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Queens University of Charlotte Campus

Online M.A. in Educational Leadership Virtual Open House

Below is the transcript to the most recent online M.A. in Educational Leadership Virtual Open House. To view the original recording, go here.


[00:02:39.68] ANN GOROWSKI: All right. Good evening, everyone. My name is Ann Gorowski, and I'm a program manager for the master's in educational leadership here at Queens University of Charlotte. Tonight we'll be sharing some details about the online master's in educational leadership program and how this program at Queens can provide an excellent learning experience and prepare you for the challenges of school administration.

[00:03:01.15] You'll hear directly from our program director, Doctor Linda Dunlap. Then we'll tell you more about the innovative learning platform. And finally, we'll go over admissions requirements before opening to questions.

[00:03:20.90] Before we get started, here's a brief background on Queens University of Charlotte. The master's in educational leadership is offered through the Cato School of Education at Queens. Queens is a private coed university founded in 1857 in Charlotte, North Carolina. We're ranked number 18 among regional universities in the South by US News and have regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

[00:03:50.37] Now I'd like to introduce you to our special guest speaker tonight, Doctor Linda Dunlap. Doctor Dunlap is the director of the online master's in educational leadership program at Queens. And she also designed the curriculum. She is a seasoned professor and has served in various leadership roles in education, including as a school principal.

[00:04:10.04] Doctor Dunlap, good evening. Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background?

[00:04:14.55] LINDA DUNLAP: Good evening. I would love to. I knew in fifth grade I wanted to be a teacher because I helped Danny read out in the cafeteria. But in those days, if you didn't have a lot of money, you didn't get to go to college because we didn't have all the loans and grants that are available today. It was many years later that I realized my dream, after I was married and was a mom.

[00:04:35.23] And then, when I finally finished my degree, well-- I shouldn't say finally. I finished it in two and a half years. I was pretty proud of that. I obtained a position in my county in sixth grade and sixth grade in music. And I had the time of my life. I sang and played the piano all afternoon and got paid to do it.

[00:04:51.17] I taught nine years and then went to higher education and began to work with pre-service teachers. I was also an interim department chair at a college in the middle of West Virginia, as well as coming back to my home county to become a principal. After I moved to Charlotte, I was head of the School of Education here in Charlotte. Was also Director of the Regional Alternative Licensing Center, which is the regional office of the Department of Public Instruction.

[00:05:16.31] I directed teacher education initiatives at Central Piedmont Community College. And now I'm at Queens, where I'm working with aspiring school principals and loving every minute of it.

[00:05:25.85] ANN GOROWSKI: Fantastic. Thank you for such a great background on you.

[00:05:30.23] LINDA DUNLAP: I loved every minute of it. I had no negatives.

[00:05:32.97] ANN GOROWSKI: Fantastic. Great. Well, we are very glad you could make it tonight. So thank you. I'm sure we will have some great question for you throughout the presentation.

[00:05:41.43] LINDA DUNLAP: I hope so.

[00:05:42.28] ANN GOROWSKI: I'm sure we will. Well, let's now take a look at the curriculum. The master's in educational leadership is a comprehensive [INAUDIBLE] successfully run and improve a school. Each educational leadership course is designed to help you prepare for the challenge of school administration, from building a community to resolving disputes to mastering the finances that keep your school running. So Doctor Dunlap, could you tell us a little bit more about the nuts and bolts of the curriculum and how the course content reflects the modern issues faced by school leaders today?

[00:06:18.56] LINDA DUNLAP: Yes. Our program consists 11 three-semester hour courses, which is a total of 33 hours. Each semester we cover two courses, which puts us what I call into a fast track to complete the program. It's an eight week-eight week.

[00:06:33.95] We begin by looking at leadership from a global perspective. As our world becomes smaller, we have to focus on how to ready our students to compete globally. And I challenge students to think beyond our borders into the world itself. Other courses include School Law and Ethics, my very favorite is School Law. So important for principals to know.

[00:06:56.15] We talk about working with all community stakeholders, not just parents and teachers and central office, but people out in the community as well who have a stake in education. We talk about curriculum development implementation. And, of course, that [INAUDIBLE].

[00:07:11.12] Just let me quickly say that our program is a little different because we're based on five essential questions from Doctor Victoria Bernhardt's research with principles across the country. And she's been a professor. She's been in leadership and now is managing one of her own, Eye on Education executive director. But she graciously gave us permission to use her work.

