Alisha Cunningham, M.Ed

Patrick Nava, M.Ed.

"This program has allowed me to do and experience things I would never have thought I was capable of before."

Degree Earned:

M.Ed. in Educational Administration online

Graduation Date:

May 2017

Job Title and School District:

World History Team Lead, AP World History Teacher, and Football & Track Coach, Clear Creek ISD

Twitter Handle:@PatrickNava22

How has this degree affected your professional outlook? What about personally?

Working through the program and completing each course has given me vast insight to how the entire school system operates and the principal's role as the leader of the campus. The amount of coordination and collaboration that it takes to make a school successful was truly eye-opening and will help me become a better educational leader.

Personally, this program has made me more patient, considerate, and trusting of others. I have always had the mindset of, "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." However, this would be virtually impossible in the modern school setting. This program has allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and allow others to help me for the overall success of the school and programs within it. Experiencing this growth in my professional and personal life has been transformative. This program has allowed me to do and experience things I would never have thought I was capable of before.

What was your single biggest takeaway from the program?

My biggest takeaway from this program would be on the role of the administrator on a campus. From the outside looking in, especially from a classroom teacher's perspective, the role of the administrator might look quite easy. However, when one looks behind the scenes and actually gets involved in the daily duties of a principal it is actually a different story. Campus administrators are responsible for so much more than what is sometimes perceived of them. The administration team must take on various roles on campus to help not just students, but teachers succeed as well. From master scheduling to budgeting to curriculum to monitoring and everything in between, the campus principal must be well rounded to allow the school to succeed. These were things that I had never considered or knew about administration as a classroom teacher, but do know now.

How much time per week did you spend on your studies?

I spent 15-18 hours per week.

Describe how having an online option made a degree more accessible for you.

In addition to being a team lead and AP world history classroom teacher, I am also a football and track coach. Between preparing lesson plans for multiple preps, preparing game plans for football games, and spending time with family, the hours can sometimes get very thin when trying to focus on other endeavors. Having an online option allowed me to work on my course work when it was most convenient for me. Without this program, it would be very unlikely that I would have enough time to complete my graduate work without putting extreme financial burdens on my family.

What was one of the biggest challenges during the program, and how did you overcome it?

Time was the biggest challenge. Balancing work, family, and school was extremely difficult sometimes. I overcame this by keeping a very meticulous and detailed planner to outline times to do coursework and deadlines that had to be met. This way I only worked on things that needed to be done for that day and when I was finished I took time to do other things like be with my family. Breaking things down into smaller chunks made each course more manageable. I definitely feel being extremely organized helped me get through the program with as little stress as possible.

Why did you choose to earn your advanced degree from Lamar University?

I took the advice of many colleagues who had completed their degrees through Lamar and compared it to what I had heard about other online programs. I decided to go with Lamar for its convenience of being a fully online program as opposed to other programs that were partially online. In addition to the convenience, price was another factor that led to me choosing Lamar. In order to ensure I could still provide for my family and also go back to school was important. Compared to other programs, Lamar offered me the price and convenience I was looking for to make going back to school affordable and simple.

What advice would you give to a prospective student who is considering this program?

Just start. Your life will adjust to your commitments. I had debated back and forth for a few years as to whether or not going back to school would be worth it, or if I even had the time to do it. After seeing a few of my colleagues complete the program, I made the decision to just start. I was extremely worried about the time it would take to complete assignments and also balance work and family, but the professors and IA's made the process as simple as possible. Before I knew it, I was developing a routine to complete my work and also still doing everything else that was required of me at my job. My life truly adjusted to the commitment I had made to complete the program and graduate. I am extremely happy that I decided to just start because now I have opened the door to numerous possibilities for my family's future.

What helped you get through the program the most? What helped you make it to the finish line?

My wife was the most influential person to help me complete this program. She was always telling me that she was proud of me for completing each class and how important this would be for me and my professional goals. She always pushed me to get an A and was extremely proud of my 4.0 GPA. Also, I received a lot of support from my campus mentor. Whenever I had a question, she was extremely helpful in helping me complete certain assignments. Many of the assignments had me researching things I have never dealt with before, and having a good campus mentor helps when trying to complete those types of assignments.

Describe your family's thoughts and feelings about you earning your degree.

They are extremely proud. My children were able to see me complete something that, at times, was very difficult. To be a role model for them and show them the value of education is extremely important.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have started a lot sooner. I shouldn't have doubted myself and known I would have been capable of completing the program when I first had the idea to go back to school.

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