Dr. Nicholas LaMantia, high school special education teacher in Pennsylvania.

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Nicholas LaMantia, Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration

Dr. Nicholas LaMantia graduated from Point Park University with an Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration and currently works as a special education teacher for a high school in Pennsylvania. Boasting multiple degrees and more than a decade in the classroom, we asked him to tell us about his time pursuing his doctorate at Point Park University.

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

My first teaching certification is in communications. For undergrad, I pursued my degree in Media and Professional Communications and I worked in radio, television, and film. Upon graduation, I was brainstorming what to do with my career and how I ended up in college for broadcasting, and I realized that I wanted to teach media. I missed the opportunity to study media in high school, and I wanted to pursue the avenue to teach that subject. My inspiration came from my undergraduate professors who showed me what media educators can do and can be.

Why did you choose Point Park University for your doctorate?

Having completed my principal’s certification at Point Park, I was familiar with some of the faculty and the school in general. I wanted to pursue a terminal degree in either communications or leadership, and I ended up choosing leadership at Point Park after looking at several Pittsburgh-area schools. At PPU, I was able to study leadership communication. Point Park and my wonderful dissertation committee headed by Dr. Helen C. Sobehart enabled me to combine my two passions and assess followers’ perceptions of their leader’s nonverbal communication.

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

Point Park enabled me to explore. This was something that I wanted. I was able to find myself as a leader and identify my strengths in authentic leadership and harness those as well as improve on my many weaknesses. Being exposed to so many leaders in and out of the education field enabled me to find many different dimensions and layers to my own situational leadership style. As I prepare to hopefully move into school leadership, I use these in my preparations for future jobs as well as in my current job where I serve as a special education teacher and Team Lead of our school’s School Wide Positive Behavior Support team.

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

Earning a doctorate has afforded me the opportunity to better understand people. It opened my eyes to the different types of leaders and followers that exist, and it has helped me work better with the adults and the students with whom I work. We, as a school, are such an interconnected web that we must understand or attempt to understand all of the points of view that exist, and that is what a doctorate has provided me in my current position. In any future position, I hope to use my doctorate to help lead a school one day. That said, I recognize that, like a good family recipe, we can always add more layers, so my terminal degree is just the beginning of my learning.

What was a challenge you faced during your doctorate program, and who or what helped you overcome it?

One of my biggest challenges was at the beginning of the program and dealing with the feeling of validity. I was one of the younger members of my cohort with many seasoned, top-notch leaders running alongside of me. It is a marathon, and we all needed each other to succeed in the program, and I could not have picked a better group of humans with which to work. When I needed to be pushed a certain way, I was pushed. When I needed to be supported, I was supported. It truly was a cohort model, and we were constantly drafting off of one another until we reached the finish line.

What was the biggest takeaway from your doctoral program?

“All Kids Can” has been my motto for years as a teacher, and it was not until halfway through my doctoral program that I realized that it should read “All People Can.” There are many underdeveloped traits in people with great potential, and as leaders, it is our job to help people realize their strengths and to help them reach their potential. We must set realistic, high expectations for our followers, and if we do, we will not be disappointed.

What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering a doctoral degree program at Point Park University?

Go for it. You will not be disappointed. Be prepared to be challenged. Be prepared to learn something new. Be prepared for the highs and lows of a mountain range full of experiences. You will be supported and cared for, but you will not be coddled. You will find mentors and friends for life. These people will be there for you in the moment and in the future. You will learn that there is so much untapped potential in every single encounter of your daily life.