Dr. Gerald Anthony graduated from Point Park University with a School Principal Certificate and currently works as a Board Member and Chairman of Special Education Network and Inclusion Association (SENIA)-Beijing, Keystone Academy, as well as School Counselor/Deputy Child Safeguarding Officer. Already an accomplished educator, we asked him to share with us his experience pursuing his certification at Point Park University.
Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?
Education was not my first love but seems like it will be my last. Education is a culmination of all the things I love in life. It all started when a math teacher took the time to encourage a young unmotivated student not with words, but with actions. I was a pupil that always had knowledge but did not have wisdom or motivation. This teacher saw that I was not putting forth effort, so they decided to pull me aside after class and ask me to see the class grade book.
She asked me, “What do you see?” She asked me twice, and I had no response either time. I did however notice the below average achievement marks besides my name. This teacher told me in so many words that my score was close to other students with twenty percent effort, imagine what I could do with full one hundred percent effort.
This moment taught me that I was someone of incredible ability. More importantly, it taught me that teachers (and now head teachers as the principal) were individuals that could motivate, inspire, and influence generation after generation.
Why did you choose Point Park University for your principal certificate?
Point Park had several features that were extremely attractive to me as an administrator. The first feature was accessibility. I am an expat currently living overseas so I needed a fully online program. The second feature was I also needed a recognized program that would lead to proper principal certification in case I moved back to the U.S. with my family to enable job security.
Additionally, the tuition was affordable for someone having to finance their certification out-of-pocket and not sponsored by an educational institution. Fourth, Point Park also offered great service to help transition me into the program. Ms. Lauren Mackowiak was fantastic! Finally, not in order of importance, was rigor. The program was both comprehensive and challenging. Point Park offered all these factors that made them the clear choice.
What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Point Park University, and how do you use them today?
I had three major learned skills and infinite minor takeaways from the Point Park Principal Certification Program. I wish to briefly discuss those major skills previously mentioned.
The first take away was that there is an evaluative or administrative component as well as the often overlooked supervisory or pastoral component to the position. The second was that creating systems is necessary to keep a school functioning, but also able to be dynamic.
My final great takeaway was the importance of using data to make decisions. I picked up key skills of implementing a complete job description, creating and identifying systems that are thriving, developing, or lacking, and using data-driven decision making from this program.
How has your school principal certificate impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?
My principal certification has allowed me to be competitive for senior leadership positions at international schools of my choosing. My principal certification has been a shining spot on my resume that has allowed me to have a surprising 100% interview invite success rate. I currently am in the process of moving from the equivalent of a pastoral vice principal to a key or head role in student life program for a key international boarding school abroad.
What was a challenge you faced during your principal certification program, and who or what helped you overcome it?
One of the greatest challenges I faced during this program was finding balance between family, work, and completing the program. Ms. Mackowiak did a good job of communicating this challenge during my enrollment process. This sparked my natural planning attribute, and I developed a system to counter this challenge. During the period of time to complete the program, I ended up chunking my time into key periods of work, family and studying. These firm boundaries helped me complete the program and Praxis II test successfully.
What was the biggest takeaway from your principal certificate program?
If I had to put my finger on one key nugget from the program it would lie in the practicum period. The time with my principal supervisor was incomparable. The first and second practicum culminated to teach me the lesson that growth requires two Ps: planning and patience. Originally, I wanted to jump straight into being a school principal. From the program I learned that this would not only be a challenge for myself, but also a challenge for the school where this would take place. It is better to progressively enter into this role from a vice principal position and transition from supporting a principal’s vision to creating a new vision as principal.
What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the school principal certificate program at Point Park University?
I would tell them that price does not always equate to quality. There are several programs that are very comprehensive without having to require excessive amounts of finance. Look at program requirements, certifications, links to departments of education, and coupling with the Praxis II exam. A good program like Point Park includes all of these components.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
If you are considering becoming a principal, I would encourage you to understand the responsibility that comes with this position. A principal is not just a position that has great power without reason. As a principal you have the opportunity to influence not only students but create a positive change in your faculty of teachers, your school operational staff, plus your immediate and surrounding communities. I would want all candidates to begin this path with serious considerations: How do I serve? What is my vision of impact?
Thank you, Point Park University, for a wonderful life-changing program.