Saturday, July 13, 2024

Dual degrees: Baton Rouge educator to finish second masters from LSUS

by BIZ Magazine

SHREVEPORT – As an elementary teacher for eight years who completed her undergraduate teaching degree in face-to-face classes, Kendle Davis knows the power of communicating in person.

So the Baton Rouge-area resident had legitimate hesitations when considering pursuing a masters degree online at LSU Shreveport.

But come graduation this September, Davis will walk across the stage for the second time after earning her second master’s degree in 30 months from LSUS.

Davis finished her master’s in educational leadership this spring and is on pace to add a master’s in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in special education leadership by the end of July.

“The quality of education I received at LSUS was no different than in a face-to-face setting,” Davis said. “If I had questions about something or needed clarity on a topic, the professors were very good about talking through Zoom or making time outside of normal sessions.

“The expectations are still as high as classes held in a classroom. I was hesitant about going 100 percent online because I like to talk to people, but the professors made it feel like they were right there with you and not hundreds of miles away. They are really personable, and they really care.”

Davis, who worked as an educational compliance coordinator (Section 504 coordinator) for charter schools after leaving the classroom, just started a new job as a Montessori specialist in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

She said LSUS’s program structure in which students aren’t often required to be in front of a computer at a specific time allowed her to work her full-time job and raise her family while pursuing her master’s degrees.

“We would turn in assignments on Thursdays and Sundays, so I’d find time after work hours to dedicate to school,” Davis said. “That flexibility was very beneficial to me.”

Davis also benefitted from LSUS’s online accelerated format, which consists of seven-week terms instead of traditional semesters.

Juggling responsibilities is nothing new for Davis, who pursued an undergraduate degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge after having three children.

“As a young mom who had three children by age 21, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in their classes – I was like a volunteer classroom mom,” recalls Davis, whose children are now 20, 18, and 16. “Seeing how different teachers were making a difference for my kids and others is what led me to the education field.

“I had a really supportive husband, so I didn’t have to work while going to college (for my undergraduate degree). Without his support, none of this would be possible.”

When Davis started her master’s journey in 2022, she began working toward her special education degree before deciding to transition to educational leadership.

“I felt like I could cover more ground and had more opportunities with the educational leadership degree,” Davis said. “But once I finished that, I was close enough to the special education degree that I decided to just finish it.

“I think having both degrees will be essential because to be a good leader, you need to ensure equity and compliance for your special education population and support teachers in that way.”

Special education isn’t confined to certain teachers in certain classrooms – Davis said those principles are being used by every general education teacher as well.

“There are so many kids who are not identified as special education that need to be, but they go under the radar,” Davis said. “They are barely making the grades.

“So many kids need that support and that advocate. I want to support teachers to ensure that all learning styles are being considered, and that we have inclusion everywhere. When you support teachers, you support students.”

Completing the special education leadership master’s degree cemented Davis’s belief in a special education career path.

Ultimately, she wants to be a special education director of a district or a special education consultant who offers professional development.

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