“Wow. Do that again!”
It’s the sort of thing you might hear as an illusionist uses up-close sleight of hand.
It’s also what the coordinator for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Master of Education in Educational Leadership has been hearing from superintendents and administrators. But there’s no illusion. Just real education leaders forged through real-world data, research, and problem-solving.
Using a cohort system in which students start as a group and work together for six straight semesters, UL Lafayette has been bringing its program to various school districts.
Program coordinator Dr. Frank Del Favero says the first cohort was in St. Martin Parish and was quickly followed by others in St. Mary, Vermilion, and Rapides parishes.
Because of the effectiveness of those graduates, there are now second cohorts underway in St. Mary, Vermilion, and Rapides.
“The beauty of this whole thing is we’re getting called back,” says Del Favero.
Sarah Butler is among the second Rapides Parish cohort members; her sister graduated with the first.
“Following her journey and how much she and others grew, that was exactly what I was looking for,” Sarah says.
As she began her 13th year as a teacher, Sarah returned to the classroom as a student, as well. With minimal on-campus requirements, this hybrid Master's of Education program is designed for the working teacher.
The hybrid educational leadership program provides students with 24/7 access to online course content and valuable face-to-face time in their own school districts with faculty and peers.
In becoming a cohort member, Sarah has found not only an enriching course load, but also personalized attention.
“The draw for me is that it’s hands-on, real-world, relevant experience, and the expertise of the professors — they’re top-notch,” she says. “They’re so personal; they meet our individualized needs.”
Students in the Master’s of Education program use data and issues from their own schools to develop action plans for progress.
“We show students how to analyze the data, how to identify trends, strengths and weaknesses then to find research-based solutions to the problems they uncover,” Del Favero says. “Students tell us their principals are excited when they hear they’re in the program because they know they’re going to get some help in addressing whatever issues that school might have.”
That’s been the case for Sarah, who also says she’s able to pursue a graduate degree without feeling like she’s carrying a separate workload.
“I don’t feel like I’m doing extra work; I just feel like I’m doing more directed work toward making our school better,” she says. “My administration is more than happy to give me those opportunities because it’s so beneficial to them.”
Plus, she still has time to focus on her family, which includes an active 5-year-old son.
“I still have time to go to T-ball games; I still have time to go on vacation,” she says.
Sarah graduated from Louisiana Tech in 2004 with her Bachelor’s in secondary education, fulfilling her lifelong dream and calling.
“I loved my teachers. They were my superheroes, and I wanted to be just like them,” she says. “It’s a God calling. A lot of times we are the students’ primary support, and that’s important work.”
As her calling evolves, Sarah hopes completing UL Lafayette’s Master of Educational Leadership program will position her for the next phase in her career.
“I hope to move into administration and work with students from that angle, providing them with a school and environment that best suits their needs and helps them thrive and grow,” she says, adding she hopes to provide similar support to other teachers, giving them, “the school, culture, and environment they need to grow professionally and be the best they can be for their students.”
Sarah says she sees the potential for statewide impact through UL Lafayette’s efforts.
“We will see student achievement increase across the state because of their dedication to build a program outside of Lafayette,” she says, as cohorts learn valuable leadership skills through coursework as well as the traits demonstrated by instructors.
“I just can’t speak enough for the professors in the program at UL; they’re true teachers,” Sarah says. “Teachers go above and beyond for their students and our professors at UL have done no less.”
Want to learn more about how UL Lafayette’s Master of Education in Educational Leadership can help you grow as an educator and improve your school? Explore our degree page for information on admission, courses, and more.