After a decade of working with students and teachers in the classroom to make a difference, Logan and Cassie Suter wanted to widen their spheres of influence.
The next step would be to expand their qualifications.
With the aid of a Burgum Foundation grant, which aims to create a cohort of teachers in the same district working collaboratively toward advanced degrees, both of the Suters graduated this May with an M.S. in Teaching & Leadership, qualifying them for more administrative education roles, such as principal.
“It would be really important for me just to establish a good culture in the school,” Cassie says.
“Because I think everything kind of trickles down from that. And it trickles down to kids and whether or not they want to be there, feel supported and learn. That would be my ultimate passion.”
It was just really interesting to get to know everybody. Sometimes with online programs, you're not sure if you'll really make those connections. But UND did a good job having us do that.
The Watford City residents and parents of two young children recognized the unique value in developing sought-after skills completely online.
Teachers from North Dakota and Minnesota joined them on the journey. The result was an enhanced educational experience that incorporated community.
“It was just really interesting to get to know everybody. Sometimes with online programs, you're not sure if you'll really make those connections. But UND did a good job having us do that,” Cassie says. And classmates are only one part of the equation. An outstanding education requires outstanding instruction.
Logan credits his UND professors, a number of whom are current superintendents and principals, for giving him an experience that not only prepares him for administration but one that serves him well in the classroom today.
“The classes we've had have just been more down to earth. Understanding what we have to go through as teachers even as it prepared us to be a principal. But also, I use a lot of what we learned in the classroom. It's made me a better teacher.”
Cassie, who serves as a Literary Coach in McKenzie County Public School District, found the leadership aspect of her courses prescient and productive when applied in her current role.
“I really appreciated the wide range of classes that we had to take. It really helped form my instructional leadership, which I think is part of coaching but also a big part of being a principal.”
Both Cassie and Logan say the highlight of their experience was working with Dr. Laura Link. Whether it was maintaining a high standard to ensure a worthwhile return on the time invested or offering flexibility for the inevitable conflicts of two parents pursuing master’s degrees while raising a six and three-year-old, respectively, Dr. Link was available and supportive.
In the end, the Suters see the potential move into administration as a continuation of their service to others. It’s work worth doing.
The rigorous academics, practical instruction and one four-hour, principal-for-a-day simulation (complete with phone calls from actors playing angry parents) has them feeling ready for whatever lies ahead.