Faculty Spotlight: Leadership in Educational Administration: James Tucker

James Tucker, Ed.D. Assistant Professor in the George Washington University’s (GW) Graduate School of Education and Human Development, shares insights from his extensive career experience as a leader in educational administration as well as advice for aspiring educational administrators.

What path did you follow to become an educational administrator?

My path was unconventional. I started out wanting to be an Air Force pilot, but I needed good vision and good math skills, and I was missing both. I got a scholarship to the District of Columbia Teachers College, where I met two very inspirational mentors — a history professor and an educational psychology professor — who inspired me to teach. I earned a master’s degree in history and taught 11 th grade U.S. history for nine years.
Eventually, I started taking classes in guidance and administration and had the opportunity to hold a high school administrator position as assistant principal.
After three years, I became the principal of the inner-city middle school I had attended as a child. I loved my career there because the students’ parents were my former classmates, and I felt very connected to the community and the kids.
I eventually moved on to other positions, such as assistant superintendent and director of administration in various public schools in Virginia. After I retired, I became a visiting assistant professor of educational leadership and administration in the online program at GW.

Describe the ideal student for GW’s online Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration program.

First, the ideal student is a self-starter. In an online program, our faculty are very hands-on and available, but students must be willing to take initiative.
Second, you really have to care about kids. Being an administrator is not about escaping the classroom. It’s not just about what you want to achieve for yourself but what you want to achieve for your students.
Third, the ideal student is also reflective. Our program isn’t just about reading something and repeating it back. Students must be able to reflect and ask themselves, “how does this affect me?” “How can I use this knowledge to help students?”

What are the benefits to students who choose an online graduate program?

The number one benefit is flexibility. But even with that flexibility, students must manage their time wisely to get their work done. I tell students to expect to devote eight to ten hours a week to the program.

What sets GW’s Educational Leadership and Administration online graduate programs apart from others?

In addition to providing a high-quality education, the program allows students to make important connections with peers around the country and around the world. Students learn about what’s going on nationally and globally with education, and they have the opportunity to share ideas about how to face various educational challenges.

Are there opportunities for students to collaborate in the online environment?

Absolutely. Students connect with each other and immediately start to network, swap stories, share experiences, brainstorm strategies and support each other. They collaborate on group projects and form lasting bonds.

What advice do you have for aspiring school administrators?

Get out of the office and spend time in the schools. Be with the kids and be visible — don’t just be an office administrator. I required my staff to spend at least one day per semester in the classroom as substitute teachers. The young folks are your clients, your stakeholders, and you need to spend time with them to understand their needs.

What do students need to know about licensure?

All states have their own specific set of licensure requirements for educators and administrators who work in public elementary and secondary schools. Our program is designed to meet requirements in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, but it’s the student’s job to investigate requirements in their own state. Completion of the MA in Educational Leadership and Administration program can provide you with a degree, but your state provides you with licensure.

What career opportunities are available to graduates of GW’s Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration Program?

Graduates are qualified for a range of educational administration positions in schools, school districts and higher education, such as assistant principal, principal, central office administrator, department chair, program director and dean. Leadership in educational administration positions offer significant earning potential. For example, the median pay for elementary and secondary school education administrators was $92,510 in 2016.

GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development also offers a Post-Master’s Certificate and Education Specialist in Educational Leadership and Administration (EdS) degree program. How do students decide if either of these programs is right for them?

Both programs help students who hold a master’s degree build a broader foundation in educational leadership, administration and management. The Post-Master’s Certificate is an excellent choice for students who want to prepare themselves for positions such as assistant principal or principal, whereas the EdS program prepares students for leadership positions at a district, sub-district or school-wide level.

Expand your opportunities in educational leadership and administration by earning your Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration from the George Washington University. Request more information today or call 844-386-7323.