Anne Saied, a fourth grade teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School in Vienna, has wanted to get an advanced degree since she was in her early twenties. Now 53, shes proud and excited to be working toward her masters in Catholic school administration and supervision at Marymount University.
Saied recently attended an intensive two-week summer session at Marymount as part of a program that provides flexibility for educators with busy schedules. The bulk of the programs 36 credits is completed online over a two-year period.
I like that its set up with both an online and class component, Saied said. The classes are very intense, there is a steep learning curve and great value in the fact that I am able to immediately apply what I am learning to benefit my students and my school.
Its her second summer on campus. During this school year, shell complete her online coursework and prepare for a six-credit project, internship or thesis. Participants work in a cohort, supporting each other and sharing experiences and insights. They connect with colleagues through online chats and collaborate on projects.
The summer sessions set the program apart, according to Josh Saibini, a middle school religion and social studies teacher at Epiphany Catholic School in Culpeper.
Typically online courses, while convenient, tend to be very impersonal because you dont really get to know your fellow classmates, Saibini said. The summer session is an intense two weeks of work, but that intensity forges strong friendships within the cohort and creates a very cooperative atmosphere. Those feelings carry over into the fall and spring semesters.
The program provides the values and perspectives essential to fostering Catholic unity and identity within a school community. It focuses on Church history, teaching and moral perspectives. One component is the history of Catholic education.
Half of the students are already principals or other administrators, said Sister Patricia Helene Earl, IHM, director of Marymounts Catholic School Leadership Program. The other half are teachers identified for leadership positions. Its a wonderful mix.
Once they begin their dialogue they find that the major issues are basically the same: Catholic identity, hiring teachers, financial and safety issues, Earl said. But how that is handled may be very different at a Catholic school in suburban Virginia and one in Nogales, Arizona, that overlooks the Mexican border. They learn there are no black-and-white solutions.
Students stay in touch and support each other after they graduate, Earl said.
The cohort program is organized so that we can still maintain our already full and busy lives while knowing the people in our classes, Saied said. I learn so much from the wonderful professors, and almost as much from the dedicated professionals in my cohort. We share experiences, knowledge and skills with one another. While we are working online, it is similar to being in class together.
The M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision is approved by the Virginia Department of Education for licensure with an endorsement in Administration and Supervision PK-12.
The program began in 2001 and has drawn students from as far away as Hawaii, France and Uganda. This year, its two cohorts have a combined 40 students from 15 states, Honduras and Bermuda. For more information, visit marymount.edu or contact Earl via email.
Anne Saied, a fourth grade teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School in Vienna, helps lead a discussion during the summer session at Marymount University.
Josh Saibini, a middle school religion and social studies teacher at Epiphany Catholic School in Culpeper, listens to the discussion during class.