Not everyone who comes to the School Leadership Program comes for a master’s degree. Some, like Rachel Prestwich, are seeking to add a school leadership license to the master’s degree they already have. This 12- to 16-month licensure-only (LO) program enables educators like Prestwich to enter new aspects of school administration.
For Prestwich the LO was an obvious choice. After she decided she wanted an administrative license in addition to her master’s in literacy education from the University of Utah, she found that BYU’s program was not only the shortest but also the best available locally.
“I also appreciate BYU's ties with Alpine School District and other local districts because it helps build strong connections with teachers, administrators, and professors and makes the learning relevant with district practices,” Prestwich said.
Prestwich has been particularly impressed by the emphasis on trust throughout the LO program. “One of the most beneficial things I've learned is how to build relationships of trust among the teachers and administration,” Prestwich said. “It has also helped me to see the big picture because I now have experience as a teacher and an administrator.”
Consistent with the mission of BYU, the LO program maintains a focus on the spiritual aspects of teaching; Prestwich has felt this influence in the program. “I've been reminded that the best teacher and leader was the Savior, and that even in a secular environment, I can still implement His teachings of love and service. Educators should always keep that as our focus,” she said.
The transition from the classroom to administration can be challenging for many, but those challenges are often learning experiences.
“One challenge has been learning how to problem solve in areas that I didn't have to solve as a teacher,” Prestwich said. “Those experiences are continually teaching me that building trusting relationships at work is essential to resolving all kinds of issues.”
Prestwich has been teaching elementary school in the Alpine School District since she graduated from BYU in elementary education in 2000, with the exception of one year she spent as a literacy specialist and reading recovery teacher in Washington DC. She recently moved into administration as an assistant principal at Black Ridge Elementary.
“My favorite part about being an educator is serving others,” Prestwich said. “The lasting positive influence we can have on each other as administrators, teachers, and students is what makes this career so fulfilling.”
Prestwich lives in Lehi, Utah, and sometimes spends summers in New York City. She plays the piano and the harp, and she loves theater, travel, and running.
Writer: Kirsten Clancy
Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922