Educators thrive in environments that provide autonomy but also support their craft. Teaching is one of the few fields where professionals are evaluated daily, either in person or through data. There is often a constant stream of feedback and suggestions about improving curriculum. The leadership of a PK-12 school has a profound effect on their faculty’s success in the classroom, standardized exams and the turnover rates. Teachers’ loyalty to a campus is directly related to the talent and efficacy of the leadership team.
Providing effective leadership requires specialization and divergent thinking. The University of Southern Maine (USM) Master of Science in Education (MSEd.)in Educational Leadership online program provides the imperative skill set that a future administrator, principal or director needs. The admission requirements show that USM recognizes the benefit of a pedagogical background and prior knowledge. Graduates of this program are ready to take on future school leadership roles and best support their teachers, staff, parents and community.
There are three certification tracks in the USM program:
1. School Principal Track
School climate and culture have evolved to become one of the most accurate measurements of a campus’ success. Administrators must “develop a positive organizational environment for adult and student learning.” With an average principal salary of $107,861 in Maine, according to Salary.com, the responsibilities of a principal are diverse and vital to morale. At the same time, there is an expectation of cooperation between a school principal and the larger district or community that the campus serves. A school principal must be a manager of administration, an inspiration to students, a support for faculty and a guarantor that a campus fulfills a district’s mission.
2. Curriculum Coordinator Track
The working environment of a curriculum coordinator can change throughout the day, and responsibilities are dependent on a school’s grading cycle or administrative changes. Teachers must adjust to the learning levels of their students, which might look five different ways in any classroom. Therefore, it is the curriculum coordinator’s job to make sure teachers have material that has been adjusted for and is responsive to student data.
In USM’s MSEd. in Educational Leadership online program, students will learn to “apply research-based instructional techniques, establish clear learning standards and multiple forms of assessment, and design flexible learning strategies.” Students who earn the Curriculum Coordinator certification can then pursue curriculum director roles upon graduation. Salary.com places the average yearly income for curriculum directors at $78,348.
3. Special Education Director Track
In the state of Maine, a special education director with an advanced education degree can earn an average of $105,284 a year, according to Salary.com. Learning to “supervise and evaluate teacher performance and provide positive mechanisms for the improvement of practice,” is a significant part of a special education director’s role in a PK-12 school. Any administrator in special education must wear two hats: that of the general education teacher and that of the inclusion or SPED teacher. Cooperation between the two is imperative to best support students who require extra support in special education programs. Evaluating both sets of instructors, as well as implementing feedback for their department, calls for professionalism, patience and creativity from special education directors. The USM program can prepare a special education director to do just that.
Earning an advanced degree in educational leadership opens endless possibilities for education professionals. It offers a direct opportunity to use prior knowledge and expertise to improve best practices and help new teachers better their craft. In the state of Maine, the salaries of these leadership roles indicate how important it is for a school district to build a strong institutional base. Teachers stay on campuses with inspiring and empathetic administrations, which translates to student success. Graduates of USM’s MSEd. program can use their formal background and gained skills to be efficient educational leaders with a lucrative income.