[00:07:32.71] And what I like about it is candidates began gathering data right out of the gate. The very first class we start looking at what our school looks like, how are we doing business. Then we progress through the program and we look at targets, we look at gaps. And we finally design an action plan for continuous school improvement. And of course always I have to mention that our foundation is the North Carolina Standards for School Executives.

[00:07:56.17] ANN GOROWSKI: All right. That was a great explanation and examples of the curriculum and courses that the students will be taking. Now with this, the students also completed an internship under a principal to really gain real world leadership experience. Could you tell us a bit more about the internship component and how it's structured, how the student incorporates the in-person internship experience into their online course environment?

[00:08:21.47] LINDA DUNLAP: Yes, ma'am. The final two courses in our program-- actually six hours of that 33-- will be the internship classes. And there the candidate will fulfill those requirements in their own schools. And we give them a list of expectations and activities in which they will need to engage.

[00:08:40.72] But they also sit down with their mentors or principals and design other activities that they will be doing along the way. And once again, all the while, we're being sure that we're meeting the North Carolina standards. And then we'll have times online where we'll talk about what we're doing. We're gonna use Mediaspace and video to communicate events in the internships of other members of the class.

[00:09:04.33] And I plan to get out and visit as many schools as I can if it's in driving distance so I can get there. I want to meet the candidates and their mentors during those internship courses.

[00:09:14.62] ANN GOROWSKI: Fantastic. That would be great. Thank you for such a great explanation of what the internship is. Now let's take a look at why to pursue a master's in educational leadership. This program will prepare you, the student, for K-12 principal licensure in North Carolina. Those of you outside North Carolina should check with your school district just to confirm reciprocity.

[00:09:37.19] This degree is more than just the path to licensure, though. It's a program that will transform you with the practical and intangible skills needed to be an effective leader and make a difference for your students.

[00:09:50.10] Doctor Dunlap, could you elaborate on how this program really prepares teachers to lead as effective principals?

[00:09:56.54] LINDA DUNLAP: Yes. And that's what I really like about the five essential questions, where we're really thinking as administrators. We move beyond our little classroom and we're thinking about the building as a whole. And I probably do not need to say that the buzzwords out there these days are data-driven instruction. And so it's my dream that principals who complete our program will know how to gather and synthesize data on the first day they're in their buildings.

[00:10:24.14] And then not only to synthesize it and gather it, but to lead instructional change with that data. Because as most of us know, principals are now the instructional leaders. We've moved away from principals who were discipline managers and they are the instructional leaders. So that's why I love these five essential questions where we're looking at the buildings in which we serve and coming up with a plan to improve what they're doing.

[00:10:47.96] Another reason that I'm all for continuous school improvement is because it's written all over the evaluation tool for principals in the state of North Carolina. So the first year new principals are in their positions, they will be evaluated on that tool, especially here in North Carolina. And they'll know all about continuous school improvement once they complete our program.

[00:11:12.15] ANN GOROWSKI: Great. Great, thank you. It's really great to hear how prepared our students will be and how they'll be effectively able to run a school upon the completion of our program. Let's take a further look into why to pursue a master's. As you can see with this slide, the statistics on the screen show that good principals improve school performance across the board. And principals today emphasize the importance of leveraging data to drive improvement.

[00:11:41.14] The curriculum at Queens will equip you with the critical skills to plan and implement real strategies for improvement to ensure the success of your students and teachers. Could you tell us why-- Doctor Dunlap, why it's important for principals to be comfortable working with statistical data? I know you just kind of touched on that. But could you go a bit further as to why it is important for them to be comfortable using statistical data?

[00:12:05.52] LINDA DUNLAP: Yes. Because that's one of the big expectations nowadays. And I always say to candidates thinking about our program, once you become comfortable with data, that's certainly going to be a shoe-in when you interview for your first position. When you can say to a team, a selection team, I've already done this. I know the importance and I know why what I can do with data to improve instruction. So that's why it's so important, because you'll already be trained as to how to do this.

[00:12:35.74] ANN GOROWSKI: Fantastic. Great. Thank you for going into a little bit further detail on that. Now let's look as to why you should pursue your master's at Queens University of Charlotte. Queens, as an institution, offers a supportive learning environment with small class sizes in which the faculty and staff know you personally and are invested in your success.

[00:12:56.80] This individualized attention carries over into our online programs. Queens offers students a strong sense of community and the relationships you build with your faculty and classmates will prove invaluable when you step up into a leadership role. Many alumni who work in administration keep in touch with professors and classmates to help each other as they do face new challenges in their schools.

