Taught by triads of instructors with diverse backgrounds and experiences, Longwood’s Educational Leadership Endorsement not only prepares students to lead schools in today’s rapidly changing educational landscape, but to do so with integrity. Dr. Lisa Chen, director of the Virtual Academy and Middle School Education in Louisa County Public Schools, has put that mission at the forefront of her work as an adjunct instructor in the Longwood endorsement.
Chen brings more than 25 years of experience as an educator and K-12 administrator to the Educational Leadership Endorsement. Still, she is quick to acknowledge that the challenges schools face today are very different than those of her early years. Continuing education, reflection and adaptation, she says, are essential for anyone in the profession.
Putting her words into action, Chen recently collaborated with two Educational Leadership Endorsement colleagues — Program Director Dr. Sarah Tanner-Anderson and Endorsement Coordinator Dr. Danny Grounard — on an exploratory study that will shape the future of the endorsement.
Their article, currently under review, examines the lived experiences of three women of color, starting with their educational administrator preparation program and continuing through their first administrative roles as assistant principals.
“Our goal in doing this research was to ensure that we provide the best program possible for all students, to learn how best to embed the theme of ethical leadership and social justice work in the program and to learn in depth from these interviews if how we prepared our students in our program assisted them in their work as future administrators,” said Chen.
The reflective study has significant implications for all future students who enroll in the Educational Leadership Endorsement, annually attracting a diverse population of educators looking to become K-12 administrators.
Reflection and innovation is nothing new for Chen, who has asserted herself as a leader in the education field, especially in the shifting educational landscape spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. Parallel to her work in Longwood’s graduate classrooms, she helped design Louisa County’s first-ever virtual school during the coronavirus pandemic, serving 1,600 K-12 students. She has shared her own learnings from that endeavor with her Longwood students, which is a prime example of the endorsement’s aim to prepare future educational leaders to handle the real challenges they will face as administrators.
“Students learn all necessary courses to pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment successfully,” she said. “They develop an ePortfolio along the way, showcasing what they have learned. They practice interview questions. They are involved in case studies and scenarios that apply to what future administrators will face daily.”
Chen recently co-authored a chapter in the 2022 book Cases on Innovative and Successful Uses of Digital Resources for Online Learning with Dr. John Almarode, associate professor in the College of Education at James Madison University. Their excerpt, titled "Leveraging Technologies to Promote Clarity in Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Case Study,” explores best practices for virtual teaching — yet another area the future administrators in her program will need to navigate.
“What makes this program is the applicability of what students learn,” Chen said. “It is excellent stuff for future leaders.”