Educational Leadership

dr. larry kajs
professor, program chair

dr. bettye grigsby
assistant professor
program coordinator

dr. anne coppenhaver
clinical associate professor, director of the center for educational programs

dr. john decman
associate professor

dr. carlos price
clinical assistant professor

dr. felix simieou
assistant professor


Volume 4, Issue 2: Fall 2011

Coming to West Houston, Spring 2012

We’re expanding! UHCL is now offering its Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Leadership in West Houston.

“We received many requests from UHCL graduates living and working on the west side of Houston to offer the doctoral program in their locality,” says Professor Larry Kajs, educational leadership program chairman. “I’m pleased to report the first cohort at the University of Houston System Center at Cinco Ranch is scheduled for January 2012.”


The program provides professional educators and administrators with extensive development in sound research and administrative practices that will allow them to thrive in both today’s and tomorrow’s challenging educational environments. More than 30 members of our doctoral faculty impart a broad scope of practical experience and theoretical knowledge covering subjects ranging from strategic planning, to dispute resolution, to program evaluation.

To learn more visit our website at, or for additional information, contact David Benz, director of student relations, at or 281-283-3600.

Grigsby named Educational Management Lead, Seeks to Establish Weekend Cohort
Bettye Grigsby

Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Bettye Grigsby, recently named Educational Management Program Coordinator, leads the master’s degree and related principal certification programs.

Grigsby says her main focus will be to develop a program featuring a weekend cohort with high quality blended classes, a mix of online and face-to-face sessions.

“The majority of our students are non-traditional − that is they work full-time jobs and have families, and are not full-time students. Moving to this blended approach and offering weekend classes will make the advanced degree they desire more accessible to them.”

In addition to setting up the new weekend cohort for a start date by fall 2012, Grigsby and her team are working to reformat the current course offerings to the blended approach as well.

“We want the classes to be conducive to a broad range of learners.”

For more information about the educational management program visit our Educational Management Program site.

SOE Students Present at the AATC Conference

Pictured ( l to r): Alicia Martin, Suzanne Sanders, Terri Jo Burchfield, Jeanne Nelson, and Tina Floridia. Not pictured: Amanda Davis.

Pictured ( l to r): Alicia Martin, Suzanne Sanders, Terri  Jo Burchfield, Jeanne Nelson, and Tina Floridia. Not pictured: Amanda Davis.

The School of Education was well-represented at the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum Conference in Denver last month. Four doctoral candidates and two master’s students in curriculum and instruction presented papers with topics ranging from approaches in high school mathematics courses, to the challenges of home-bound students, to art in the classroom.

“Through these presentations, our students demonstrate commitment to exemplary teaching practice and research, and position themselves as emerging leaders in the field of education,” says Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Teacher Education Denise McDonald.

Martin Awarded CREATE Grant

Doctoral candidate Alicia Martin

Doctoral candidate Alicia Martin is one of only four students statewide to receive the 2010-2011 Public School Research Scholars Program grants awarded by the Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education.

The $3,000 grant enables doctoral students who are public school teachers to design and complete research related to teacher quality and effectiveness.

“It was phenomenal,” says Martin of her summer experience with CREATE. “They provided us with exceptional researchers to aid in the dissertation process, providing tools, timelines, and constructive feedback as well as the financial resources.”

Martin successfully defended her dissertation titled “Integration, Learner-Centered, and Curriculum-Centered Approaches in a High School Mathematics Course,” and will complete coursework in December 2011. She is an Algebra II teacher and team leader at Robert E. Lee High School in Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District and received a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction specializing in Mathematics from the UHCL in 2007.

A consortium of the University of Houston System, the Texas A&M University System, the Texas State University System and The University of Texas System, CREATE is dedicated to exploring quality and effectiveness issues related to teacher preparation, retention and student achievement.

Professor Enjoys Role With New Doctoral Students

Lillian Benavente-McEnery

Lillian Benavente-McEnery, associate professor of reading and language arts, remembers going through the dissertation process herself. She recalls the common pitfall of “choosing a topic that’s too big, too broad, that can’t be finished in a lifetime.” In part, that’s why she enjoys teaching the Professional Writing and Communications course, one of the first taken by the new doctoral students.

“It’s an energizing and dynamic class because you see real transformation," says McEnery. "It serves an important role because it helps to create a culture and a community where they begin to see themselves as researchers.”

The class is mainly about the dissertation, its parts and how to develop them.

“They are learning the language, the lay of the land, and they’re learning how all of those things map to what their passions are in terms of research.”