[00:13:20.30] Doctor Dunlap, why are mentorships and internships so crucial for aspiring school teachers, and how is this really emphasized throughout the program?

[00:13:28.66] LINDA DUNLAP: Well, research shows that the most important part of a teacher education program is the student teaching practicum. And I think we can all agree with that research. And by the same token and certainly in line with a lot of educational theorists, the hands-on learning in the internship is vitally important to becoming an effective principal.

[00:13:46.56] We learn the most by doing. That's what the internship is designed to be. So as we work alongside experienced mentors and principals, we are given the opportunity to see firsthand what school executives do. And I've had students say to me, I've watched my principal handle that situation and now I'm comfortable with doing it should I have to in my school. And that's what it's all about. That hand-on learning.

[00:14:10.79] ANN GOROWSKI: Fantastic. Fantastic. Thank you. So to do really reiterate what Doctor Dunlap is saying, a personalized level of support and mentorship is especially important for educators like you who are looking to develop your leadership skills and take on the complex challenges of school administration. And really through ongoing support from the faculty, as well as principal mentors, you'll have access to experienced leaders who can really guide you on the path to leadership.

[00:14:36.61] LINDA DUNLAP: You know, Ann--

[00:14:37.48] [INTERPOSING VOICES]

[00:14:38.37] ANN GOROWSKI: Oh, yeah. Go ahead.

[00:14:39.56] LINDA DUNLAP: TO interject here, I keep in contact with my students. Matter of fact, I had a former student who's a dean of students call me just this afternoon. So I try to-- they have my contact numbers. I don't turn off the telephone once they complete their degree. I'm here. I'm in contact with them.

[00:14:58.24] Just spoke recently with one of the girls who's now an assistant principal that graduated from our program. So I try to keep in contact with them as well. If there are questions or ways that I can point them to someone for help, I'm there.

[00:15:09.37] ANN GOROWSKI: That's fantastic. Just to know that you'll have that ongoing level of support within our department, within our school. That's fantastic to hear. Thank you.

[00:15:20.12] Really in addition to that as well, the online format of our program allows you to really focus in on one class at a time. So the way it's set up is that each class lasts eight weeks, but by doing this and taking one class at a time and focusing in one class at a time, you are still set to finish your master's within a two-year time frame. And our tuition is among the most affordable for private regionally accredited universities.

[00:15:47.28] And all of this is available to you in a convenient online format. There is no on-campus residency required and courses are asynchronous, so there's no specific time that you must be logged in. Our program is designed to offer working teachers the opportunity to really balance personal, professional, and academic life needs. For some of you, this may be your first experience with distant education and you may have questions or hesitations about what it's like a study online, but here at Queens we designed our program to offer the same quality of education offered on campus but in a flexible format.

[00:16:24.32] We offer extensive support to our online students in a unique learning platform that really enables you to stay engaged with coursework and interact with your instructors and the fellow students regularly. So now let's go ahead and take a closer look at the online platform called My Courses.

[00:16:44.42] Students will have access to course lectures and assignments via a virtual classroom called My Courses with the various interactive features to help you optimize your learning, stay engaged, and really feel like a part of the Queens community. This is the home page of My Courses. It provides quick access upcoming assignment, course announcements, and your calendar. So the latest lectures and even videos from your professor, if they post them, are going be accessible from this home page.

[00:17:14.40] And as you can see, the instructor's contact info is in the upper right-hand corner. There's a course wall where you can post quick updates to your classmates and faculty. And you can see who's online at the same time you are. And it's also easy to stay in touch with your peers throughout the program and really engage in conversations about assigned readings using the discussion forums and integrated Skype video and chat features as is displayed on the screen.

[00:17:50.21] And one of the really unique features about My Courses is the built-in electronic portfolio tool. With this you can create a digital resume and really collect your best coursework and accomplishments in one place to showcase to your employers online. On top of all these great features, My Courses is fully accessible on a tablet or mobile device, so you can really do your homework from just about anywhere.

[00:18:14.37] Doctor Dunlap, how do you use My Courses to really foster engagement among your online students?

[00:18:19.86] LINDA DUNLAP: One of the richest parts of my classes, I think, are the discussion posts. I had just been amazed at how students will converse back and forth in that discussion. In fact, the group I just began-- I finished them a week ago, the first group for the fall. We had some of the best discussions that I think I've ever had in a leadership program. More so than even the on ground classes that we all think we can't do without because they're so good to come back at each other and to give personal experiences and talk about what they're doing in their schools.

