Steven Reeder had only one motivation to pursue a teaching career: football.
“In reality, teaching was a means to an end,” he said. “The end was coaching. To do that, I had to teach. I was not that kid in high school who wanted to be a teacher. There are some kids I teach who say, ‘I want to be a teacher.’ I never did.”
Still, Reeder took the educator ball and ran with it.
Fifteen years later, he hopes to transition into an administrative role after graduating from the Arkansas State University Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Principalship online program in May 2017.
Reeder, who teaches U.S. Government and Advanced Placement Psychology and coaches the varsity offensive line at Collierville High School in Tennessee, hopes to eventually hang up his whistle and become an assistant principal.
“I have certification throughout the State of Tennessee with my administrator’s license, so it’s just a matter of finding a job,” he said. “I like the school where I teach and coach now, and my daughter will be going to school here in the next year or so. I’m not planning on changing schools.”
Reeder earned a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1996 and a Master of Arts in teaching in 2006 — both from the University of Memphis. Collierville is the third high school he has worked for during his career as an educator. He lived in Alabama and South Carolina before moving to the Memphis area in 1987.
“Part of me was hoping to become a high school head football coach, but when I realized that wasn’t happening, my next step up was educational administration,” Reeder said. “I saw that Arkansas State was a certified program in the State of Tennessee. So, I reached out to the people in Jonesboro and started down that path.”
Solid Game Plan
Because Reeder has such a busy schedule, especially during football season, the online format was essential to his success in the Ed.S. in Principalship program.
“The flexibility was what I liked most — the ability to take classes when I needed to, as I needed to,” he said. “I didn’t know anybody who had taken classes through Arkansas State online, so it was pretty much blind hope that it would be easy to be successful; easy, not in terms of the classroom, but easy in terms of the functionality of the online platform.”
Once Reeder got all of the information about the program, he was ready to be on the receiving end of homework again. From the opening kickoff to the final gun, the online program was everything Reeder had hoped it would be.
“After I sat down and determined how much it would cost and how quickly I could do it, I was ready to do it pretty much from the get-go,” he said. “With A-State’s flexible classes and the ability to take classes in the summer, it allowed me to do it faster than I thought I could. Once you got in and understood how the process worked, it was real simple.”
Reeder’s two favorite courses in the Ed.S. in Principalship curriculum were ELAD 6073: School Law and ELAD 6003: School and Community Relations.
“School Law was one of the first courses I took,” he said. “That worked out really well, because I was teaching government. Having to do that class allowed me to not only investigate state and national laws involving education but also made me look into policies at my high school and how they applied to other state and federal laws. Community Law covered things like how textbooks were adopted, how school websites were done and management plans.”
The accessibility of the instructors was another aspect of the online program that impressed Reeder.
“The information in the video blogs and assignments were not only easy to follow but easy to understand,” he said. “The professors or their graduate assistants were always available to answer questions — especially via email.
“If you’re in a classroom setting, the professor is right there if you have a question. In an online setting, email is invaluable because you get through a process and may have a question about what you’re doing. They made themselves quite available to us all of the time.”
Reeder, whose wife, Kimberly, has an MBA from Mississippi State, had lots of support from friends, family and colleagues while he earned his Ed.S. in Principalship. Now, he is recruiting new students for his alma mater and paying it forward.
“The program was something that many of my colleagues were looking into,” he said. “I became someone who answer questions and who could explain how the process worked. I tell anybody that has asked me about going back to college that Arkansas State’s online program is not only cost-effective but it is certainly one of the easiest online programs to navigate.”
When fellow educators take heed of Reeder’s recommendation and enroll at A-State online, Reeder also has some pointers to help them succeed.
“When you start the program, be flexible,” he said. “Have a good working knowledge of technology, but don’t be scared of it — it’s not anything to be frightened of. It’s very user-friendly. The people I talked to were all good, from when I enrolled to the professors.
“Anything I had imagined about getting an educational specialist degree, Arkansas State far exceeded my expectations in terms of being able to navigate the program smoothly. Everybody was helpful at every turn. The value of the A-State online Ed.S. is hard to quantify.”
Learn more about the Arkansas State University online Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in Principalship program.