In continuation of our Immigrant Stories, features highlighting students who identify as immigrants, we spoke with  Mário Gouvêa Ransan. Mário, a candidate in the EdD: Leadership program, holds two degrees from Spalding — an MA in Teaching and an MEd in Instructional Leadership. He was a graduate of the inaugural  JCPS Aspiring Leaders program at Spalding. Mario was born in Brasil and moved to the United States when he was 12.

If you feel comfortable doing so, share a little about your family and your experience of when and why you came to the United States? Were there any challenges you/your family faced?

We came to the United States when I was 12 years old and my sisters and I spoke almost no English. I did not have a good experience while in middle and high school. Unfortunately, the teachers I had did not have the tools or training to help support an ELL student and I graduated High School with a very low GPA. This experience is what inspired me to be a teacher. I strive to make sure that no child has to go through the same experience I went through.

Why did you decide to come to Spalding?

I came to Spalding after speaking with Professor Todd about the alternative certification program. I was convinced of the program due to our shared mission and vision when it comes to education, equity and expectations we should hold for our teachers and students.

EdD: Leadership | Program Overview | College of Education
MA in Teaching | Program Overview
MEd in Instructional Leadership | Program Overview

What has your experience been like as an immigrant student at Spalding, and are you happy/proud to now be a part of the Spalding community?

I’ve felt welcomed at Spalding since day one of class. I have two master’s [degrees] from Spalding and am now working on my doctorate. Every single professor I’ve ever had has been encouraging and has helped me grow as a student and as a leader. I am very proud to be a Spalding student and am very happy with the time I’ve spent here.

Are there ways people could be more supportive of immigrant students?

I think one important thing is just being aware of who the immigrants within your room are and knowing the challenges that exist for those students. Even if the student is coming from an English-speaking country, there are important cultural differences that are crucial in being able to help students find success. Awareness is key. Spalding University as a whole always strives to be inclusive in all things, with a heavy focus on equity, and I appreciate that a lot.

What do you hope to do with your degree from Spalding, and does your immigrant experience influence your goals for your academic career, your professional career or your life?

My immigrant experience is a big driving force behind my goals. I am an educator and am striving to become an administrator within JCPS. My goal as an educator has always been to be the teacher that would have helped me be successful when I was in school. My goal as an administrator is to inspire and teach new teachers to be able to help all kids from all backgrounds and cultures find success. I hope to one day be able to grow this impact even further so that no child has to go through what I went through in school.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) has been awarded a grant from the Wallace Foundation worth up to $8.2 million over five years to help develop and support equity-centered school leaders, the school district announced Wednesday, and Spalding University’s College of Education will be a partner in training those leaders.

JCPS was one of only eight districts nationally awarded funds from the Wallace Foundation’s Equity Centered Pipeline Initiative. The grant will provide professional learning opportunities, mentorship and programming to strengthen the leadership pipeline for school principals with a focus on equity.

“This grant offers us the tremendous opportunity to develop and support principal candidates ‘on the bench’ as well as those new to their positions,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “We know that effective principals have a strong, positive influence on students and schools, impacting student achievement across an entire school. Having a comprehensive, aligned principal pipeline will produce  leaders who can help bring our district’s vision of equity to fruition.”

As it relates to Spalding, the Wallace grant will support the College of Education’s JCPS-focused Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program, which launched in 2020-21 and is now on its second cohort.

JCPS will receive $1.79 million in each of the first two years of the grant. If the grants are successfully renewed in years 3-5, the district would receive a total of $8.2 million.

Funding from the grant will create the Jefferson County Leadership Academy (JCLA), which will offer aspiring administrators workshops and programming to introduce them to the duties and expectations of an assistant principal and principal, along with mentoring and internship opportunities. In addition, JCLA will provide executive coaching sessions for current administrators.

*Overview | BS in Education | MA in Teaching | MEd in Teacher Leadership | MEd in Instructional Leadership | MA in School Counseling | EdD: Leadership | Rank I Certification
*Faculty Bios
* Related | JCPS Aspiring Leaders providing ‘invaluable’ training to future principals

JCPS will partner with Spalding, the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Department of Education to provide certification programs, professional development and mentoring based on equity-centered leadership to new and aspiring principals.

