“I wanted to change their life trajectories:” Alumnus Jeremy Coleman

Jeremy Coleman speaking with a student in a busy school hallway

In his first job after college, Jeremy Coleman saw the world from the viewpoint of a correctional officer.

“I met so many talented and hopeful young people that all shared a similar story of abandonment and abuse,” he says. “I wanted to dramatically change the life trajectories of the students most affected by economic inequality, discriminatory housing, and economic policy.”

In a later job, where he mentored students facing challenges in schools throughout Indianapolis, Jeremy discovered what he calls “the magic of the classroom.” Finding that he had a unique connection with students, he pursued his teaching license and, in his first year, landed in a classroom of 38 fourth-graders, where he “loved every minute of it.”

Students Discover Voice, Power

“The students that I mentored discovered their own voice and power and made tremendous progress in schools,” says Jeremy, who today is principal of Brookview Elementary on the east side of Indianapolis.

While teaching in a local charter school, he enrolled in Ball State’s online master of arts (MAE) in educational administration and supervision.

“The beauty of the Ball State program was its emphasis on practice which is what made me choose Ball State’s MAE program over other programs,” he says.

Jeremy says the program was “foundational in my understanding of how to think like an administrator.”

Says MAE Class was Jolt He Needed

He remembers vividly his first class with Dr. Marilynn Quick, associate professor of educational leadership.

“It was challenging, it was rigorous, and it was also exactly the jolt that I needed to see leadership clearly,” he says. “I remember a few things about my first MAE class with Dr. Quick: reading Machiavelli’s The Prince and Six Thinking Hats. Both were wonderfully designed to induce critical thinking and analysis. But the third indelible experience from her class was the self-assessment rubrics.”

Jeremy assumed the role of Brookview principal in 2019. Part of his responsibility is setting the tone and establishing direction for the school.

“But none of that is possible without talented and dedicated staff and great students.  We have both at Brookview,” he says. “I will take some credit for hiring some of our rock star teachers!”

EdD Was Next on His Journey

In 2013, Jeremy enrolled in Ball State’s online doctorate of education (EdD) in educational administration and supervision.

“One of the major determinants for starting the journey was the level of support I would have along the way,” he says. “I heard horror stories of people who were ‘all but dissertation’ with little hope and even less support.”

Jeremy says he knew he had expert guidance for his “dissertation journey” with Dr. Serena Salloum, Ball State associate professor of educational leadership, as his chair.

Dr. Salloum Helped Him Persevere

“They say a leader is someone you would follow to a place that you wouldn’t go by yourself,” he says. “This journey is arduous and would’ve been impossible for me to go it alone. During the challenging stages of writing the dissertation, knowing that Dr. Salloum was in my corner, helped me persevere.”

Jeremy says the EdD was life altering and prepared him to be a better researcher, writer, and, ultimately, a better leader.

EdD was Crowning Achievement

“Commencement was the moment for me,” says Jeremy, who recently received his degree. “I can remember very clearly being at Worthen Arena and enjoying an overwhelming sense of being ‘home.’ It was the crowning professional accomplishment of my career.”

Jeremy has also partnered with The National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemist and Chemical Engineers (NoBCChE), 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, Teach for America, and Keep Indiana Learning, all dedicated to improving the lives of minority students.

DoDEA Educator Earns 4 Graduate Degrees from Halfway Across the World

As an alumna and assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Ball State University, I am confident that I made the right decision in choosing this institution to become a successful educational leader, administrator, and scholar.

I grew up in the Indianapolis area, and after graduating with my bachelor’s degree in education, I came back to the area to begin my teaching career. After a few years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to teach at a United States Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)-Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) middle school on a United States Army Garrison in Seoul, South Korea. With a passion for learning and traveling overseas, I began an enlightening career of teaching military children, serving United States military families, collaborating with educators and school leaders, and expanding my knowledge of Asian cultures.

Reputable and Rigorous Online Graduate Degrees

During the latter part of my first school year in South Korea, I decided to pursue a degree and license to become a school administrator. Searches for reputable and rigorous online graduate education degrees led me to Ball State Online. I was familiar with Ball State’s reputation in Indiana and throughout the country. I was thrilled to be admitted into the Department of Educational Leadership master of arts in education in educational administration and supervision (MAE) and building-level administrator licensure programs.

The opportunity to study online at Ball State University was ideal for my situation. Although I was living on the other side of the world, I taught children with DoDEA standards. My professors at Ball State designed courses to best meet the needs of practitioner-scholars. I could do my job as a teacher each day and complete my Ball State coursework as a student during the evenings and weekends.

