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Growing Educational Leaders – SNU Graduate Programs in Education

Many can attest to the fact that to pursue education, or to even be an educator yourself is truly a noble cause. Teachers work tirelessly through lesson plans and long hours to help their students learn and grow. Even with their own jam-packed schedules and responsibilities, many teachers want to further their own education. By advancing in their careers and taking on more administrative duties, teachers can increase their potential to reach students in new ways.

Southern Nazarene University offers programs for both teachers looking to advance in their careers as well as those newly called to education.

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership (MAEL)

The Master of Arts in Education Leadership program is crafted for teachers, counselors, and coaches aspiring to become principals or superintendents. The program provides the degree and skillset necessary for career advancement and new teaching opportunities.

Courses include instruction in practical administrative knowledge like School Law and School Finance, as well as several courses on administrative leadership. The program’s benefits go beyond expanded career opportunities– they include exposure to different teaching methods and perspectives.

 Dr. Teresa Wilkerson is the principal at Mustang High School and an alumna of Southern Nazarene’s MAEL program. She knows the nature of managing a classroom, however, in her early days of teaching English at Carl Albert Middle School, she sponsored the student council and coached cheerleading. At home, she was raising two boys. Despite her busy schedule, she wanted to continue her education.

She soon found out that the MAEL program was made for working teachers like her. Her instructors had a clear plan for moving through the program and laid out lesson plans early.

“They set the expectations on the first night of class,” Dr. Wilkerson says. “There were no surprises…You knew from beginning to end what was expected. That’s important for working adult students.”

This course structure allowed her to plan and set aside time to get coursework done. She could focus on the information she needed without complications. As for time management, it helped her to lay things out on a schedule.

“It’s about setting out a plan and getting things done on a timeline,” she says.

Alternative Teacher Certification Program

Johnny Guzman, a student in Southern Nazarene’s Alternative Teacher Certification program, served in the United States Air Force before his career shift. He’s now on track to earn his standard certification to teach high school students.

He currently works as a Spanish Language teacher and as a Spanish and English interpreter. Like many new teachers in Oklahoma, Guzman is working to earn his alternative teaching certification. Alternative or emergency certifications are given to newly hired teachers whose undergraduate backgrounds aren’t in education.

The Alternative Teacher Certification program allows these teachers to earn their standard certification without having to earn an additional bachelor’s degree. Schools often require alternatively and emergency certified teachers to earn their standard certification after being hired. Typically, a year is given to earn this certification. Southern Nazarene’s program is accelerated to be as efficient as possible.

For Guzman, it’s exciting to pursue his professional passion.

“In all the stages of my military service and while I was working in the corporate world, education and training were always a top priority,” Guzman says. “I’ve learned to value training and I wanted to be a part of teaching. I wanted to do something very different.”

The Alternative Teacher Certification program is structured for people like Guzman–hardworking individuals who are ready to give back and teach students.

Teacher instructing Alternative Certification program

Courses Taught by Actual Educators

Both the MAEL and Alternative Teacher Certification programs at Southern Nazarene are taught by experienced instructors. Many work full-time in administrative and educational roles off-campus.

These professors combine academic and real-world experience in the classroom. Dr. Wilkerson found this helpful in her MAEL courses.

“They were practitioners,” Dr. Wilkerson says. “They knew about the school districts and the unpredictably in education…A lot of what we discussed in class were things that they had seen or experienced firsthand.”

This approach provides relevancy and prepares future administrators for the challenges and opportunities they will face. Since many of the programs’ instructors are working educators, they understand the needs of their students. Guzman says this sets them apart.

“My professors are exceptional…They listen, observe, take time to assess, and provide timely feedback,” he says. “They are facilitators who understand student needs and difficulties.”

Guidance Beyond the Classroom

Dr. Wilkerson still feels supported as she progresses in her career. Even though she graduated in 2002, the encouragement never stops coming from her MAEL instructors and community.

“The professors never let you go,” Dr. Wilkerson says. “They check up on you and promote you. They’re always there for you.”

The networking opportunities available through the program allowed her to friend the future principals of many schools across Oklahoma. These connections allow her to work with and support other districts. She has now returned to the MAEL program as an instructor and is ready to guide educators like her.

“I encourage the teachers at my school and the teachers I’ve met to continue their education,” she says. “It gives you a different perspective on public education and allows you to grow.”

Why SNU Is a Great Option for Oklahoma Teachers

Southern Nazarene’s graduate programs provide the relevant knowledge and accreditation needed by teachers in our state. Our graduate courses are shaped to fit the needs of working professionals. With support based on professionalism, community, and faith, SNU is ready to help students succeed.

Request more information about our MAEL and Alternative Certification Programs here or contact the MAEL office.