Shortly after Dr. Courtney Jerkins graduated from Baylor with an EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership, her husband — a newly minted Truett Seminary graduate — was called to the pastorate of a church in Washington, D.C.
Then a central-office administrator in Midway ISD in Waco, Jerkins found herself looking for employment late in the K-12 hiring cycle, in the middle of a pandemic, and in an area with a hiring freeze.
Not only did her doctoral credentials help her find a job in administration, but everything she learned in the program has been invaluable as she adjusted to a completely different culture and administrative structure in the D.C. public school system.
Jerkins is now assistant principal at John Burrows Elementary, a school serving 3-year-olds through fifth grade. Her myriad responsibilities include building operations, technology, math instructional coaching, and more.
Jerkins was among the first graduates in the School of Education’s EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership in May 2020, when seven students finished the program, which had launched three years earlier.
“Without this program, I would not have thrived in this new and very different environment,” Jerkins said. “I would have wondered why things were happening and what I did wrong. But having studied the organizational and administrative structures, I know how to approach challenges.”
The EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership is a cohort-based practitioner-oriented program for leaders of schools, educational systems, and agencies. Designed for dedicated working education professionals with weekend classes, the program prepares highly qualified practitioners to lead K-12 education institutions, while refining skills for executive positions. A new cohort begins each year in June, with Cohort Five launching in 2021. The EdD program also includes preparation for the Texas superintendent certification exam, and all of the first 2020 graduates who chose to take the exam passed it.
Dr. John Wilson, EdD program director and a former superintendent in two districts, said many of the first group of graduates had already advanced in their careers before their graduation.
“Children and education will benefit from the high character and leadership skills possessed by these May 2020 graduates, an extraordinary team of students who carried a positive vision throughout the program,” Wilson said.
The EdD program includes a mentored practicum, completed with guidance from an educational leader approved by Baylor. Jerkins said the range of experiences she encountered in her internship with Midway superintendent Dr. George Kazanas, BBA ’90, MSEd ’94 gave her a “backbone” for dealing with difficult issues.
Jerkins also said research for her dissertation is applicable to her current work, because D.C. schools use the exact teacher-evaluation system that she studied.
Another 2020 graduate, Dr. Mike Rockwood, deputy superintendent in Lamar ISD, said his dissertation research helped him advance in his career.
“My dissertation examined how effective leadership development programs are offering viable approaches for fast-growth public-school districts to systemically improve student performance,” he said. “As a result of my research and experiences, I now oversee multiple departments, including leadership development, in one of the fastest-growing school districts in Texas.”
Five more students graduated in the K-12 EdD program in May of 2021, pictured here at McLane Stadium, left to right.
Chanda Lee Bloch
Dissertation: Educational Administration: Stress and Burnout of Secondary School Principals in a Rural School District in South-Central Texas: A Case Study
Stephanie Davis Ferguson
Dissertation: Educational Administration: District of Innovation-Hired Career and Technical Education Teachers: A Study of Preparation and Effectiveness
Amanda Blaine Gilliam-Flentge
Dissertation: Educational Administration: Why Do Teachers Stay? Exploring Teacher Retention in Urban Schools
Amy Anita Sharp
Dissertation: Educational Administration: Pandemic Teaching: Application of Universal Design for Learning in Eighth-Grade English Language Arts and Reading
Dissertation: Educational Administration: Utilization of Job Choice Theory to Identify Factors Influencing Job Selection by Teachers in a Rural School District