“I have long aspired to have a doctorate and knowing that it was going to be the first doctoral class at Austin Peay was a deciding factor. With it being a college that was created for teachers, it seemed like the perfect university to get an educational leadership degree from. It’s continuing a tradition of excellence, of high standards.”
Major: Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Hometown: Cross Plains, Tennessee
Career: Northwest High School Music Teacher
Michael Johnson, a Northwest High School music teacher, can’t stop thinking about leadership strategies. For the last seven or eight months, he’s fixated on the topic, causing him to scrutinize his conversations with students and colleagues.
“A year ago today, I would never have analyzed it as much as I do now,” Johnson said. “The way I view things now is from the lens of ‘What’s the leadership style? Why is this working or not working?’ I’m not in a leadership role yet in the school system, but my thinking has translated into my classroom and my interactions with other teachers.”
Johnson began developing this new mindset back in August when he became one of Austin Peay State University’s first doctoral students.
He, along with 19 other educators and working professionals, enrolled in the Eriksson College of Education’s new Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree program, with a focus on educational leadership, and he remains committed to one day being called “Dr. Johnson.”
“It’s clear this is not a fly-by-night degree,” he said. “This is very well established, with high expectations, and they’re not going to just hand you a degree. You’re going to have to work for it. That’s exciting. As the first cohort, we get to set the standard for that.”
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Johnson takes classes at night and online, and hopes the degree will help him become an assistant principal within the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.
He says this is the perfect university to earn this degree from, as Austin Peay was founded in 1927 as a normal school for the training of rural educators in Tennessee.
“I have long aspired to have a doctorate and knowing that it was going to be the first doctoral class at Austin Peay was a deciding factor,” he said. “With it being a college that was created for teachers, it seemed like the perfect university to get an educational leadership degree from. It’s continuing a tradition of excellence, of high standards.”