After years of living in Redlands and driving down Colton Avenue through the University of Redlands main campus, first-grade teacher Sheena Kane ’19 knew where to go when she wanted to build skills to enhance her career.
“I always thought the campus was so beautiful,” she says. “It’s conveniently close to my home and has a smaller student population, which are two things that mattered to me.”
With the encouragement of her principal, Kane enrolled in the U of R School of Education’s M.A. in Educational Administration program, which is geared toward educators who want to pursue careers in K-12 school administration. The two-year program is designed to produce leaders who understand a complex, modern society and the educational impact of intersections among racial and cultural diversity, gender differences, sexual orientation, and other factors.
As an elementary school teacher in the San Bernardino Unified School District, Kane says she considers many of these factors on a daily basis. “I’m largely concerned with the retention of students,” she says. “Now that I'm doing research, I'm finding better ways to support my students, such as setting individual goals, implementing interventions, and monitoring progress in an effort to help students achieve their fullest academic potential."
Throughout the program, Kane has taken courses on school finance, educational politics, law, and leadership. She has also completed hours of fieldwork; thanks to her principal’s ongoing mentorship, Kane was able to see how the school where she works operates from an administrative perspective.
In addition to a well-rounded curriculum, interactions with her professors further enhanced her educational experience. “I didn’t expect to meet so many wonderful faculty members,” Kane says. “I made connections that will last a lifetime, and I know I can return to them for advice or letters of recommendation in the future.”
One of those professors is educational administration program coordinator Ann Blankenship Knox, who teaches courses on leadership, diversity, and finance. Kane says that Blankenship Knox challenged her to step out of her comfort zone and examine the world from different perspectives.
Blankenship Knox, who notes the program curriculum is designed to help students become more reflective educators, says, “The most rewarding aspect of my job is teaching students how to approach problems in new ways—nurturing the skill of pausing to think about predetermined assumptions and beliefs and testing and questioning those ideas.”
Kane says the U of R program has encouraged her to grow as an educator and to thoughtfully examine her role as a teacher and future administrator. Upon entering the program, she wanted to become a principal. While that goal is not out of the picture, Kane is now more focused on supporting and mentoring new teachers through her school district's teacher induction program.
“I grew up in the San Bernardino school district and appreciate any opportunity to be a part of what helped me be successful in my career,” she says. “This program not only prepared me to be a principal but also gave me a lot to offer to new teachers.”
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