Recent UTPB graduate Cameron Sloan has taken his leadership skills abroad. Sloan is head of teaching and learning at a Westview Cambodian International School in Cambodia, and before that, he was teaching in Mozambique. Although unorthodox, his journey into educational leadership began as many others have. “There are some things that as a teacher, you can’t control,” Sloan said. “Moving into leadership, you have a little bit more voice.” Sloan’s drive to be heard is what led him to join our online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership.
Pursuing His Master of Arts Online
When speaking with us, Sloan jokingly referred to himself as a “teaching nomad.” As an undergraduate pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education, he never considered the possibility of teaching abroad—that is, until a spring break trip to Colombia opened his eyes to how far (literally and figuratively) it could take him. He hasn’t looked back since.
His teaching position in Mozambique did, however, make it challenging to find an online program, preferably one without an international surplus charge that could also accommodate time zone differences. (Mozambique is eight hours ahead of Texas.) Flexible and cost-effective, our online MA in educational leadership program seemed like the right fit to Sloan.
Our online program allowed Sloan to engage with course content at his convenience: morning, noon, or night. Despite being a world away, he found that professors were always responsive, particularly Educational Leadership Chair Kevin Badgett. “[Associate Professor] Kevin Badgett was always reachable anytime I was able to get on because, again, the time difference was a pretty big issue at times,” he remarked. Available by phone, email, and video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, our faculty members go above and beyond for domestic and international students alike.
Learning What It Means to Be a Leader
Of course, our MA in educational leadership program’s online format only serves to facilitate its main goal: to prepare students for leadership roles in K-12 settings. “UTPB taught me, through the program, what type of leader I wanted to be,” said Sloan. As a graduate student, he was encouraged to consider the three attributes he valued most in leadership. He chose communication, transparency, and—the attribute he prioritizes most—reflection. “As a teacher, you’re always thinking ‘I could have done that better,’” he said. “I didn’t realize how important it was to go back and look at your work and really kind of evaluate what you’re doing.” According to Sloan, our program helped him realize these core values and share his vision with educators.
Texas principal certification is only available to qualifying in-state educators—not that this stopped Sloan. In a rare turn of events, he moved to Texas to meet the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) principal certification requirements and complete our program’s practicum component, although he could have graduated in Mozambique. Practicum is an opportunity for students to work closely with administrators and gain hands-on experience in principalship and other administrative leadership positions, and Sloan felt that he benefited greatly from this experience, especially when it comes to communicating with teachers. “During the internship,” he explained, “I got to go into some classes. I got to have some conversations that other teachers aren’t privy to.” In his words, our practicum courses taught him to communicate “not so much as a people pleaser” but as someone who could “meet everybody at their level.”
As a recent graduate, Sloan is working to meet Texas certification requirements and has already aced the Principal as Instructional Leader (268) exam. “I think that the program really helped me prepare for that because, during my internship, people were telling me how scary it was. I mean, it was a little bit scary, to be honest,” admitted Sloan, “but I did pretty good and was able to pass the first time.” He also felt well prepared for the Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL), comparing this certification requirement to the online and practicum coursework he completed in our program. “It’s all related, intertwined,” he explained. “I think it really prepares you very well for certification.” Normally, out-of-state candidates are ineligible for certification, but Sloan is well on his way to earning a Texas principal certification, having moved across the world to achieve his goal.
Sharing His Expertise With Other Teachers
After graduating, Sloan accepted an administrative position in Cambodia, where he helps teachers deliver high-quality instruction. His current role is multi-faceted and entails building a curriculum map, helping educators plan lessons, and working with the Model United Nations, which is a major part of the school’s global focus. Crediting his online coursework with preparing him for this position, he said, “I can go back to my assignments saying, ‘Okay, I’ve done this kind of thing before. Let me bring in that knowledge that I have.’” When deciding how best to move the program forward, he is thankful to have his assignments and textbooks to fall back on.
What does Sloan think of our online program now that he’s graduated? He gave it a 10/10 and recommends it to educators interested in leadership roles who may not understand what those roles would entail. “People were saying, ‘Oh, you should be a leader,’” he reflected. “I think it just kind of brought to my attention maybe what other people might have been seeing in me.” With the help of our online program, Sloan learned not only what it means to be an educational leader but also how to make the role his own.
Earn your MA in Educational Leadership From UT Permian Basin
UT Permian Basin’s online MA in educational leadership program is ideal for domestic and international students interested in stepping into administrative and instructional leadership roles where they can have a significant impact on student achievement. All students, regardless of their location, pay the same affordable tuition rate and can engage with course content when and where it’s most convenient. Teachers interested in supervising school programs, policies, and activities will be hard-pressed to find an online program as affordable, convenient, and comprehensive as ours. As Cameron Sloan has demonstrated, there’s no limit to what can be accomplished with an MA in educational leadership. Apply to our online master’s degree program to become an educational leader in your own right.