“Spalding University and its College of Education are proud to be partners with JCPS in developing equity-centered leaders in our public schools, and we are grateful for the Wallace Foundation for investing in this meaningful work,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “The grant from the Wallace Foundation will support ongoing work to further embed equity-centered leadership within all aspects of Spalding’s Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program, including its curriculum, assessments and clinical field experiences. This work goes hand in hand with the Spalding mission of compassion and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

In addition, Spalding is continuing work with the JCPS Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Division to refine a leadership equity screener that requires Aspring Leaders candidates to reflect on and demonstrate equity-centered leadership. The Spalding School of Social Work will also be providing cultural humility training for the Aspiring Leaders candidates with an emphasis on restorative practices and leadership, said Dr. Glenn Baete, Director of Advanced Programs in the College of Education.

“Through our collaboration with JCPS to provide the Aspiring Leaders Program to JCPS teacher leaders seeking administrative certification, the College of Education is committed to developing equity-centered learners,” Baete said. “The Wallace Foundation grant will help us deepen and accelerate that work.”

The Wallace Foundation works nationally to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone.

“Spalding University’s College of Education is excited for the opportunity to work in partnership with so many wonderful local, state and national groups to strengthen P-12 school leadership for the ultimate benefit of children in Louisville,” said Dr. Kristen Harris, Chair of the School of Education.

Video from March 2020, announcing Spalding-JCPS Aspiring Leaders program:

As a longtime member of the Board of Trustees and a former board Chair, Paul M. Ratterman has for years been one of the most influential leaders of Spalding University, and the institution has become an important part of his life.

Now, when he advocates for Spalding in the community or when he votes on a board action, he’ll have the additional sense of purpose and pride that comes with being an alumnus of the university.

Ratterman earned the degree of Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership from Spalding’s College of Education and celebrated Thursday, June 3 on the first day of Commencement. Ratterman’s wife, Kim, a Spalding nursing alumna, performed the ceremonial hooding of her husband.

“It’s amazing,” said Paul Ratterman, who joined the Spalding board in 2007 and served as chair from 2014-18. “I never thought I would be a Spalding alum, but here I am. Doing the program changes a lot of how you look at life. It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.”

COMMENCEMENT | Schedule, livestream links and more information
PHOTOS | See hundreds of images and tag yourself and your loved ones in Spalding’s Facebook album

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure and trustees Paul Ratterman and John Malloy at Commencement
Spalding President Tori Murden McClure and trustees Dr. Paul Ratterman, left, and Dr. John P. Malloy at Commencement on June 3, 2021. Ratterman and Malloy both celebrated earning their EdD in Leadership.

Ratterman, who serves as Managing Director of Fixed Income Capital Markets for Stifel Financial, is one of three Spalding trustees who have recently earned their EdD from the College Education, along with Dr. John P. Malloy, who also participated in Thursday’s Commencement as part of the Class of 2020, and Dr. Rick Blackwell (2018).

As a veteran of banking and investment for more than 30 years as well as an instructor of the American Bankers Association’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking and the ABA International School of Banking, Ratterman was already well-equipped with professional and teaching experience before he sought his doctorate.

SPALDING’s DOCTORATE IN LEADERSHIP | EdD overview | Faculty bios | Videos and testimonials

But he was intrigued by the opportunity of the EdD program to build on his MBA and professional experience by conducting in-depth research and taking on the challenge of academic rigor.

Ratterman was part of an eight-person cohort for the 2021 EdD, and he said the small size of the cohort was valuable in offering a supportive network for the students. Making those friendships will be his favorite memory of the EdD process, he said.

“We all became very, very close, and that interaction was really where the learning takes place,” Ratterman said. “The faculty was also awesome and did a great job.”

He said the EdD program’s guest speakers and panel discussions on leadership topics – including those of the Abramson Leadership Exchange, which are moderated by Spalding Executive in Residence and former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson – were an enriching addition to the standard curriculum.

“I’d have to rate the quality (of the program) very highly,” Ratterman said. “The Spalding EdD program gave me the opportunity to go much deeper into a topic than I ever would have been able to. And the diversity of the program, diversity of the class allowed me to see things from many different perspectives that I would not have been able to before.”

The doctorate will help expand his opportunities to teach in higher education, said Ratterman, who plans to contribute to the Spalding EdD in the future and be an active alumnus.

Ratterman’s doctoral capstone project was titled, “An Exploration of Ethics Education in U.S. Graduate Banking Schools.”

