John Houser, a social studies teacher at a middle school in Missouri.

Alumni Spotlight: John Houser, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership/Principalship

John Houser graduated from Park University with an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership/Principalship and currently works as a social studies teacher for a middle school in Missouri. An educator with already five years of teaching under his belt, we asked John to tell us about his experience getting his master’s at Park University. Hear what he had to say.

Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?

As I reflect back to my youth, I think about how I struggled with my studies. I struggled with concentration, making connections with the content, and seeing myself as a successful student. I wanted to get into education to help students who had similar struggles. I want to be a guiding light for not only those students but all students.

I had a teacher who gave me the room to try, fail, and grow both socially and academically. Her guidance coupled with my parents’ pursuit of their own education helped inspire me. Now, my wife and our kids inspire me.

Why did you choose Park University for your master’s degree in educational leadership and principalship?

I chose Park University for my master’s degree in educational leadership and principalship because of their online programs. Their online programs gave me the flexibility to learn at my own pace and on the go. The accessibility of their professors helped me receive help in a timely fashion.

I also chose Park University because I was familiar with how the university runs and organizes their online classrooms. The university’s online classroom and content structure is easy to understand, follow, and use. I also liked how most of their professors had taught or led a building within the Kansas City area.

What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Park University and how do you use them today?

The skills I gained from Park University’s master’s degree program helped sharpen my critical thinking skills. Having been exposed to Park’s law for principals classes helped me see how the actions or inactions of teachers impact a school through a legal lens.

Other skills that I learned from my master’s degree experience are how to lead adults and students. How to differentiate methods from adults to students to community stakeholders is broad. Park University helped sharpen my interpersonal relationship skills in order to account for all the people I come across. The situations that Park University had me in helped me.

How has your master’s degree impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?

My degree has broaden my horizons through the experiences I gained while doing course work and the relationships I have formed with classmates and staff. These experiences have helped me understand how various educators from different backgrounds still face several of the same hurdles.

Another way my master’s degree has impacted me through my current position is it has given me the confidence to push my limits and succeed while doing so. Through the pursuit of my master’s degree, I earned respectable grades, which allowed me to achieve greater success at a higher level while maintaining my job.

What was a challenge you faced during your educational leadership/principalship program, and who or what helped you overcome it?

Being a supportive husband and father, I definitely wanted to be in my children’s lives as much as possible along with spending quality time with my wife. So, the single most important challenge I faced was how to balance my studies with my work and spending quality time with my family.

I overcame this challenge by developing a schedule of when to study, when to lesson plan and grade, and being in my family’s lives. I developed my schedule with the help of my wife, who is a great planner. Our ability to plan helped me keep the important work-life balance.

What was the biggest takeaway from your master’s program?

The biggest takeaway from my master’s program was how Park’s online program created a cohesive experience between me and my cohorts. Most of us started together and finished together. Starting and finishing together allowed us to collaborate more freely and openly as we went from one class to another.

Having the same classmates from one class to another also helped in establishing bonds between educators. These bonds were formed from the experiences we shared through course work and our experiences as educators. Establishing and maintaining these bonds helped getting information during difficult school work assignments done in a timely fashion.

What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the master’s degree in educational leadership/principalship program at Park University?

The advice I would give to prospective students considering Park University’s master’s degree in educational leadership/principalship is to embrace the fact that the program is online. Educators’ lives are packed with several responsibilities and duties. This alone makes going to a physical class a challenge. If the prospective student has a family, going to a physical class and managing work on top of both things creates an almost zero work-life-school work balance.

Taking online classes will help ease the work-life-school balance. This will also help the student focus more on the things that are most important to them.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would definitely recommend Park University for any student who likes a small and community-like atmosphere that places the emphasis on students who want to thrive. Park University helps give students the best opportunity to become future classroom and building leaders.