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Principal Certification Helps Teacher Advance

Pamela Demny already had her master’s in elementary education from another university and had been teaching elementary education for 30 years, but it was UST’s Educational Leadership Program that finally enabled her to advance to the administrator position she desired.

“I had always wanted to move up the ladder, so when my two girls went off to college, I thought, ‘Now is the time to get that certification,’” Demny said.

After checking out different options, she applied to UST’s federally funded Educational Leadership Program in the School of Education

“It was a good program for me,” she said.  “Classes were small.  Professors had real life experience in the field, so they were knowledgeable as well as personable. I got to network with classmates from other school districts and hear about what those districts were doing.”

Initially, she was a little apprehensive about being on the other side of the education experience.

“There were four of us who hadn’t been students in quite some time,” Demny said. The professors made us feel very comfortable that we could do it. There was a lot of personal attention.”

In one especially engaging activity, Demny recalled that students were given a scenario, involving discovery of a school’s campus improvement plan, which had been created inappropriately. Instead of being written collaboratively by administrators and teachers, the plan was penned by a single individual and then forgotten inside a desk drawer.

The question put to the future leaders was—How would their administrations do things differently to be collaborative going forward?

“Change is hard,” Demny said. “But you look for the teachers who are your campus leaders and start the change there by getting them on your team. Then, usually, other teachers will follow them.  It has to be done in a positive way and you have to be patient and take small steps.”

Demny said the classes prepared her very well to take the state’s exit test. Then, within months of her summer 2013 certification, opportunity knocked.

“A position here in the district opened in October, and I was hired for the assistant principal job at Nitsch Elementary in Klein ISD.”

The difference between teaching and administration?

“It’s a lot of responsibility.”

But Demny welcomes the challenge. She plans to get more experience under her belt and then, should the opportunity arise, advance to the role of principal.

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