He interviewed curriculum directors of banking schools around the country about how they teach ethics to students, and he said those banking schools are now eager to read his research conclusions in order to consider ways potentially to improve their programs. Ratterman hopes to publish his findings in a scholarly journal.

Ratterman said serving on the board and studying at Spalding have been rewarding and meaningful.

“It’s exciting to see the growth of the campus from when I started on the board,” he said.
We were much different back then. We’ve more than doubled the campus. We have exciting initiatives in healthcare and physical therapy. Talking to the outside community about Spalding and what it’s doing and how it’s changing lives and the diversity of the school is really powerful. It’s neat to be a part of that.”

Spalding 2021 EdD Cohort at Commencment
The entire 2021 EdD Cohort after Commencement Thursday, June 3, on the steps of Columbia Gym.


Spalding will celebrate graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during Commencement this week, June 3-5, 2021. In the leadup, Spalding is featuring graduates from a range of academic programs. Today’s featured graduate is Dr. Sara Story, Associate Professor in Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, who has earned the degree of Doctor of Education: Leadership from the College of Education. Dr. Story is now a three-time alumna of Spalding, where she also earned her bachelor’s in health science and master’s in OT. She also has a doctorate in OT. 

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

I remember being in class the weekend the world shut down. With the unknown looming over us, my cohort and I spent our last “normal” weekend pushing through to learn the best methods for setting up our research studies. Little did we know that weekend would be our last in-person event and we would be tasked with additional obstacles as we began our capstones. The unknown of the world and the unknowns of research were stressful. However, my cohort, “The Great 8” (our group nickname) stayed connected and pushed through. In a time where stress and worry could’ve overtaken us, we linked arms (virtually) and continued to hold each other up. We agreed we to cross the finish line together, and that is exactly what we will do on June 3.

MORE | Learn about Spalding’s Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership

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

I’ve been able to make lasting friendships and strong community connections with agencies that I knew nothing about before the EdD program. My new connections to community members, agencies, and even my cohort mates have helped me become a stronger educator and influence the students I’m privileged to teach with amazing ways to help serve and access community resources.

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? 

After accepting my seat in the EdD program, I found out I was expecting my third child. My daughter was born during the launch week of EdD 902. I was proud to have this moment and show my children that no matter your goals in life, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. I was able to virtually participate in class and continued to progress through the curriculum. Regardless of the circumstances, my family was always there to help see me through. I’m proud my children were able to see me accomplish something for myself, even when it required a lot of hard work. It was great for them to see how a family bonds together to help support someone they love. So this degree is for me, but it wouldn’t be possible without my husband, three kids (A,E & I), and my parents.

What are your next steps with this degree – job, pursuit of another degree, etc.?

Celebrate with a trip to a Disney World! My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and my EdD degree completion occurred in the same week. So we are going as one big happy family to Disney.


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.

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. This week’s featured faculty member is Dr. Glenn Baete, Assistant Professor in the College of Education who serves as the Director of Advanced Programs such as the JCPS Aspiring Leaders Principal Certification Program and the Master of School Guidance Counseling program. He teaches in the principal prep and Doctor of Education (EdD): Leadership programs. Dr. Baete recently retired from Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), where he served 27 years as Assistant Superintendent, Principal (Doss High School), Assistant Principal and teacher. He also served a term as Interim Chief Operations Officer. Dr. Baete holds three degrees from the University of Louisville – a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in secondary education and an EdD in educational leadership and organizational development. 

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding? 

Spalding University has a rich tradition in preparing educators and school leaders, and I enjoy furthering the University’s mission in these areas. My role as the Director of Advanced Programs has allowed me to develop partnerships with local school districts to assist with advancing their academic priorities while promoting the University. But most importantly, my first job (ever) was teaching, and I enjoy working with school principal candidates and preparing them for leadership opportunities.

I also serve as a chair or committee member for Spalding EdD students and love helping our students examine research topics that add to the knowledge base and have implications at the local, state and national levels.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research? 

My research background is in school transformation and reform, academic system development, and school and district relationships. I have published research regarding differentiated leadership, standards-based approaches to teaching and grading, and developing district-wide systems to support instructional innovation.  As a practitioner, I assisted with the development of the JCPS Six Essential Systems for a Strong Learning Environment that is currently used across all schools in the JCPS District.