The coursework was relevant to my work as a teacher and emerging educational leader in the school, and I found myself wanting to take more courses and pursue more degrees. Following the end of the first year of coursework for the MAE, I began taking courses towards a master of arts in educational psychology and a gifted and talented education add-on license. The coursework was practical and relevant to my school and me. I felt rewarded by learning opportunities that I had due to guidance from professors and expectations within individual courses.

By the end of my third year as a Ball State graduate student, while living and teaching overseas, I also decided to pursue a specialist in education in educational administration and supervision (EdS) with a district-level administrator license as well as a doctor of education (EdD) in educational administration and supervision. Although my being an online doctoral student abroad was new to the Ball State faculty, every professor was extremely helpful and communicative throughout my programs.

During two years of rigorous internships for my building- and district-level administrator licenses, I had helpful and meaningful dialogue, experiences, and opportunities to learn with building- and district-level leaders. The internship projects also challenged me to focus on educational leadership in multiple aspects such as management, vision, and culture with teachers, administrators, students, and school and community stakeholders. These practices prepared me to be a more rounded and confident incoming school leader.

At the beginning of my fifth year in South Korea, I received a promotion as the assistant principal of a DoDEA middle school on a United States Naval Base in Japan. I was ready for this new challenge because of the preparation I received from my Ball State professors, particularly from the guidance of the Department of Educational Leadership faculty.

Faculty and Advisor Support Across Time Zones

While living and working in Japan for two years, I wrote my doctoral dissertation and completed all required coursework online. My dissertation chair and I met via web conference to talk about my writing progress regularly. We became accustomed to meeting late at night or early in the morning due to the time difference between Japan and Indiana.

Additionally, my doctoral advisor was always responsive and helpful when I needed additional support or had questions about my program. When I completed the EdD degree, I had the pleasure and honor of returning to Indiana from Japan to graduate and be hooded as a “Doctor” by two professors who supported me throughout the program. It was such a special day for my family and me. I was humbled to learn that some of the teachers and specialists at my school in Japan watched the commencement ceremony online!

Applying Her EdD to Her Career

After earning the EdD, I worked as the gifted resources specialist at a DoDEA elementary school in Quantico, Virginia. My education and skills acquired as a DoDEA teacher and administrator were extremely useful to me in this position. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with all students as they gained skills to be successful in the 21st century. My fellow educators and I focused on integrative STEM education approaches and College and Career Ready Standards to best prepare students for their futures. This opportunity gave me new insights into the needs of teachers and leaders of 21st century learners.

Towards the end of the school year, I felt ready to teach and guide educators and educational leaders to excellence in education within higher education. After talking with my dissertation chair, I learned that a position opened in the Department of Educational Leadership at Ball State, and I applied for it. The university made an offer, and I accepted an assistant professor position within the department that supported me for so many years.

To become a faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership was an honor. Although I had a unique experience as an online doctoral student abroad, I was welcomed, mentored, and supported by the faculty as I made the transition from working in PK-12 education to higher education.

Achieving New Goals

During the past six years, I have taught courses, supervised principal interns, advised students, implemented program recruitment strategies, designed and led doctoral peer mentoring programs, worked with colleagues and developed an integrative STEM education course and book, received grants, published peer-reviewed articles, presented peer-review papers, and collaborated with colleagues throughout the college and within other institutions. The work that I have completed and continue to do at Ball State inspires me, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have at this institution.

I have focused on international studies, creative thinking, and educational leadership throughout my higher education and work in schools. Before I began working for DoDEA or taking courses through Ball State Online, I set a goal. My goal was to take undergraduate or graduate students overseas to study education systems. I wrote this goal in a notebook and shared the goal with friends and family members. I believed I could achieve this goal if I continued to work hard towards it every day.

In 2018, Ball State provided me the opportunity to achieve this goal by accompanying Ball State student teachers to Ramstein, Germany, during the fall semester of that year. I was the university supervisor while the student teachers complete their student teaching semester at DoDEA schools on the United States Air Force and Army bases in Germany.

Now, I am the Director of International Programs for Teachers College and work with faculty to develop and implement meaningful partnerships worldwide and within DoDEA. The relevant knowledge and practical experiences that I gained as a DoDEA teacher and administrator, Ball State student, and assistant professor have prepared me to be an effective leader and educator in multiple capacities. I look forward to future opportunities.

Dr. Rachel Geesa,
MA ‘12
MAE ‘13
EdS ‘13
EdD ‘14

Online Doctorate Offers Rigor and Flexibility to DoDEA Educator Making 5 International Moves

As a former military spouse, I served the United States Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), Child and Youth Services, and The University of Phoenix (UOP) in Cuba, Korea, Germany, and Italy for over eleven years in a variety of teaching and administrative positions. As an alumnus of Ball State University, it is apparent that I made the right decision in choosing Ball State Online to become a successful teacher leader, administrator, and college professor.

