Northern Michigan University alumna Jessica Betz took advantage of a collaborative program that allows students a seamless pathway from NMU's education specialist (EdS) degree to Central Michigan University's doctor of education (EdD). She recently became the first individual to complete the latter, as she successfully defended her dissertation titled “A Phenomenological Study of Remote, Rural Teacher Induction.”
“The purpose of my study was to figure out what was going on in remote rural schools as far as onboarding for teachers goes,” said Betz, who is principal at Father Marquette Catholic Academy in Marquette. “Are new teachers receiving a proper program to help them become acclimated with their teaching job in a remote rural school? Are they being assisted with things like learning how to become acclimated in a cultured community of a remote rural area?
“I taught in a number of remote rural schools and I noticed that, while I had great leadership, there was a lack of support for me. There really was no process to help me be successful in my job. I think what I have found is that it was my own resilience in being a Yooper girl that allowed me to be successful in those positions, but what helps other people become successful in those positions? Due to the fact that we have a high teacher shortage and because there is a high turnover rate in those schools, we need to help teachers be more successful.”
Betz presented in front of CMU education professor Matthew Johnson and dissertation chair Barbara Klocko, along with NMU education professor Bethney Bergh, who participated remotely.
“Several years ago, our faculty led the design of a Memorandum of Understanding with Central Michigan University that would see 27 of 30 EdS credits transfer to the CMU EdD,” said Joe Lubig, NMU associate dean. “To date, we are in our sixth cohort of the EdS and we currently have 12 EdS graduates who've transitioned to the CMU EdD.”
In addition to her EdS degree from Northern, Betz tacked on a central office certification and administrator certificate.
“My credits, internship and thesis transferred and allowed me to begin the doctor of educational leadership halfway through the program,” she said. “Half was completed at Northern and the second half was completed at Central. It was great being able to complete the program in my hometown, where I can be in the classroom with my professors, with my cohort, with other students in the program working together.”
In her capacity as a principal, Betz finds joy in helping students and teachers grow and emphasizing the importance of continuous learning.
“I think the best thing we can do is view ourselves as continuing learners,” said Betz. “I really feel like I can make an impact being in education and teaching others that the best thing we can do is see ourselves as people who have to keep learning and that we should have a hunger for continuous learning.”