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Should the school year be extended? How does physical activity affect student learning? Is homework an effective tool to increase student achievement?
These are just some of the topics being explored by candidates in the doctoral program in educational leadership at Manhattanville College. The program, offered through a partnership with the Center for Educational Leadership at Putnam Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Education Services, launched its third year Thursday, with 45 experienced educators participating.
“It is enormously gratifying to think about the cutting edge research that is being generated about educating the PreK 12 student population,” said Shelley Wepner, Dean of the School of Education at Manhattanville. “Our doctoral students are experienced educators who understand deeply what it takes to excel in a field that is constantly under the critical microscope of politicians, legislators and entrepreneurs.”
Monique Kelly, a teacher in the White Plains school district who began the program two years ago with the first cohort or class, is studying how physical activity affects learning.
“The most valuable part of the doctoral program for me has been that it not only allows me to follow my passion, but is helping me to do it in the most professional way. I feel valued and validated and that the research I am doing is important,” said Kelly, who has been teaching for 23 years.
Ellen McDonnell, an assistant principal at Rye City Middle School and High School, said she was attracted to the program because of the way it was structured, with students moving through the program as a cohort or class.
“The cohort model lends itself to creating relationships and sharing research. It is not an isolated semester experience,” said McDonnell, who recommended that her colleague Julia Chung, an assistant principal at the high school, enroll as well.
McDonnell also cited the program’s emphasis on the changing nature of suburban school districts as an attraction.
“For someone working in a small city school district, this program seemed targeted to what I do,“ she said.
Paul Fanuele, executive principal at Arlington High School in Dutchess County, said the doctoral program was “already paying dividends because what we do in class translates to my job and vice a versa.”
The three-to-four-year program includes two years of coursework, with one-third to be completed at PNW BOCES’ Yorktown campus, one-third at Manhattanville and one third online. After completion of coursework, participants must write a five-chapter or three-article dissertation.
To accommodate the busy schedules of working educational leaders, classes are held at BOCES’ Yorktown campus during the fall and spring semesters, while candidates go to Manhattanville during the summer. The class schedule is also arranged around the public school schedule, with classes meeting during after-school hours.
For Letitia Payne, a middle school teacher in Ossining who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Manhattanville College, choosing the doctoral program was a no brainer. “It just made sense to go back to where I knew the people and knew that I will be supported.”
Alex Levine, a teacher in the Hendrick Hudson School District, said he chose the program because he had had a positive experience with another graduate program offered through BOCES’ Center for Educational Leadership.
“I saw that that program worked well and thought this would as well,” Levine said.
“It was very heartwarming today at the first retreat for doctoral candidates to hear how this program has impacted them personally and professionally,” said Renee Gargano, founder of the Center for Educational Leadership. “Several candidates already are engaged in the dissertation process. These are all top professionals who are upwardly mobile. Many already have moved into positions of greater responsibility since beginning the program. We are very proud of all that we have accomplished and our students are certainly the beneficiaries of this effort."
Admission for the fifth cohort of doctoral students has officially begun with an Information session scheduled for Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. at the Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES. Interested candidates may contact Renee Gargano at email@example.com.