Update | Program providing ‘invaluable’ training to future district principals

News Release | McClure, Pollio announce partnership for JCPS-specific MEd 

Why are the College of Educations programs in which you teach a good option for students to consider? 

The College of Education has outstanding advanced programs for individuals seeking to become school leaders.  Our School Counseling and Principal Preparation programs are taught by individuals with a great deal of experience with school leadership, and our adjunct faculty currently serve in school, district and state leadership positions. Most importantly, all programs in the College of Education combine a strong instructional foundation with relevant and current practical clinical experiences that have been developed alongside leaders in JCPS and other surrounding school districts.

What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging? 

Leaders in all areas, including education, often have to examine and address issues through four distinct lenses (structural, human resource, political and symbolic). Many times, these lenses come in conflict with one another, and leaders have to grapple with how one decision impacts one frame positively while having alternate impacts on others.  We spend a great deal of time examining school-based leadership issues through these frames through case studies, simulations and interviews and understanding the importance of strong leadership to navigate challenging situations.

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OVERVIEW | All Spalding bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs 

What is an interesting thing you have in your office? 

Since I am doing most of my work virtually, my two most interesting items in my office are my two dogs – Chandler Bing (a Cockapoo) and Penny (a Goldendoodle).

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding? 

As part of the Principal Preparation Program’s work with the JCPS Aspiring Leaders cohort, we have placed the district’s Racial Equity pillar “front and center” as we discuss and develop candidate’s skills and dispositions regarding teaching and learning; human resource, community, and organizational development; and reflection regarding issues surrounding race. Our candidates will complete a portfolio of artifacts that align with the tenets of the JCPS Racial Equity Pillar and ensure that will be used to determine their readiness to serve as leaders in our commonwealth’s most diverse school district.

FACULTY FOCUS FRIDAY ARCHIVE | Read all our professor Q&A’s

As the country celebrates the leadership and influence of school principals during National Principals Month in October, graduate students in Spalding University’s new principal preparation partnership program with Jefferson County Public Schools said they are receiving valuable training on how to manage real issues facing principals in Louisville schools.

The inaugural 19-member cohort of Spalding’s JCPS Aspiring Leaders Principal Certification Program recently spread out in the Dunn Elementary School cafeteria for a socially distant, masked-up class titled Leading Teaching and Learning, taught by Dunn Principal Dr. Tracy Barber. Guest speakers explaining JCPS diversity and equity policy Zoomed in on a projector screen as the students – who are all JCPS teachers and employees, themselves – took notes and asked questions.

It was a session that typified the Aspiring Leaders experience – with an actual JCPS principal and actual JCPS administrators and staff leading dialogue and teaching curriculum designed specifically for future JCPS principals.

Aspiring Leaders student Mario Ransan, a social studies teacher at the Phoenix School of Discovery, said he became interested in the Spalding program upon hearing “who you’re learning from and the sheer amount of experience that they have.”

To that point, Ransan said, the very first meeting of one of his classes included an hour-long guest lecture from JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio.

“That was Day 1, and that was huge,” Ransan said. “Every other class has been just like that. We meet everybody that we’ll need to know for the district. Plus other principals and vice principals. It’s just invaluable. This is legit. To be able to sit down with real principals and ask real questions and get real answers has been huge.”

Ransan said he has enjoyed learning from Barber, who routinely shares real issues she’s dealt with and explains how she handled them.

“The reality is that schools must change fundamentally,” said Barber, who earned her Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Leadership from Spalding. “Before we can redesign schools, we must redesign the programs that prepare school leaders. Tapping potential leaders in JCPS with demonstrated knowledge of curriculum and instruction and then planning quality school leadership growth opportunities is what Spalding University has developed in the Aspiring Leaders program.  This diverse group of future school leaders are engaged in the critical work of acquiring skills needed to build higher performing, equitable schools for our community.”

Graduates from the yearlong program will earn the degree of Master of Education in Instructional Leadership: Principal Preparation, and be positioned for a Level I Kentucky Principal Certification and, depending on the individual’s previous education, either a Rank I or Rank II Kentucky Teacher Certification.

The hybrid online/in-person program within Spalding’s College of Education is directed by Assistant Professor Dr. Glenn Baete, a retired JCPS assistant superintendent and former principal at Doss High School.

