We had the pleasure of speaking with Rose Kebe, a recent graduate of our online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program.  

Kebe is the assistant principal of John D. Spicer Elementary in Haltom City, Texas, but when we spoke with her, she was teaching 7th-grade math while pursuing her Texas principal certification. She was kind enough to share her experience as an online student at UT Permian Basin, starting with her search for a graduate program and ending with her new outlook on school principalship. 

UT Permian Basin and the Benefits of Online Learning 

Kebe has wanted to pursue a degree and career in educational leadership for some time. “I felt that leadership was a happy medium [where] I can be with the kids but make a bigger impact besides my 84 that I see every year,” she explained. After putting her professional goals on hold to raise her son (“Life happens,” Kebe quipped), she felt it was time to continue her education. 

Kebe only needed a program that could accommodate her schedule, since 12-hour days aren’t unheard of for teachers. One Google search later, she was on UT Permian Basin’s website, assessing our online MA in educational leadership. “The online component was a [huge] thing for me because I spend all hours at work, so when I looked at the cost, the classes, the pace, it really fit my schedule … and then the timeline I wanted to accomplish it in.” 

All core courses in our online program include 10 hours of internship experiences aligned to state and national preparation standards, ensuring students are connected to real-world work. Still, students always receive the support they need, whether learning from educational leaders at their school or in our online classroom.  

Self-Paced Courses 

Online students can structure their days as they see fit, whether they maintain a steady pace or work ahead. Kebe, for example, preferred to get most of her coursework done at the beginning of the week. After experiencing the flexibility of online learning at UT Permian Basin, she wholeheartedly recommends it to working professionals, especially if they’re raising a family. “I think if I would have known about this program when I was raising my son,” reflected Kebe, “I wouldn’t have waited.” 

Support From Expert Faculty 

As a graduate student, Kebe received guidance and support from expert faculty members, each of whom has years of experience in educational leadership, including Program Coordinator Kevin Badgett. “I can’t say enough about him,” said Kebe. As a rule, she explained, educators are expected to respond to communications within 24 hours—not that she ever had to wait that long for a response from Dr. Badgett. “I’m a pretty early person,” she prefaced, “I could e-mail Dr. Badgett at 4:30 in the morning … I’d say 30 minutes after he got there, I had a response.” Responding to messages promptly is one of the many ways our professors support graduate students throughout their academic journey.  

School Law and Thinking as an Educational Leader 

Kebe called our course School Law “phenomenal” and “priceless.” School Law explores the effects of state and federal law on public education, preparing students for administrative roles where they’ll have to take ethical and legal principles into account with every decision. “[Y]ou just have to know the law in order to better serve your school, your students, and taking that class just really opened my eyes … helping me make that transition from thinking as a teacher versus thinking as an educational Leader.”  

School Law helped Kebe consider how issues affect entire schools and communities:  

“Oftentimes, we don’t think about janitors. We don’t think about the cafeteria people. We don’t think about the crossing guards … but School Law helps you understand, you know, if I make this decision, is it going to infringe upon the rights of any of my students or any of my employees?” 

Other required courses include Principalship, School Public Relations, and School Human Resources Management. Practicum I and II offer students the chance to gain real-world experience while working closely with administrators at their school. Together, our online and practicum courses ensure students have the theoretical and practical knowledge expected of school leaders.  

Becoming More Diplomatic and Seeing Things From All Perspectives 

Kebe doesn’t consider herself a diplomatic person. “My face shows everything,” she admits. Our program helped her see that being an educational leader isn’t about “being political,” as she phrased it; it’s about finding a solution when dealing with two conflicting sides. “So, [the program] has polished that diplomatic side … If the rule is this, we don’t break [it], but this has also helped me to be a little bit more diplomatic and seeing various viewpoints, opinions, and relevant information.” 

Looking Back on Her Time at UT Permian Basin 

Kebe, who has a prior master’s degree in instructional technology, explained that some online college programs compensate for a lack of face-to-face meetings with a heavier workload. Kebe assured us that our professors have avoided this pitfall. “I really, really think that they do a great job of making sure that it’s not just a bunch of quantity of work, but quality, so I think you walk away with the same knowledge, the same experiences that you would … face-to-face, but at your leisure.” Our program, according to Kebe, offers everything an on-campus program can and more. 

When asked if an MA in educational leadership from UT Permian gives her a competitive advantage, Kebe assured us it does. “[I’m] able to compete with the next principal, regardless of where they’re coming from, to be able to go into an interview and intelligently answer questions … and not sit there like “What am I supposed to be doing?” said Kebe, noting that our faculty members “have really, really prepared their students for the next level.” Not long after we spoke, Kebe became the assistant principal of John D. Spicer Elementary School.  

One Final Piece of Advice for Aspiring Principals 

What does Kebe have to say to people considering our online MA in educational leadership program? “Give it a try. Take one class. Try it out and go from there. You don’t know [what] you don’t know.”  

UT Permian Basin’s online MA in educational leadership program is designed for educators and administrators who aspire to lead as K-12 principals. Assisted by online learning tools and guided by expert faculty, students learn to take on the responsibilities of a school principal, including how to: 

  • Build educator capacity to better meet students’ needs.  
  • Communicate and collaborate with all stakeholders. 
  • Make decisions while acting with integrity and fairness.  

Aligned with the Texas SBEC Principal as Instructional Leader certification competencies, our program prepares students for the certification exams. (Aspiring principals outside of Texas should confirm with their state agency whether our program meets their state’s eligibility requirements.) 

Rose Kebe’s story shows how many educators can continue their education and advance their careers in educational leadership, if they only have the tools to do so. Apply to our online MA in educational leadership program to realize your potential as a school leader.