sync, which is a real credit to the leaders of both organizations. As an adjunct professor, I’m comfortable teaching courses where I know they have the best interest at heart for their students.

What is your professional background as an educator?

I began teaching biology in a large suburban school district near Columbus, Ohio. Early on, I realized that I enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues to benefit the students we teach. I earned my Master of Science degree (and Principal Licensure) from the University of Dayton in Educational Leadership in 2002.

I served as a dean of students, assistant high school principal, high school principal, director of HR, and assistant superintendent in the same district I began my career in. In 2019, I earned my Doctor of Education degree from Concordia University Chicago. I currently serve as the superintendent for Mount Gilead Exempted Village Schools, a smaller rural school district in Ohio.

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

I was drawn toward teaching and coaching because, like many, I had teachers that inspired me to be a better version of myself. As a biology teacher, I hope I inspired my students in the same manner that Mr. Herrmann inspired me back in the day! As an educational leader, I can work with staff and remind them that learning starts with a positive relationship.

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

I’m in the role of the “teacher” while serving as an adjunct faculty member; what I’d like to share with my students and colleagues is that I appreciate their diverse experiences in education. I’m able to sharpen my saw by engaging with them, fellow faculty and students.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing their Ohio educational leadership licensure and endorsements? How can people stand out in this field?

Regardless of whether or not you end up being the principal or superintendent in the districts you serve, the pursuit of licensure and endorsements is a worthy adventure regardless! As educators, we all need to be lifelong learners, and leadership opportunities abound in Ohio Schools. The pursuit of learning will be worth it to the kids whether we lead a TBT or PBIS committee in our buildings or serve as the principal.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

As a student involved in the OAESA with Concordia University Chicago program, I found that the courses were very well aligned for work and life balances. Additionally, I found that many of my professional endeavors provided the experience to draw and reflect upon while navigating individual graduate-level courses. As an adjunct faculty member, the need to promote a work and life balance is not lost on me.  I’ve found that my colleagues appreciate the same. If you go through the OAESA with Concordia University Chicago program, I believe you’ll build a network of fellow professionals that are there for you as you learn, earn your degree, or even well beyond into your careers!