Ransan, who also earned his master’s in teaching from Spalding, said that Baete has been accessible via texts and calls whenever he’s needed him with questions about assignments. Another Aspiring Leaders student, Torri Martin, who teaches eighth-grade math at the J. Graham Brown School, said Baete is understanding and flexible about the demands the cohort members face as working professionals.

“They have made it very, very easy for a working adult to get a graduate-level degree,” she said.

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OVERVIEW | All Spalding bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs 

Martin said the collaboration between Spalding and JCPS to design a program that is tailored to the needs of the local school system is “very, very special.”

Learning about “the reality of what it’s like day to day in the schools has been invaluable,” Martin said. “Hearing from Dr. Barber about what she would do in certain situations and her vast experience, I couldn’t get that anywhere else.”

The 30-credit hour Aspiring Leaders program is open to JCPS employees with a Kentucky teaching certificate and at least three years of teaching experience and a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a 2.75 GPA.

The Spalding master’s curriculum is unique in that it has been tailored directly for the JCPS system and will be presented through the lens of JCPS’ three institutional pillars – a Backpack of Success Skills, Racial Equity, and Climate and Culture.

Pollio and Spalding President Tori Murden McClure held a news conference in March to announce the Aspiring Leaders program, just before the pandemic.

The first cohort began meeting virtually in July and has held weekly in-person meetings this fall.

For more information, contact Dr. Baete at [email protected].

Watch a video from the March introductory news conference

Jeriah Cook appreciates teachers so much that they’ve inspired her to become one. She’s headed to Spalding University’s College of Education to prepare for a career she thinks can make the world a better place.

The 2020 valedictorian of Cincinnati’s Depaul Cristo Rey High School will enroll at Spalding this fall to begin seeking a Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis on elementary grades.

This week, May 4-9, marks 2020 Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States. It’s a fitting coincidence that it’s also the week that Cook, a future teacher, graduates and wraps up her better-than-perfect high school academic career.  She’s been reflecting on the teachers who have shaped her along the way.

“I just want to make sure I say thank you a lot to my teachers because teachers are some of the most important people,” said Cook, completed high school with a 4.2 GPA when weighted with her honors and advanced courses. “Doctors and people like that are important, and teachers are right up there with them. We can be at school eight hours a day, and sometimes we’re with our teachers as much or more than we are with our own families. They become part of our family, and they guide us to be the people we grow to be.”

LEARN MORE | Spalding’s College of Education programs

Cook said she is particularly thankful for a group of teachers at her high school whom she has known since elementary school.

“They were always just so supportive,” she said  “It’s almost like we are their kids. They’ll point you in the direction that is best for you in your life and put you on the right path. They push us to go the extra mile to secure our own future and do what we need to do to make sure we’re happy and successful.”

Due to COVID-19, Cook’s high school commencement ceremony has been postponed until July. That also means her valedictorian speech is postponed, but she’ll use the extra time to prepare her remarks.

“I want to talk about how my family, my friends, God and my spirituality have helped me,” she said. “And my teachers, and my school.”

A couple weeks ago, Cook and her mother were summoned to join a private video call with the top administrators at DePaul Cristo Rey.

“I didn’t know what they were calling about; I thought I was in trouble,” Cook said with a laugh.

The principals then told her she’d been named valedictorian.

“I was screaming, and my mom was screaming,” Cook said. “I didn’t know what to say. It was like a dream. My mom was so happy and started crying. It made me happy because she was happy. I always worked hard in school for my family because I like to see the smiles on their faces.”

This week is also the week of Mother’s Day, and Cook’s mom has been another important teacher in her life. Her mother teaches fourth, fifth and sixth grade in an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Throughout her life, Jeriah Cook has accompanied her mom to school and sometimes visited her in the classroom. Seeing her mom work one-on-one with students gave Jeriah a first-hand perspective on the hard work and dedication of teachers.

“Teachers really don’t get the credit they’re due,” Cook said. “They shape the future because people always say kids are the future. … They help kids develop their morals and their values. You learn things in the classroom, in the lunchroom, on the playground. Teachers are there to stop bullying or to teach kids to be quiet when someone is speaking. Sometimes they are little things, but they are things that stick with you.”

Spalding will be the place where Cook will learn to teach.

