Dr. Ronald Dufalla, Lecturer, Education Coordinator, Superintendent Letter of Eligibility Certificate Program and M.Ed. Secondary Education Program, Point Park University

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Ronald Dufalla, Lecturer, Education Coordinator, Superintendent Letter of Eligibility Certificate Program and M.Ed. Secondary Education Program

What programs do you teach at Point Park University? What drew you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it? 

Currently, I teach courses in both the master’s program and the Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration Program. Many of those courses are in the Principal Certification Program and the Superintendent Letter of Eligibility Program. Most of my teaching is online, but occasionally, I teach a class in the traditional face-to-face setting. In addition, I serve on several dissertation committees and have responsibilities as a university supervisor for student teachers.

I was drawn to teaching during my days in junior high school and realized that it was what I wanted to do as a career. Even in my administrative positions, I always considered myself a teacher. The only difference was the size of my classroom. There is always something new in education and education leadership that provides for opportunities at continuous improvement.  Interacting with a variety of students throughout and outside of Pennsylvania always keeps me fresh and current with those working in the field. This maintains my excitement and passion for what I do.

How will your program better prepare/equip educators for the current climate we are in, specifically with COVID-19 and online/hybrid learning? 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced practicing educators to immediately move to online and hybrid learning whether they desired to do so or not. Through the online program at Point Park University, the necessary skills and strategies currently required of educators faced by the current pandemic are modeled with educators experiencing the student side of these new learning environments.

What attracted you to Point Park University to teach at? What sets them apart? 

I was attracted to Point Park University for its emphasis on providing students with opportunities to interact with practitioners. There is a balance between theory and practice. Faculty have “walked the talk” and can prepare students to face the demands that will be placed upon them in the real world.  What also impressed me the most about Point Park University was its emphasis on students.  Without qualification, I can honestly state that this university is the most student-centered higher education institution that I have interacted with over the years. I have developed professional relationships with students that continue until this day.

What is your professional background as an educator? 

I received my B.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education from Edinboro State College (now Edinboro University of Pennsylvania), my M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Duquesne University, and my Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. During my 38-year tenure in the public schools, I served as a social studies teacher, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent. Upon retirement from public education, I contributed to the advocacy efforts of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding as a Circuit Rider for Pennsylvania schools. I worked with school boards, superintendents, and business managers in four counties for the establishment of a fair, equitable, and sustainable basic education funding formula in Pennsylvania.

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

I was fortunate to have outstanding teachers and outstanding administrators that provided the encouragement that shaped me into the education professional that I am today. Those individuals were outstanding role models and were passionate about what they did every day to support and serve the students and staff under their supervision. They exemplified that education is more than a career; it is a passion. If one is not passionate about what they do, it is highly unlikely they will be effective. I consider myself extremely passionate about what I do.

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

37 of my 38 years in public education were spent in the same school district.  The district was a small suburban district where finances were always a major concern.  As a superintendent, I wore many hats because the district did not have the financial resources to hire individuals that could address the responsibilities of a particular “hat.”  This provided me with a perspective as a superintendent that others in that position did not necessarily possess. That perspective allows me to address a myriad of situations from first-hand experiences that better prepares prospective students pursuing the Superintendent Letter of Eligibility for the demands of the superintendent position. Integrity, trust, positive professional relationships, and transparency are several of the important foundation blocks that are necessary for a successful, effective, and rewarding career in school district administration.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing their superintendent certification? How can people stand out in this field? 

The PA Superintendent Letter of Eligibility allows the holder to serve in a variety of capacities. In addition to the superintendent and assistant superintendent positions, this qualifies the holder to serve as a supervisor of curriculum and instruction, supervisor of Pupil Personnel Services, supervisor of special education, elementary or secondary or K-12 school principal, vocational education director, and director of an intermediate unit.

Even though you may not be interested in any of the positions at the current time, pursuing and obtaining the Letter of Eligibility will secure the certification you will need when you are ready to transition into any of those positions based on their availability. I believe there should be a good fit between the individual and the position. When there is a good fit, the individual can use strengths, skills, and areas of expertise to make a difference in a school district. Making a difference, however that is defined in a particular situation, allows the individual to stand out in this field.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Current students and alumni of our programs speak highly of those programs. This reinforces my personal belief on the quality of those programs. If prospective students have questions or concerns related to the programs I coordinate or the courses I instruct, I am always available at our mutual convenience for further conversations.