On the last day of class, McEnery invites students to think back to the first day.

“They recall how, in their introductory statements, they were so unsure of themselves; how they voiced concern. There was real disequilibrium in the room. By the end, they’re more confident. It’s nice to see that they have internalized more of what it means to go through the process in a very rigorous way.”

Alumna, Doctoral Candidate Named Principal of the Year

Marsha Jones, a 25-year educator, UHCL alumna and current doctoral candidate, was named Pasadena ISD Principal of the Year.

Marsha Jones, a 25-year educator, UHCL alumna and current doctoral candidate, was named Pasadena ISD Principal of the Year. Experienced as both a classroom teacher and a 20-year administrator, Jones is the principal at Rick Schneider Middle School, Pasadena’s first middle school.

“I absolutely still love what I do. Some days are great, and some days are tough and some days are a mixture of both, you just have to keep focused on the goal. You do what you do because you know the good decisions that you make will pay off, if not immediately, in the long run,” says Jones, who has been a principal for 16 years and an administrator for almost 20.

Jones believes that the biggest challenge facing schools today is funding and how to address it at the school level.

“We look at innovative grants focused on our areas of need such as science,” says Jones.

The school successfully received one grant worth nearly $500,000. Other options include the district’s Education Foundation mini grants that teachers can apply for. Beyond funding, her focus is on improving the quality of instruction “on a shoestring” achieved by maximizing all resources to ensure all student needs are met.

Receiving Principal of the Year was an honor and especially while in the midst of her doctoral work.

“I never wanted my staff to say, ‘Oh, she’s busy with that and doesn’t have time for us’,” says Jones. “I don’t think any of my teachers have felt that. Going to school has enriched my learning and supported the things I’m doing here at Schneider. It’s given me new ideas to look at or think about as an administrator.”

Jones received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UHCL in May 1987, and a Master of Science in Educational Administration from UHCL in December 1990. She will complete her Doctor in Education in Educational Leadership in December 2012.

Candidates Attend First AERA Conference

Pictured (clockwise from top, center) are Robert Bayard, Alicia Martin, Constance Harris, Marsha Jones, Stephanie Hatten, LaMyrle Ituah, and Jenifer Kirby Anderson.
Pictured (clockwise from top, center) are Robert Bayard, Alicia Martin, Constance Harris, Marsha Jones, Stephanie Hatten, LaMyrle Ituah, and Jenifer Kirby Anderson.

Seven doctoral candidates were first-time attendees at the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference held in April this year. AERA, a prominent international professional organization, hosted more than 13,000 educational researchers representing diverse disciplines and countries for a week of presentations and roundtable discussions, including 12 of our own School of Education professors. The first-time attendees reported that having the opportunity to meet with top researchers in their areas of interest was both inspiring and motivational.

Doctoral student Constance Russell, a speech-language pathologist in the Katy I.S.D., admits she hadn’t expected to encounter the vast diversity of people, both national and international, who shared the same ideals and the same passion for education. Nor did she realize she would have the opportunity to personally meet with leaders in her field of interest.

“It was surprising to be sitting at a roundtable discussion or at a symposium or paper session with a top researcher that I’ve seen in textbooks and in articles - to get into dialogue with them and share personal experiences.”

National Excellence, Neighborhood Convenience

Surveys have indicated that many school principals in the United States will be eligible for retirement in a few years, leaving the door wide open for graduates of principal preparation programs. If you’ve always aspired to take the next step, but could not work a long commute into your schedule, now is the time to act. Students throughout Houston have the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in educational management with principal certification, along with PDAS certification at any one of five convenient locations. Our Pearland campus is now open, as well as UH-Cinco Ranch, Alief ISD and San Jacinto College North, and, of course, the University of Houston-Clear Lake campus. Not only do these sites offer convenience, but access to UHCL’s entire principal preparation program including faculty excellence, as well as state and national accreditation. To learn more, visit our Educational Management Program site.

University of Houston-Clear Lake’s School of Education Educational Leadership program offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and a Master of Science in Educational Management, as well as Principal and Superintendent Certifications. These programs provide quality leadership preparation for educators.

UHCL’s Alumni Association Wants To Hear From You

UHCL’s Alumni Association wants to hear from you if you’ve switched jobs, gotten married, had a baby, retired or received a special honor or award. Class Notes allows all alumni to stay up to date on the exciting news from their classmates. Visit the UHCL Alumni Association Web site to submit your Class Notes online. Entries in the Class Notes section may appear in the next edition of Egret. <<Top


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