She became interested in Spalding when her school took a tour of Louisville colleges last fall. She was most intrigued by Spalding’s block scheduling. Whereas most colleges operate on semester-long terms with students taking 4-5 classes once, Spalding students take only 1-2 classes at a time during six six-week sessions, with a week off after each session.

“I was like, ‘That is really cool. They actually give you the time you need to do the work,'” Cook said.

Cook said she believes Spalding is a good option for students from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky – only about two hours away from Louisville.

“When I go there,” she said, “I can have space for myself, but I can still come home.”


The Spalding University College of Education and Jefferson County Public Schools have announced a partnership on a new graduate academic program at Spalding that is designed specifically to prepare JCPS employees to become principals, helping bolster the principal pipeline in the school district.

The yearlong Aspiring Leaders Principal Certification Program will launch this summer with its first cohort of JCPS employees pursuing Spalding’s Master of Education in Instructional Leadership: Principal Preparation.

The 30-credit-hour program is unique in that master’s curriculum has been tailored directly for the JCPS system and will be presented through the lens of JCPS’ three institutional pillars – a Backpack of Success Skills, Racial Equity, and Climate and Culture. Current and former JCPS principals and administrators will serve as Spalding’s instructors in the program. The partnership was formally approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education.

“We are building a pipeline for the next generation of school leaders,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “We appreciate Spalding partnering with us to develop a degree program aimed at giving teachers the unique, practical knowledge and skills they need to become a top-flight principal at a JCPS school.”

APPLY NOW | Link for JCPS employees to submit Aspiring Leaders application information

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OVERVIEW | All Spalding bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs 


The Aspiring Leaders program is open to JCPS employees with a Kentucky Teacher Certificate, at least three years of teaching experience and a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a 2.75 grade-point average. In addition to earning the master’s of education, completion of the program will lead to a Level I Kentucky Principal Certification and, depending on the individual’s previous education, either a Rank I or Rank II Kentucky Teacher Certification.

The Spalding program will be offered to JCPS employees at a tuition rate of $395 per credit hour, substantially lower than most other academic programs at the university. Spalding will work with JCPS on reviewing the applicant pool to select a cohort of the most promising aspiring principals.

The cohort model is designed to promote a learning environment in which diverse colleagues inspire and support each other while developing lasting professional relationships.

“As an urban education institution, Spalding is strongly committed to supporting Louisville’s diverse public school system,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “Through the Aspiring Leaders program, we are taking the next step in our support of JCPS by aligning our principal-preparation courses to be in lockstep with the values of the school district. We understand the unique strengths and unique challenges of Jefferson County schools, and we want to work with the district in ensuring that every school has a high-quality leader.”

Spalding Assistant Professor Dr. Glenn Baete, who retired last year as a JCPS assistant superintendent after previously serving as principal of Doss High School, will serve as program director for Aspiring Leaders.

Other instructors in the program include Dunn Elementary School Principal Dr. Tracy Barber and retired JCPS Assistant Superintendent Kirk Lattimore, who was a longtime principal at Crosby Middle School and recently served as acting principal at Manual High School. Many other JCPS leaders will come to Spalding to construct course experiences and give guest lectures on topics such as human resources, budgeting and curriculum instruction.

“You have individuals (teaching in the program) who have very strong backgrounds in a large, urban school district,” Baete said. “They are uniquely qualified from their personal experience to help these aspiring leaders develop the skills and understanding they need to succeed in JCPS schools. We will ensure that the classroom activities, the clinical experiences really align to the three pillars of JCPS. You’ll be experiencing JCPS first-hand in this program, and you’re going to see the people in Jefferson County who on a day-to-day basis help principals do their work.”

The Aspiring Leaders program consists of face-to-face, online and hybrid classes. (SEE A DETAILED PROGRAM CALENDAR HERE.) After meeting four times in July, students will attend one Wednesday evening class per week from August to April, one or two Saturday sessions per month from November to April, and four other weekday sessions during the 2020-21 academic year. (JCPS will provide substitute teachers to cover participants on the latter four days.)

Applications are being accepted through March 27 through the JCPS employee online hub or through this Spalding University/JCPS Aspiring Leaders Application. An informational session will take place 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12 in the Stewart Auditorium of JCPS’ Van Hoose Education Center.  For more information, contact Dr. Baete at [email protected] .

