Lura Huddleston is an elementary school music and physical education teacher at St. Rose Academy in Birmingham, Alabama. The mother of four is also the school’s athletic directer and – to help achieve her goal of becoming a school administrator – she’s working toward earning her master’s degree in December.
How does she find the time?
She’s part of Marymount’s highly regarded Catholic School Administration and Supervision Program. Designed to fit around educators’ busy schedules, the graduate program features online coursework during the school year and intensive two-week residencies on the Arlington campus during two summers.
“I would recommend this program to anyone who is considering becoming an administrator,” said Huddleston, one of 34 students from 13 states and Bermuda who were on campus July 10-21. “One summer and you’ll know if Catholic school administration is your calling.”
Participants complete courses as a cohort, supporting each other and sharing experiences and insights. Courses are designed to help them grow spirituality and improve their leadership. During the school year, they collaborate on projects and connect with colleagues through online chats.
“I enjoy the personal aspect of a cohort, the summer and online components that allow me to continue teaching, and the incredibly competent and enthusiastic faculty,” Huddleston said.
The third teacher from her school to go through the program, she said discussion boards, videos, and video chat conferences kept the online classes personal and interactive.
“I was also surprised at how close our cohort has become and how we all share the belief of being called to serve children through Catholic education,” she said. “We are not just classmates, we are colleagues and friends. I now have a large family of support throughout the world as I move forward toward my goal of growing as a teacher and being an effective and caring administrator.”
The program provides the values and perspectives essential to fostering Catholic unity and identity within a school community. It focuses on Church history, teaching, and moral perspectives. One component is the history of Catholic education. Another is community building. Students have come from as far away as Hawaii, France and Uganda.
Michael J. Pryor, assistant principal at St. Timothy Catholic School in Chantilly, Virginia, heard good things about the program, including that graduates soon found positions as administrators.
“The best part about the program is being able to learn from the successes and shortcomings that have occurred in the professional pasts of these highly credentialed and competent educators,” he said. “They also challenge our philosophies on Catholic education while providing potential alternative schools of thought.”
He was also impressed with how open to new ideas his professors have been.
“This is an exceptional program that challenges each student to maximize their potential,” he said. “I would recommend it to anyone who is a driven educator searching for leadership opportunities.”
James M. Brandt, principal of St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Healdsburg, California, praised Sister Patricia Earl, I.H.M., director of the program that’s now in its 17th year.
“She has committed her life to the mission of Catholic education, and she imparts this zeal and love to us in the program and even motivates each one of us to give our best to the schools in which we work,” Brandt said.
He said other faculty members in the program are also leaders in their field.
“Each one has enriched our professional and personal lives with their wealth of experience and knowledge,” he said.
The same is true of his classmates.
“The common denominator is that we all are educators, yet the diversity of our backgrounds has provided for an enriching experience beyond the classroom or even the achievement of a M.Ed.,” he said.
In addition to the Catholic School Leadership component, Marymount’s M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision is approved by the Virginia Department of Education for licensure with an endorsement in Administration and Supervision PK-12. For more information on the program, visit www.marymount.edu/CSLP
Marymount University is an independent, coeducational Catholic university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a wide range of disciplines.
Sister Patricia Earl, I.H.M., is the director of Marymount University’s Catholic School Leadership Program, now in its 17th year.