During my fifth year in Korea, I decided to pursue a doctorate in education with an emphasis in special education from Ball State with a friend’s urging. I had researched long hours looking for reputable and rigorous online graduate education programs. I looked into programs in Southern California to include my alma mater; however, I was unable to find a program that mixed high rigor with flexible access to the learning platform. As a current faculty member of UOP, I qualify for a significant discount but was attracted to the quality, depth of program rigor, and faculty involvement found in Ball State’s educational programs that were not available at many programs I researched.

Faculty and Advisor Support

My professors and advisors helped design a program that enabled me to succeed without stepping onto the campus until graduation. I taught for DoDEA during the instructional day and the UOP in the evening while completing my coursework during nights and weekends. I did everything from lectures to testing to defending my dissertation via an online learning format.

Additionally, my doctoral advisor was always responsive and helpful when I needed additional support or had questions about my program. I finished the first half of my doctoral program while living in Korea, including the first half of my internship, and I completed the second half of my program while living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I finished all my research for my dissertation and the second half of my internship in Southern California, where I focused my research on High Achieving Title I Schools in Southern California. As is apparent in the multiple locations where I lived during my education, Ball State Online’s flexibility supported my diverse lifestyle.

I had the pleasure and honor of stepping foot on the historic grounds of Ball State to graduate and be hooded as first an education specialist and a year later as a doctor by Dr. Marilyn Quick (who supported me throughout the program). It was such a special day for my family as I am the first to earn a doctorate.

Setting and Achieving Goals

Before I began working for DoDEA or taking courses from Ball State Online, I set a goal. My goal was to focus my continued education on improving myself as a teacher leader by filling in any “gaps” from my teacher education program. Whenever I interviewed for a new position in education, I shared this goal with my prospective employer. I believed I could achieve this goal if I continued to work hard towards it every day.

Ball State allowed me to fulfill this goal by customizing and tailoring my learning program to become a well-rounded educator. By doing so, I added the knowledge of the superintendent’s position, and special education content mastery that I felt was missing before beginning with Ball State Online. The relevant knowledge and practical experiences that I gained as a DoDEA teacher and administrator, Ball State student, and adjunct professor have prepared me to be an effective leader and educator in multiple capacities. I am grateful for the opportunities that I had at this institution.

Moving into my eighth year of teaching for the UOP, the university phased out professors without master’s degrees. Earning my doctorate and education specialist degree prepared me for the higher rigor expected from the developing university. After earning my EdD, I worked as a gifted resource specialist and English teacher in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada. After that experience, I accepted a gifted position in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and continue to teach for UOP.

Dr. Cameron Gonzales, EdD ‘14

And Now Presenting…A Work, Life, and School Balancing Act

I remember posting online when I finished my master’s degree in 2015 that I was submitting my last assignment EVER! and I would NEVER be in school ever again! Every year when those memories pop up on social media, I can’t help but laugh at Past Casey while looking at the pile of work I have to do.

Since then, I’ve completed a graduate certificate, started another one (which, I ultimately did not finish), and have now started my second semester for my EdD in higher education.

For every program that I worked on after my bachelor’s degree, I also worked full-time in addition to pursuing a degree. During my master’s degree, I worked in a position that required three months of recruitment travel. Which meant I had to be careful to pack all of my textbooks in addition to everything else as I left for Missouri for two weeks at a time.

For the first graduate certificate, I was actually working a full-time job as a Student Success Specialist, a part-time job at a jewelry store, and completing coursework. There were times when I truly questioned my sanity at that point. And, I wasn’t alone in that. My friends and family couldn’t believe that I was able to balance all of that and continue to have some semblance of a social life as well. It certainly wasn’t always easy. But, I’ve always felt that it was worth it.

My master’s degree opened the doors for me to get my current position in advising, which had been a dream of mine since I was an undergraduate student.

The first graduate certificate strengthened my resume enough for me to start teaching. The second graduate certificate helped me to develop some management skills, which have been incredibly helpful after a recent promotion to a supervisory position. I’m not clear yet on which doors the EdD will open, but I love that the possibilities are so vast!

Those possibilities, and the strong desire to someday be Dr. Schultz, are what keep me motivated to continue, even when things feel overwhelming. I’ve had to really work to budget out my time each week to make sure everything is done on time. Wednesday and Thursday evenings are each dedicated to reading for each class. And whenever possible, assignments should be completed one day ahead of the deadline (in case anything were to pop up, I have a grace period).

At the beginning of each semester, I carefully read through my syllabi and highlight due dates, so I have an idea of which weeks will be busier than others for me.

I’ve also learned not to be afraid to reach out to my instructors.

