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Commencement Countdown | Felicia Graham, Master of Education: Instructional Leadership, JCPS Aspiring Leaders program

Steve Jones

Spalding will celebrate graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during Commencement, June 3-5, 2021. In the leadup, Spalding is featuring graduates from a range of academic programs. Today’s featured graduate is Felicia Graham, who is earning the degree of Master of Education in Instructional Leadership as part of the first cohort of Spalding’s Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program with Jefferson County Public Schools. Graham is a third-grade teacher at JCPS’s Dunn Elementary School. 

How do you feel about your accomplishment of completing your degree and graduating?

There are not enough words to accurately describe how I feel about completing my program and graduating, especially during a pandemic. I feel so much pride and joy in my dedication to finish this commitment. Spalding certainly prepared me for my next step in my career.  I am excited to know what my future holds after completing this milestone!

What was it like to finish your degree during the pandemic? 

It was extremely difficult to balance work, school and other commitments. Truly, I contemplated stopping and pursuing this opportunity at another time. However, I was able to prioritize my responsibilities to make it easier to embrace all of my roles that I maintain on a daily basis. In addition, my cohort members and instructors were a great support system that helped me along my journey. I found out what I was truly made of. I pushed myself to new limits and accomplished my goal of completing my degree and graduating.

SPALDING COLLEGE OF EDUCATION | Overview of all bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral programs
JCPS ASPIRING LEADERS PRINCIPAL PREP | Spring 2020 press release | Fall 2020 update

What is something specifically about your academic program that you liked or that stands out about Spalding’s program/system that may not be the case at another school? 

I liked the hybrid format offered by Spalding because of the flexibility we had in attending both online and in-person classes. I also loved how personable my instructors were. If I needed any assistance, they were readily available at any time. Most importantly, my academic program was an established partnership with the local school system, Jefferson County Public Schools. It was amazing and so powerful to have guest speakers from the district because it made the work that I will be doing very realistic! It was so powerful to hear and learn from local leaders who are experts at their positions for the district I work for. The commitment of Spalding to the community is evident as they are preparing future leaders to lead and improve issues faced in schools. I feel these reasons support why Spalding was the perfect fit for me.

SPALDING COMMENCEMENT | 2021 schedule and information

Describe something you have done or accomplished at Spalding that you are proud of:

Receiving my degree is the best accomplishment that I am most proud of at Spalding. I am a proud alumna and look forward to supporting the school in any way possible in the future. I would like to continue to see Spalding work more with the schools in the community.

What does it mean to you to become a graduate of Spalding University? What do you think you will take with you from your time at Spalding that will serve you well in your career or life?

Being a graduate of Spalding is one accomplishment that I am very proud of! Out of all of my degrees, this one feels different because it was very relatable to the career I am pursuing currently. I grew more as an individual and enjoyed learning so much from people who are acutely aware of what it takes to be an effective administrator. By Spalding incorporating local guest speakers along with readings help make the learning so personable for me. With my degree from Spalding, I know that I will be able to take what I have learned and apply to become a leader of change in Jefferson County Public Schools and also positively affect our communities.

What are some of your favorite aspects and favorite memories bout attending Spalding? 

My favorite memories will be all of my instructors that I had this year:  Dr. Glenn Baete, Mr. Kirk Lattimore, and Dr. Tracy Barber. They were all very passionate about educating aspiring leaders and sharing valuable lessons that they learned from their experiences. They are still active and aware of the needs of the district, and they truly take pride in sharing their knowledge and helping to prepare others to continue the necessary work to create equitable, high-performing schools. In addition, it was an honor to have my principal, Dr. Barber, to encourage and support me throughout my graduate education and also apply my learning experience at our school. She is a great leader who is dedicated to helping others thrive and succeed!

What is something personal about your journey to graduating from Spalding that people may not know but that you’d like to share and that you are proud of? 

In graduating from Spalding, I was able to overcome my negative experiences that I have had relating to racism and equity and actually pursue a career in which I can attempt to change this for others. Students need a school leader who believes in the potential for all students to be successful while doing whatever it takes to provide equitable opportunities to guide and assist them throughout their education. I am so passionate about this work that is needed to make our communities better while creating influential and successful citizens. I am so grateful that Spalding believes and supports making the necessary changes to make the world a better place for all people to be accepted and live in.

Share some information about academic work and capstone project.

My group and I were so honored to present our Capstone project to Dr. Barber and Mr. Lattimore. It was a great culminating activity that encompassed everything we learned. We were able to apply our knowledge while analyzing a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP), which is actually the work of a school leader. It was very relatable and a great experience to actually lead the work as if we were administrators. This opportunity also provided ways for us to prioritize, collaborate, guide and lead others, just as we would have to do if we were a principal. Presenting this project allowed for us to work on our public speaking skills while creating an engaging presentation to accommodate the research we conducted. It was a great and useful learning experience!

What are your next steps with this degree?

My next step is to pursue a job as an assistant principal or seek other leadership opportunities within the district. Eventually, I can see myself attending Spalding to seek a Doctorate of Education in Leadership.