There is no doubt in Barbara Triplett’s mind that she was destined to become an educator. As a child, she conducted classes to an audience of stuffed animals and baby dolls, and as a classroom teacher, she’s devoted herself to the field of education for three decades. Now, she’s the early childhood education specialist for Northside: the fourth largest school district in Texas. Triplett was kind enough to share with us her journey from educator to administrator, including her time in our online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program.

Making the Switch to Administration

Like many teachers-turned-administrators, Triplett felt a need to advocate for her students, or “littles,” especially with regard to how they’re impacted by state and federal initiatives in the area of early childhood education. “I can geek out on the science of the connections, the neural connections that are made in [a child’s] brain,” said Triplett. “[A]nytime and every time you have an opportunity to impact a young learner and help build those connections and develop that brain and build that foundation for future success is just an opportunity to have a real impact.”

For Triplett, early childhood education is a passion, and as focus increased on this area of education, she began to see administration, whether at the campus or district level, as a way to have a voice in her students’ education. Passion alone is, unfortunately, not enough to qualify an educator for administrative roles, so Triplett began searching for a graduate program that would empower her with the credentials needed to make a difference at a crucial time in the lives of developing children.

Inspiring Her Family

As a teacher and single mother of three (two of whom would be starting college), Triplett wasn’t about to be discouraged by the rigors of graduate school and, in fact, embraced the chance to inspire her family. “I just thought ‘What an opportunity for them to see me go through college with them, kind of together,’” she enthused. Her personal and professional responsibilities did, however, make it necessary to find a flexible program that could accommodate her schedule. Fortunately, she stumbled upon The University of Texas Permian Basin’s online educational leadership program.

Pursuing an Online Education

What distinguishes our online educational leadership program is a combination of online and practicum courses, the latter of which are conducted in a school setting. According to Triplett, this hybrid approach offers the best of both worlds.

Within our online program, Triplett found a supportive learning environment that accommodated her schedule and connected her with other aspiring administrators who were “traveling the same journey.” “We became friends and supporters of each other,” she said, “but … I don’t know that I would have gotten that same experience on an exclusive online platform.” Building and maintaining professional relationships is all in a day’s work for an educational leader, and we’re thrilled by how much Triplett’s professional and personal life has grown as a result of her time at UT Permian Basin.

Our esteemed faculty were also there to support Triplett on every step of her journey. “I’ve been on online classes before where you never get to know the professors,” she said, “but these people are real people. You could call them at any time.” Triplett recalled how when she was considering accelerating her course of study, Program Coordinator Kevin Badgett was just a phone call away. “I mean, how often do you know your professors on a personal level like that and feel so comfortable that you could reach out to them in an online platform?” she asked.

Seeing Beyond Her Classroom Walls

Everything in education should happen not by accident but by design, according to Triplett, and she confirmed that it is the same at UT Permian Basin. In her own words, our program was extremely intentional in teaching her and her peers how to see beyond the walls of the “warm and cozy” classroom and navigate the world of leadership. “[The educational] leadership program shows you how to do that,” affirmed Triplett, “to acknowledge the fact that people are different thinkers than you, that there are different ways to approach conflict or problems or the role of policy that … you may not be aware of when you’re sitting in your classroom with your one particular … homogeneous group of children.” Students, teachers, staff, parents, and politicians are all invested in what goes on in the classroom. Through our program, graduate students learn how collaborating with members of their community, even those who are disagreeable, can improve student achievement.  

Catapulting Her Career

2018 was a standout year for Triplett, who was recognized as Elementary Teacher of the Year by the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) and named our program’s Distinguished Graduate. Holding up her ATPE award, a stunning crystal apple, she said, “[U]sually that goes to a third-, fourth-, fifth-grade teacher, and they gave it to me … so it was very empowering that finally, even at the state level, somebody was recognizing the value that an early childhood educator brings to the table.” According to Triplett, it’s a great time for educators to be in a position where they can make a difference, especially as the spotlight brightens on early childhood education. 

As the early childhood education specialist for Northside, Triplett oversees all pre-K and kindergarten programs for the district, which includes 81 schools, 150 pre-K teachers, and 360 kindergarten teachers. Still, she said it’s not unlike her previous role. “[I]t’s just on a much grander scale,” she explained, “so now I get to influence policy and procedures. I get to allocate resources so that teachers have what they need. I get to help direct the curriculum so that it’s guaranteed and viable … We want all kids to have high-quality curriculum instruction, high-quality resources, and in essence, high-quality teachers.” Triplett credits our program with catapulting her career and said she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing today were it not for the education she received at our University. (Although, we have a feeling she’d still be doing everything she can to enrich the lives of young learners.)

Earning an Online Master’s Degree From UT Permian Basin

“[M]y kids are in college now, and—every single one of them—they’re sitting on a university campus also taking online classes,” said Triplett, acknowledging how prevalent online learning has become in recent years. “[I]t now comes down to picking the best high-quality program.” At UT Permian Basin, we encourage prospective students to do their due diligence in finding the program that’s right for them; however, our online MA in educational leadership offers something few other programs can: expert guidance, practical experiences, and flexible online instruction.

Nationally recognized by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC), our program will instill you with the knowledge and skills needed to take on leadership roles in K-12 settings. Online courses give you control over your education, leaving you to decide the time, place, and pace of your education, while Practicum I and II offer the real-world experience you need to transition smoothly into administration and principalship. Once you’ve earned your master’s degree, you’ll be that much closer—or maybe even ready—to apply for principal certification in Texas. “[W]hen I look at what I learned and what I was able to achieve and … I look at my peers and how prepared they were or weren’t,” Triplett reflected, “I feel like I got the better deal by going through UTPB because of that balance and the support that was established for me.” Ask yourself: Why would I join a college program that doesn’t respect my time or input as an educator? Apply to our online MA in educational leadership program If you want your voice to be heard in the field of education, and for that matter, when it comes to your own education.