[00:18:54.12] And I was just amazed. I had to say to them in an announcement, you all just never cease to amaze me at how deeply they go in to these discussions and really make everybody just kind of feel a part. I feel a part. That's the part I like the best.

[00:19:08.23] ANN GOROWSKI: [INAUDIBLE].

[00:19:08.87] LINDA DUNLAP: [INAUDIBLE] space we have one class where we do a project, a group project. And they Skype each other and use different media there to work with each other. So that's the kind of things we-- and I really said to some of my colleagues the other day, some of the best discussions I've ever had in the leadership class was this group we just finished.

[00:19:29.40] ANN GOROWSKI: That's fantastic. And I love hearing how you really welcome and encourage students to really bring forth stories and learning experiences from their personal experiences and bring that to the classroom and foster that conversation with students. That's great to hear.

[00:19:44.36] LINDA DUNLAP: [INAUDIBLE].

[00:19:45.14] ANN GOROWSKI: Before we do move on and talk about-- oh, sorry. Go ahead.

[00:19:48.15] LINDA DUNLAP: That's OK. They solve each other's problem sometimes. That's what's interesting. Someone will say, now this is what's going on in my school. What would you all do and that kind of thing. And I'll have two or three students come back and say, I had that once and this is what I did.

[00:20:01.51] I feel like people who discuss things online sometimes wouldn't be that assertive in the classroom, in a group on an on ground class. So it's kind of anonymous and everybody can just kind of say how they feel. It's a great way to teach.

[00:20:16.01] ANN GOROWSKI: Great. Great. I love it. I know a lot of students want to make sure they do have that engaged and conversation with the other students and with the professor to really have that sense of community. So it's a great to hear that in your experience that's what you've seen with this online program. So that's fantastic.

[00:20:31.66] And before we do move on to the admissions requirements, I do want to ask. Do have any other thoughts or insights that you'd like to share about the program?

[00:20:39.14] LINDA DUNLAP: Let me just say that one of the things I've done since we began this is to have a meet and greet at the Charlotte-- at Queens University campus during one of the semester. This time I chose spring. So I'll bring in anybody who's within driving distance who wants to come. We'll choose an evening and we'll spend a couple of hours or an hour and half, whatever they-- it's kind of a come and go, meet and greet there on the campus of Queens.

[00:21:02.78] And they can kind of see the campus and meet me. And we just sit there and talk about teaching. It's a great experience. And I'll be doing that this spring.

[00:21:08.68] ANN GOROWSKI: Oh, that's fantastic. And if anyone does have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to either myself or one of the other program managers and we can get some more information on that for you. So before we move into the question and answer session, let's briefly go over the application requirements. Along with your completed application form, applicants must provide transcripts from previously attended institutions. We also require two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and your resume.

[00:21:42.90] So now let's get into the question and answers. Some of you have already started typing questions in the question box. Feel free at this time. I'll give everyone a minute or two to go ahead and type in any questions you might have either for myself or Doctor Dunlap. And we'll definitely make sure we can answer as many of the questions as possible.

[00:22:03.17] Any questions we don't get to, just know that a program manager will reach out to you to make sure that they do answer your question. So let's go ahead and just take a minute to type in those questions.

[00:22:31.93] So few great questions have definitely come in. I'm going to go ahead and give you guys about 30 more seconds or so to type them in, so keep them coming.

[00:22:56.12] OK. Let's go ahead and start answering some of these questions. Doctor Dunlap, you did touch on this a bit with yourself. But this really is a great question. How accessible will the professors be for their online students?

[00:23:10.64] LINDA DUNLAP: We are-- let me just say, I'm accused of wearing my iPad around my neck because it makes a little bing when get an email. We are back with students-- I try to get back within an hour of the email. Because they're on this fast track. They don't have time to wait for us to finally get back.

[00:23:32.20] So we get back very quickly. I have two adjuncts who help me. They're both passionate about what they do. And we strive to get back with students very quickly. And I'm certainly always available by phone. I can talk about teaching anytime of the day at home. It doesn't have to be-- I'm more accessible, really, at home. So we really work at that.

[00:23:51.24] Let me also say along that same line-- and somebody may have asked this question. I understand what it is to go to grad school and work and have children. So we try to be flexible as well. Sometimes things happen. Computers crash, power goes out because of a storm. So we try to work with students and be there and say, OK, the assignment was due Monday. I can give you til Tuesday because if you've got a power outage, you can't help that.

[00:24:17.50] So we work with them, Ann, because of that.