If ever I think that I might be in jeopardy of missing a deadline, I’m sure to reach out to my instructors early to open that line of communication and see what my options are and what assistance they can offer.

When all goes well, and I’ve met or beaten all of my self-imposed deadlines for the week, I can reward myself by watching a couple episodes of my newest obsession: “Alone” on the History Channel—a survival competition show, on which I would last all of one hour on as a competitor. As I watch, I’m realizing just how grateful I am that I’m not alone on my academic journey!

Harris Says Doctorate Prepped Him to be VP of World-Class High School

Jonathan Harris is vice president for academics at Herron High School, a tuition-free, public high school in downtown Indianapolis that provides a classical, liberal arts curriculum. Herron is one of two schools that make up an academic community known as Indianapolis Classical Schools.

Ranked among the top 1 percent of high schools nationwide by Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and TheWashington Post, Herron received an “A” on the Indiana Department of Education accountability report card for 2012-2018, the only Indianapolis high school to earn the designation.

Harris says ‘Classical Schools Are Blueprint’

“Indianapolis Classical Schools is the blueprint for inclusive, quality, high performing, public schooling in the city,” says Harris. In recent years, 100 percent of graduates have been admitted to a four-year college or the military.

Harris recently completed Ball State’s doctor of education (EdD) in educational administration and supervision. “The work that I did on my EdD fully prepared me for this job,” says Harris, whose responsibilities span curriculum and evaluation for both of the Indianapolis Classical Schools. He also manages the heads of each school, six department chairs, head of special education, head of counseling, registrar, and director of student accountability.

EdD Blends Online, Face to Face

The doctoral program is a blended format of mostly online classes except for monthly face-to-face classes that meet Thursday afternoons in Fishers, just north of Indianapolis. Harris gives both online and on site classes an “A” grade.

“The online system was easy to manage and filled with valuable resources,” says Harris. “Class sessions were facilitated by experts. I am persuaded that they are truly the best in the business.”

Program Helped Him Mentor Colleagues

Ball State Online students frequently say they are able to apply course principles in the classroom the next day. Harris says this preparation made him an unofficial adviser to colleagues who were enrolled in other graduate schools.

“There were others who were going through similar leadership programs at the same time that I was,” says Harris. “I literally ended up teaching and mentoring them.”

While doctoral dissertations are pursued independently in most programs, EdD students work one on one with their committee chair and take 10 credits of course work dedicated to the dissertation.

Classes Provided Dissertation Support

“The two that were most beneficial for me was a class in qualitative research design and a class that was solely dedicated to preparing the dissertation proposal,” he says. “The insight and care that was provided by my dissertation chair and committee was second to none.”

Like many EdD grads, Harris also earned his master’s in educational administration and supervision through Ball State Online.

Since arriving at Herron more than a decade ago, Harris has also served as choral music instructor, graduation coach, advanced placement coordinator, assistant head of school, and dean of students.

Online program did not compromise her school day

During her years as an educator, Kelly Andrews has earned four graduate degrees from Ball State. The doctor of education in educational administration and supervision degree, which she pursued online between 2014 and 2015, set her up for a position with one of the top high schools in the country.

Today, she is executive director of Doctors Charter School (DCS), a public school in Miami-Dade County, Florida, providing students with a private school experience. Both Newsweek and US News & World Report have named DCS “one of America’s best high schools.”

“The doctoral process itself is an exercise in perseverance, research, and real world educational opportunity.”

Q: What is your role in your first year as executive director, and what role do you think Ball State played in helping you land this position?

The school’s vision and mission is to develop a college preparatory school as a public choice for parents in Miami Shores. My role this year includes observing all teachers in order to coordinate the evaluation system for all employees, conducting the school-wide accreditation process, and initiating a strategic planning process.

My degrees from Ball State allow for me to serve the school in a central office capacity in areas such as human resources, operations, finance, and public relations. There were almost 80 applicants during the search process and as an out-of-state candidate, these were areas that allowed my background to be considered.

Q. In what specific ways did the online doctorate give you a boost?

The power of the online program is that it met my needs without compromising my school day time with students and teachers. This path also allowed me to grow as a digital leader in the 21st century, something I need to model to students and teachers.

The doctoral process itself is an exercise in perseverance, research, and real world educational opportunity. The faculty and staff at Ball State have been the encouragers and supporters providing students the expectations of rigor and relevance to those who seek this higher level of education.

Q: What problem solving techniques did you gain from the program?

Case studies and the presentation of different scenarios gave me and my classmates insights into situations that we might encounter as superintendents. Working through the decision-making methods and theories allowed us to practice examining a situation from many different perspectives that we might need to understand our constituencies. Since I was working full time while pursuing this degree, I was able to put them into practice right away. It certainly had an avid effect on my position as a principal, which I held during the program.

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