“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

EdD student gives love, hope, and leadership to today’s school children

Had teachers, coaches, and mentors not rallied around him, Brian Dinkins might not have graduated from high school on time to play out a football scholarship to Purdue University, where he played four winning seasons, including a trip to the Rose Bowl, with a teammate named Drew Brees.

Despite the bachelor’s degree on his résumé, Brian returned home to where his mother raised him, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods and impoverished school systems in Indianapolis. Lack of a job soon meant lack of a home. That’s when a stint at substitute teaching changed his life forever.

His Opportunity to Make an Impact

“I saw an opportunity to have an impact so I invested in education so I could teach,” says Brian, who also became interested in leadership and pursued a master’s in educational administration.

Over the next several years, he taught special education and filled multiple positions as principal, athletic director, and dean of students.

In 2010, Brian became principal at Imagine Life Sciences East charter school in his old neighborhood.

“I had gone to school with the parents of a lot of the kids in my school,” says Brian. “It was an epiphany for me to realize the families were still in the neighborhood. Somewhere along the path they hadn’t connected to something that would change their experiences—or their children’s experiences.”

Children Can Become Casualties of Society

Brian is adamant about children “acquiring skills to move outside of their circumstances.”

“Otherwise they inherit broken lives as innocent casualties of society,” he says.

“I believe achieving the highest level of education is a testament that we can achieve anything we put our minds and hearts to,” he says. “This is especially important for children raised in poverty like myself to see that you can achieve every goal you set for yourself.”

Completing a doctorate in educational leadership has been Brian’s primary goal. After finishing Ball State’s specialist in education in school superintendency in 2015, he undertook the EdD in educational administration and supervision.

“TC Celebrates Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity”

Dinkins (far right) and Brees (to his right) and Boilermakers surround the 2001 Big Ten trophy.

“The EdD program has enhanced my capacity to lead with an inclusive mindset,” he says. “The Teachers College does a great job of exposing its students to best practices that encourage and celebrate diversity, inclusion, and equity.”

Brian says Ball State faculty and staff have become part of his family. He admits that he decided to quit the EdD more than once, “only to have faculty come and get me.” With his dissertation research underway, he plans to graduate in 2020.

In 2015, Brian, in his own words, “took a leap of faith” and launched an organization he calls National Institute for Child Empowerment (NICE). Through NICE, he pursues his passion for helping parents and students of disenfranchised communities with training, mentoring, and advocacy to increase their access to college, careers, and character development.

NICE Works for Students, Parents, and Teachers

“Education has empowered me to serve some of the most challenging schools in the inner city of Indianapolis and provide love, hope, and quality education to those most in need,” says Brian, whose organization provides leadership coaching, workshops for parenting, and professional development for teachers.

“It takes the commitment and excellence of every teacher, counselor, parent, and administrator to ensure that all students succeed. Education is truly the doorway to providing all students personal and professional empowerment.”

Brian says he lives by the words of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who wrote, “It is easier to build strong children, than it is to repair broken men.”

Purdue defensive end Dinkins rushes Ohio State quarterback.

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.

Kindergarten Teacher Motivated by Passion for School Leadership

Ty Johnson’s desire for leadership opportunities at her elementary school in Michigan City (Ind.) motivated her to pursue an online master’s degree in educational administration and supervision with Ball State University. Throughout her career as an educator, she has been diligent in prioritizing children’s interests, while also being interested in leadership. She wanted an educational experience that would allow her to directly apply the knowledge gained from her program in the workplace.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a degree online?

A: When I discovered that Ball State had an online degree program that combined my two interests, education and leadership, along with the opportunity to pursue my passion for leading a public school organization, it was the motivation needed for me to pursue my degree online.

Q: How do you balance online classes and your personal and professional life?

A: Life balance is no easy task. I have found that setting goals, then working towards those goals consistently and systematically has resulted in my success in those highly demanding, yet important areas of my life such as staying connected to family, performing well at work, and advancing my career through online classes.

Q: How has the program benefited you in your workplace?

A: Studying educational leadership covers a multitude of areas concerning education, leadership, and how schools are run on a daily basis in our current society. It gives you a broader perspective that allows you to truly understand why some of those top-down decisions are made. Gaining this new perspective had an immediate impact on my ability to relate and have a deeper understanding of my administrative team’s duties, responsibilities, and decisions. It also led me to pursue and obtain a leadership role as a BLT (Building Leadership Team) member within my school. I was confident that I could contribute in a meaningful way.
Q: What would you say to other educators considering this program?

A: For educators who are truly serious about gaining the skills they need to assume a school leadership position I highly recommend it!

The curriculum for the educational administration program is rigorous and challenging and has all of the components necessary to help you develop into a strong leader.

Another program benefit is that it serves as a catalyst to connect and build relationships through a huge network of professional educators. So, while you may technically access your classes from the comfort of your home, that in no way negates the value of this program!

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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