[00:24:20.57] ANN GOROWSKI: Mmhmm. And that's great. And you are actually 100% correct. That actually touches on another question that we're being asked as far as just kind of the understanding and what if something should happen. For myself, let me go ahead and touch a little bit more on that, the question as far as if something should happen.

[00:24:38.57] Are the teachers a little bit more understanding if the technology goes down or anything like that? And just if you as a student do have any technological problems, we do have a 24-hour IT support desk also that is there for you day or night. You can get a human on the phone to assist you with any problems you might have.

[00:24:58.73] And if it is something where you are unable to submit your assignment or whatever the case may, that is conveyed to the professor so they do get notification that there was an outage or something down. So thank you for touching on that as well, Doctor Dunlap. OK, here's--

[00:25:14.20] LINDA DUNLAP: [? We understand all those-- ?]

[00:25:14.84] ANN GOROWSKI: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

[00:25:17.32] LINDA DUNLAP: We understand what it is to be a grad student and have a life.

[00:25:22.36] ANN GOROWSKI: Yep, yep. That is very true. And I can definitely say from experience that's a question I often get on the phone is, working full-time, possibly having families, being involved with things after work. So the response from the teachers is, like you said, it's important to get back in a timely manner.

[00:25:41.94] And I can say from the students that I get feedback from, I'd say that's the number one piece of feedback I get. And definitely the first piece of feedback that I get is, I called Doctor Dunlap and expect to hear back you maybe the next day. 20 minutes later, she's called me back.

[00:25:57.36] [LAUGHTER]

[00:25:59.46] LINDA DUNLAP: I do.

[00:26:00.26] ANN GOROWSKI: I love it. Great. Great. I love it.

[00:26:03.30] Oh, here's another really good one for you, Doctor Dunlap. What makes the master's in educational leadership program at Queens really stand out?

[00:26:12.23] LINDA DUNLAP: Well, I think I can answer that very quickly. In fact, I was told by someone at the Department of Public Instruction that my program is unique. And it is unique. We stand out because we believe that while we are all about scholarly work and doing scholarly work, we also know the complex profession and the complexity of the principalship. And as much as we can have them prepared going in-- there's still going to be a lot to learn. We all know that. But we're going to do our best to see that they have the practical training they need to be ready for the principalship.

[00:26:47.69] And I think that's what stands out with us, is our capstone project, our data-driven action plan. Those are the kinds of things that makes us stand out.

[00:26:57.67] ANN GOROWSKI: That's fantastic. And that actually leads into the very next question that was being asked. And that was, though you had touched on the internship earlier in the presentation, could you give a little bit more detail and discuss a little bit further the details of the internship?

[00:27:12.89] LINDA DUNLAP: Well, when we go in for an internship, of course, the important thing for us at the university and in the training and in the program is to be sure that we're meeting the requirements of the Department of Public Instruction because I always say they hold the grade book. They are the people who give us the right to-- give us the right to recommend our people for licensure. I'll get it out in a minute.

[00:27:38.19] So the internship it's-- what we want students to do is to work alongside someone in that. Now they will still have to teach. We understand that. We still have to pay the bills. But we outline some activities. For example, how are we going to meet strategic leadership? Maybe leading a professional learning community. How are we going to meet instructional leadership? Maybe from the teacher working conditions survey, the school improvement plan. We look at all those sorts of things in the internship.

[00:28:08.20] And how we can step into leadership. We encourage them to take every opportunity to work in leadership as they are going through or matriculating through those two courses. Very important.

[00:28:22.10] ANN GOROWSKI: Mmhmm. That's fantastic. And like you said, having that experience and really being able to apply the things that you are learning throughout the program in this internship is a great tool. And you can get a lot out of it as a student being able to really apply those lessons you learned throughout the two years of the program.

[00:28:42.00] LINDA DUNLAP: Right.

[00:28:42.79] ANN GOROWSKI: Well, Doctor Dunlap, that actually wraps up the questions. If anyone else thinks of any other questions, please feel free to reach out to myself or, again, the other program managers and we'll be happy to answer any additional questions that you may come up with after the presentation.

[00:28:59.46] Definitely thank you to everyone for taking the time to join us today and be a part of this. And thank you, Doctor Dunlap. The information on the screen is the contact information for myself and my partner, Patricia Cespedes. She's the other program manager here at Queens with the master's in educational leadership program. Please feel free to give us a call with any questions or to discuss the next steps in our application process. Thank you, everyone, and have a great evening. Thank you, Doctor Dunlap.

[00:29:27.44] LINDA DUNLAP: Thank you. Good evening.

[00:29:29.94] ANN GOROWSKI: Bye bye.