The state of Iowa offers a variety of options for advanced degrees and certifications in Educational Leadership. When I was ready to pursue a certificate to be licensed as a superintendent, and later my doctorate degree, the University of Northern Iowa offered the program that best suited my needs. Most classes were broadcast over the Iowa Communications Network. The ICN allowed me to attend class at a location very close to my home yet participate and study with a cohort of educators from across the state. In addition to making new friends, the cohort system expanded my professional network and introduced me to educators over a wide geographical area who had a diverse understanding of elementary, middle level, and high school education. I rely on my friends from the cohort for advice and guidance yet today.
Our courses were facilitated by a group of teachers who had a variety of experiences in school administration. Course content consisted of a nice balance of theory and practice and since nearly all of the professors are former school administrators, they are expert at helping us synthesize and analyze the academic material and apply it to our own efforts as school leaders. More importantly, though I completed the superintendent’s certification a few years ago, the professors at UNI have remained helpful as mentors and use their own professional network to promote me and help me find the leadership positions I seek.
As the associate principal at Urbandale High School, I count my time in the Educational Leadership program at UNI as the top experience in all of my licensure programs. I regularly call upon the teachers and friends I met to continually improve my own performance as a building administrator and to help me advance as an educational leader.