Faculty Spotlight

Brandman's Ed.D. program: Cultural change that nets high results

May 02, 2019 by Brandman University
Nicole Dunne talks about introducing a new software program designed to help community college students find consistent help online. She's the director of Admissions at Monterey Peninsula College.

Dr. Craig Wheaton and Dr. Guadalupe Solis

“We need to have more people concerned about being best for the world versus being best in the world.”

A lofty global wish, perhaps. But for Dr. Craig Wheaton, it’s the reason why he chooses to be associated with Brandman University’s Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership (Ed.D.). He says Brandman students embody that notion.

“To work with people who want to make the world better and schools better – that’s why I’m with [Brandman’s] program,” says the deputy superintendent of the Tulare County Office of Education.

In his role as an Ed.D. cohort mentor, Wheaton has seen the mission of “transformational change” accomplished with every student. He defines it as putting in place a structure, culture and strategies that require a cultural change and have high results.

One outstanding effort Wheaton noted is an Ed.D. student working as a high-level administrator in the Visalia Unified School District who explored the concept of a medical career pathway curriculum for high school students. A group of 30 freshman started with the program in which English, math and social studies teachers planned curriculum geared towards health careers. As these students now prepare to graduate, Wheaton says they’re having far greater success than other students not involved in the career pathway program.

“This early project has really been a model and now [the Ed.D. student is] setting up a county consortium of 11 school districts,” Wheaton says. “That’s a great example of a project that is making a difference.”

Another example is a third-grade teacher whose project studied homework’s effects on student achievement. Her findings led her elementary school to change its policy on homework, and then the district followed suit, changing its homework policy.

“That is transformational change, and she was the change agent for that,” says Dr. Guadalupe Solis, former deputy superintendent of the Tulare County Office of Education who just started his first year as a full-time faculty member in Brandman’s School of Education. Solis also served as an Ed.D. cohort mentor in previous years.

“Giving back to the community is important. We talk about education shaping society. And in any democratic society, education is responsible to grow the next generation of people who want to carry on their work,” Solis says.

Their work gets noticed. Solis recalls in his first year as a mentor, all of his students changed jobs or were promoted while still in the program, including a physical education teacher who became a vice principal and a district coach who became a principal. Wheaton says his students “skyrocketed” from principals in their schools to assistant superintendent roles.

“These are high performing people getting things done. And our world needs a lot of high performing people,” Wheaton says.

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