Faculty Spotlight

Faculty spotlight: Alan Enomoto is an educator’s educator

October 01, 2015
Dr. Alan Enomoto, associate professor of education

Dr. Alan Enomoto, associate professor of education

Alan Enomoto thought he would teach children forever.

“I loved it. I remember one of the teachers (in the next classroom) saying ‘I’m going to get my master’s in administration. Do you want to do that?’” said Enomoto, now an associate professor of education at Brandman University’s Walnut Creek, California, campus.

Although initially uncertain, he decided he had the time to do it. “I was single and thought, ‘oh sure.’” With some encouragement from the principal of the Clark County, Nevada, school where he was teaching and others in the district, he signed up for the master’s program.

The teacher who first encouraged him eventually dropped out, but Enomoto finished and then headed off to Brigham Young University for their doctoral program.

“It didn’t take long before I became a school principal. And I loved doing that!”

It’s a theme that flows through Enomoto’s career, from the classroom to the principal’s office to districtwide administration.

At Brandman, Enomoto shares his enthusiasm for education with people in every phase of their careers. He started teaching the Introduction to Teaching class 20 years ago as an adjunct and still teaches it. He’s also taught teachers in the master’s program in education and taught and mentored doctorate of education students.

Designing a new master’s degree program

His newest venture is helping develop the instruction for the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration (MA-ELA) degree. Offered for the first time this fall as an online cohort, the program expands into campus cohorts starting in January.

“I’ll be with them all the way through the program,” said Enomoto. (Listen to the podcast at the top of the page to learn more).

“Alan has served as the chair for the Educational Administration Curriculum Team for several years and is always ready to embrace innovations that will make our programs exponentially better,” said Dr. Patriciate White, associate dean of the School of Education. “The development of the new M.A. in Educational Leadership and Administration is no exception.  Alan’s imagination ignited when he and team member, Tami Capellino,  attended the state’s workshops on new state standards, and began to brainstorm what a program would be like that was designed from scratch around these new standards.“

Alan Enomoto (center) talks with students during a recent Ed.D. immersion in Irvine.

Alan Enomoto (center) talks with second-year doctoral students during a recent Ed.D. immersion in Irvine.

Enomoto said it’s important that anyone thinking about moving from teaching to administration do it for what he considers the right reason – a desire to help develop the culture of a school.

“As a classroom teacher you understand what is going on in your classroom and you have influence there. You can have greater influence as the principal,” he said. Sometimes that means changing a negative culture, sometimes it means creating something new, always remembering the importance of including teachers, parents and community members in the process.

“I always tell administrators that the biggest mistake they can make is they’ll walk into a school … and start making changes before they even know what’s going on, before they even know the people,” he said.

“It’s like this iceberg. You’ve got this culture which is the current reality and which is hidden way below the surface. And unless you know what that is and are able to express this, they’re just going to say, ‘Well, I’ll outlast you. I came with the bricks. I’m not going to pay attention.’”

The goal, said Enomoto, is sustainability – creating programs that endure whether the principal stays or goes. And all of those goals, he added, should ultimately benefit the kids.

“Teaching is an act of humility. I tell my students, ‘I need you to do what I love doing.’ If they bring big energy and work smart, those are qualities I can work with. I can help them be successful at this. If you’re really looking to help kids and maybe inspire them to do things that they might not have thought of on their own, there’s no greater reward than that.”

Brandman’s strengths

A willingness to collaborate is also important to Enomoto. He sees it as one of the strengths of Brandman’s efforts to educate teachers and leaders.

“You know in some higher education programs they have what you call silos within their school of education. You don’t have single subject credential people talking to special education. They don’t talk to the admin department or the psychology or counseling departments. At Brandman, we have none of that,” he said. Brandman professors tend to teach in all programs, they get to know each other and they understand what’s going on in each discipline.

Staying involved with all the programs also reminds him of why he finds his work so satisfying.

“Last spring I was chairing a dissertation and the candidate’s whole family was there. His mother and father didn’t speak English. So through the father’s interpreter he was saying, isn’t it gratifying to help people achieve their dreams? And I thought, wow, that really is gratifying to help them achieve something they might not have been able to do on their own. I loved having the opportunity.” 


  • "Alan is a quiet, supportive leader who is ready to do whatever it takes to reach a new goal.  He is generous with his time and talent, someone you can always count on to help wherever he is needed.  He is gracious in acknowledging the work of his team, and seldom takes any of the credit for himself.  He is truly a man whom Brandman can say with pride: “He’s one of ours!” – Dr. Patricia White, associate dean of the School of Education.
  • Enomoto grew up in Southern California and graduated from USC with a degree in English, working first as a songwriter. He earned a teaching credential and master’s in education administration from UNLV and a doctorate in education from BYU. He’s married with a son, 24, and daughter, 14, and lives in Contra Costa County in Northern California.
  • Enomoto stays in touch with the teachers he once led, with friends from his songwriting days and with a group of guys he once worked with at the Pup and Taco. They’ve gone on to careers in musical theater, medicine and law. “All these guys, just out of high school in this minimum wage job and able to move on to all that. It’s great to see them get to do what they love.”

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