College of Education Chair Dr. Chris Walsh said the Aspiring Leaders program is an example of Spalding answering a call from the state’s Education Professional Standards Board that requires colleges of education to partner more closely with their local school districts “to create programs and experiences that meet the needs of the times.”

“Our Aspiring Leaders’ partnership with JCPS is more than a graduate program for school leaders; it’s a rich opportunity for growth and personal transformation,” Spalding Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson said. “I’m thrilled that Spalding will be at the heart of these leaders’ intellectual and professional development in this exciting new master’s degree program.”

Spalding University held its annual Commencement ceremony on Saturday at Canaan Christian Church, conferring bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to 614 students. Spalding also extended its tradition of conferring honorary degrees to members of the public who have made contributions to the greater good as well as awards to outstanding alumni, faculty and undergraduate students.

This year, the Spalding Board of Trustees presented three honorary doctorates – to business and community leader Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman (Honorary Doctor of Laws), to Humana co-founder David Jones Sr. (Honorary Doctor of Public Service) and to Sister of Charity Federation NGO representative to the United Nations Sister Teresa Kotturan, SCN (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters).

Spalding presented the Caritas Medal – its highest honor for alumna of the year – to nursing leader Shirley Powers, who earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Spalding in 1972.

Dr. Pattie Dillon, Associate Professor of history and the Chair of the School of Liberal Studies, was named the Outstanding Faculty Award winner for 2019.

Spalding bestowed the honor of Faculty Emeritus/Emerita on three long-serving faculty members who are retiring with at least 25 years of service each at the university – School of Business Assistant Professor of Management David Hudson, School of Nursing Professor and Graduate Program Director Dr. Pamela King and School of Natural Science Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Marlene Will.

The two undergraduate student award winners were Teresa San Ngyuen, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, who received the Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award; and Kelsey Hamilton, Bachelor of Science in Education (Secondary and Middle Grades), who received the Meagher Senior Award.

Here’s a closer look at the honorary degree recipients and award winners from 2019, and congratulations to them all:

Honorary Doctor of Laws – Junior Bridgeman
He’s the owner and chief executive officer of Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co., LLC, which owns and operates a Coca-Cola production and manufacturing facility in Lenexa, Kansas, and 17 Coca-Cola distribution facilities sprinkled across the American heartland.

Prior to the 2017 acquisition of the Heartland bottling operations, Bridgeman was the owner and chief executive officer of various companies operating over 450 restaurants in 20 states, including 263 Wendy’s restaurants and 123 Chili’s restaurants, and his companies received several prestigious awards within the industry.

Bridgeman attended the University of Louisville, where he graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. He was a three-year letter-winner and starter on the U of L basketball team, receiving All-American honors as a senior. He played professionally from 1975 to ’86 as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Bridgeman serves or has served on multiple governing boards, including for Meijer Inc., Churchill Downs, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the James Graham Brown Foundation, Simmons College, the West End School and U of L, where he was board chair.

Bridgeman’s personal honors include membership in the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and being named a recipient of the Volunteers of America Tribute Award for Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky; the John Thompson Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award; and the Coach John Wooden Key to Life Award.

Honorary Doctorate of Public Service – David A. Jones Sr.
He co-founded Humana Inc. in 1961 and served as chief executive officer for 37 years and board chair for 44 years prior to retiring in 2005. He served as founding board chairman of Hospira until his retirement in 2007. He is a retired director of Abbott Laboratories and several other companies.

Jones was a member of The Business Roundtable and co-founder and past chair of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a group of about 50 CEOs of the nation’s largest health care organizations.

Jones, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and his wife, Betty, have five children and 11 grandchildren.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville in 1954, where he won the outstanding senior award.  He also became a Certified Public Accountant that year. After three years of Navy service he entered Yale University, earning a law degree in 1960, while also serving on the economics faculty from 1958 to 1960. He received the Yale Law School Medal in 1990 and the Yale Medal in 1992.

In 2003, he received Romania’s highest civilian award, the Order of Merit, for his role from 1990-2006 in rebuilding that nation’s devastated health care system.

He also holds honorary doctorates from the Chicago Medical School, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Louisville, Middlebury College, Transylvania University and Ovidius University, Constanta, Romania.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters – Teresa Kotturan, SCN
In her role as the NGO representative at the UN for the Sisters of Charity Federation, Kotturan’s primary objective is to bring the concerns of the 2,700 members of the federation and all those with whom and to whom they minister in 26 countries to the global stage of the UN. She is committed to raising awareness through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people live in peace and prosperity.

