The MEd School Leadership Program in the Education Leadership and Foundations Department (EdLF) is undergoing a redesign. Faculty are currently in the research stage of the redesign, and the full effects won’t be seen until spring 2021. The purpose of the program will not change; rather, the redesign will provide an opportunity for faculty to ensure it is meeting its original goals while also remaining relevant in the field of leadership education.
“One of the primary goals is just to ensure that our program is preparing our graduates for the type of work that they're going to be doing,” said David Boren, director of the School Leadership Program. “Education is changing. We want to make sure we're changing with it, but changing in the right ways. The redesign is primarily to make sure that [students are] prepared for the environment that's out there.”
While giving faculty a chance for self-evaluation, the assessment has also given them the opportunity to work with other universities. Being members of the University Council for Educational Administration—a premier school leadership association—has provided faculty an opportunity to collaborate with top leadership programs from across the country. Recently, the program invited Daniel Reyes-Guerra, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology at Florida Atlantic University, and Timothy Drake, assistant professor of education leadership and policy at North Carolina State University, to meet with school leadership faculty and five partnering school districts to speak on their respective programs.
Additionally, during July of 2019, a large group of educators including Dean Mary Anne Prater, EdLF Department Chair Pam Hallam, leaders from the BYU–Public School Partnership districts, and several EdLF faculty members visited the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program at the University of Denver. The group met with Susan Korach, the ELPS department chair.
Hallam expressed appreciation for the ELPS. “I was impressed at how intentional every aspect of the University of Denver program was,” said Hallam. “From the beginning enculturation activities to the ending culminating projects, the program curriculum, research projects, internship activities, and learning retreats were clearly focused on the core program learning outcomes.”
After visiting the ELPS program in Denver, Boren and his team are determined to find a way to strengthen relationships between the School Leadership Program and surrounding school districts. “We would like to partner more closely with school districts in the redesign, not only in the redesign process but also in the delivery and assessment of the program,” said Boren. “We certainly feel supported by our districts, but we have not brought them into the process as much as these other programs have.”
“The [Denver Public Schools] superintendent told us that most of her administrators are graduates of the program, because she knows what the administrator candidates are getting in the program,” said Hallam. “They can hit the ground running when they are hired.” Now, Boren plans to learn from the ELPS model by giving the districts an active role in the redesign, with district leaders helping to design the curriculum, teach the curriculum, assess students, and identify potential students for the program.
While the redesign is a step in the right direction, Boren wants to assure students and BYU faculty that the School Leadership Program is thriving. “Sometimes when you do a redesign, people think the program is in trouble,” said Boren. “The redesign is not a response to a crisis. Our programs are very healthy. We have a lot of students and they're great. One hundred percent of the students over the last two years have said they would recommend the program or highly recommend it. We have very high satisfaction with the program.”
Boren went on to explain that the program redesign is meant to keep it at the forefront of leadership education. “We want to go through the process and make sure that we've done our due diligence and examined what we're doing very closely. Schools are changing—let's stay in front of the change. We have a good reputation, great students, great professors doing great things, but we don't want to become complacent. Just because we're doing good things doesn't mean we can't do better.”
Want to read about EdLF summer travels? Click here to see how Professor Baum’s research took him to Paris to work directly with the United Nations.
Writer: Emma Smith
Contact: Cynthia Glad 801-422-1922