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Administration and Supervision Programs Moving Online


“Schools are open, leaders are leading, and the business of school is still going on,” said Dr. Debra Sullivan, the Administration and Supervision Program Chair for the School of Education. “The whole crux of this program, regardless of how it’s delivered, is that it’s grounded in job-imbedded learning. The core assignments are all real-world leadership activities that real principals do, and so online coursework is a really valid delivery method.” Dr. Siobahn Cafferty,  Clinical Assistant Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Community Engagement, agreed, saying, “We obviously had to move everything online for COVID, and once we saw it could work and the student experience was positive, we started thinking about all the ways the program could benefit from being fully online.”

The most obvious benefit to an online program is removing the need to commute to campus and the flexibility online delivery provides. But as Cafferty points out, there’s so much more. “We have a rich alumni base who are leaders in their fields across the country. They have a huge willingness to support our programs and mentor future leaders, but sometimes distance was a barrier. Now, with the programs online, we can access these scholars and have them teach small modules or a full class, which is a really fabulous thing that we’re able to bring to our programming as a result.” Key among those are people who can speak on social justice issues in education. “One of our main points of differentiation is our Jesuit identity that’s rooted in social justice. Our students and alums see themselves as men and women of Ignatius, regardless of the faith tradition they come from. Out of that flows a deep commitment to address those issues, such as disproportionality in discipline, special ed and accessibility, diversity and inclusion, and anti-racism efforts.”

The program is still structured around a cohort model, which gives students a built-in network of colleagues to rely on and problem solve with. “We use a coaching element, so that’s an added bonus partner on top of the cohort,” explains Sullivan. “Students will get challenged by their coaches about translating theory into action. They obviously carry that relationship past graduation and still have that support when they hit a snag. Let’s face it—things happen, and when you get out and are responsible for a school, it’s a very isolated position and a principal can only share so much with any of their stakeholders. To have a safe place to think and talk through all the angles, that’s huge. When our graduates get out into the field, they’re very well prepared. This greatly decreases the onboarding process, which any hiring district appreciates.”

Because of the strength of the program, we have alumni all over,” continues Cafferty. “Our leaders run some of the largest districts in the country and they’re doing a remarkable job. The reality is we want to maximize our ability to reach students and aspiring leaders across the state. Not everything is asynchronous because we know it’s critical to build in time to facilitate strong relationships both at the cohort and faculty/student level. We have set aside 2-3 Saturdays a semester for gathering as a group and bringing in sitting superintendents and principals to facilitate professional development and solving problems of practice. Together they wrestle with the types of ethical and moral leadership decisions that are typical for leaders at a building or district level, and our students become really nimble aspiring leaders. We know the experiences we provide are rich and well worth it for the students. Whether someone is working toward licensure or not, we know they can take their field experiences, self-reflection, new scholarship and research, and insight from studying abroad, and apply that to whatever professional path they choose.”

For more information on interviewing for next cohorts of any of the four programs:

  • Principal Preparation
  • Superintendent Preparation
  • Director of Special Education
  • Instructional Coaching

Please contact Debbie Sullivan info here> or <link Siobahn Cafferty info here>.