Kotturan has been a Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 49 years and previously served as Vice President of the SCN. She has also served as the Provincial Superior of the India Province for eight years.

Kotturan works to ensure that the voices of women religious and those they serve are heard. She strives to raise awareness for pressing global concerns such as poverty eradication, lack of access to education, human trafficking, human rights, global citizenship, migration and inter-religious dialogue, social development, financing for development, climate change and environmental sustainability.

Caritas Medalist (Alumna of the Year) – Shirley Burns Powers
The 1972 graduate of Spalding with a bachelor of science degree in nursing contributed to the advancement of health care and the profession of nursing in Louisville. She served  as the Chief Information Officer for Norton Hospital and implemented the first clinical information system in the state. She advanced to become Administrator for Norton Hospital and Senior Executive Officer for Norton Healthcare.

Upon retirement, Shirley started Powers Consulting Inc. and worked as Coordinator of the Greater Louisville Workforce Consortium for the Kentucky Hospital Association and Jefferson County Public Schools to implement the health care magnets in three high schools. She has served as a consultant to the Humana Foundation on a tour to Romania to assist in the writing of a health care plan for that country and to Spalding University on matters of nursing and finance. Burns has served on the boards of many organizations, including ones focused on health care, nursing and helping children. Among the myriad awards and honors she’s received, Burns was a recipient in 1996 of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Spalding for Leadership in Nursing. Now she is receiving the university’s highest honor for any alum.

Outstanding Faculty Award – Pattie Dillon
With courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, gender history, and U.S. history since 1945, she has been praised for creating curriculum that is both rigorous and relevant to current events, and she is well-known around campus as being a very engaging teacher.

Dillon has undertaken scholarship work with the National Council for History Education, the Lilly Conference on College Teaching, and the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Dillon serves as Faculty Senate President and the Board of Trustees’ Faculty Representative. She is also the faculty mentor for the mission societies and has served on several search committees. Off campus, she serves as President of the Kentucky Association of Teachers of History; as school board member for St. James Catholic School; as a member of the Dialogue on Diversity Conference Committee; and as Lead History Scholar for the Rivers Institute at Hanover College and the NEH Picturing America Grant’s Picturing America’s Changing Landscapes Workshop.

Designation as Professor Emeritus – David Hudson
He has taught of range of management courses in the School of Business while also possessing knowledge and experience in human resources, sales, marketing and public relations. He has been a faculty athletic representative for the Golden Eagles’ athletic program, and he is a 20-year U.S. Army veteran

Designation as Professor Emerita – Pam King
She has trained scores of nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care leaders as the director of the graduate nursing program. Outside of Spading, she has volunteered at the Family Community Clinic, which provides medical care to individuals and families who lack health insurance, and she’s used her position there as a platform to provide service learning opportunities for Spalding students.

Designation as Professor Emerita – Marlene Will
Dr. Will has spent most of her adult life associated with Spalding. She earned a bachelor’s degree in math and a master of arts in teaching at Spalding, then spent more than four decades as a professor at the university, where she also earned her doctorate in education. In teaching a variety of math courses – from college alegbra to statistics, as well as mathematics for teachers – Dr. Will played a part in the college journey of countless students from all manner of majors and degree programs.

Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award – Teresa San Nguyen
Annually, this award recipient embodies the spiritual values of faith, hope and charity, which emulate Spalding’s founder, Mother Catherine Spalding. On campus, Nguyen has been a work-study in the library and a psychology tutor. Off campus, she has been heavily involved with the Vietnamese Eucharist Movement, leading youth groups there, and she volunteers at Centerstone in the crisis management center.

Mother Rose Meagher Senior Award – Kelsey Hamilton
This award goes annually to a person who has performed well academically and has a proven record as a mature leader and member of the campus community. Hamilton has been praised by faculty for her academic excellence, work ethic, maturity, judgment, helpfulness and creativity. As a work-study in the College of Education and as a student teacher at the Brown School, she has been praised for her initiative to complete tasks, her professionalism and her knowledge of mathematics content. She has also been a successful member of the Spalding track and field team and active member of the Kentucky Education Association Student Program. Hamilton collected more than 500 children’s books for the Rutherford Elementary Reads program.