The “Professor of the Year” award sounds like it’s meant for an individual. Don’t tell that to Patricia White. When the associate dean and professor in the School of Education received the Region XVII Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Professor of the Year award, she didn’t consider it a solo honor.
“I think this is a wonderful recognition for our team. Our doctoral faculty is phenomenal. I think we as a team have put in the blood, sweat and tears to make this program exceptional in every way,” said White, referring to the Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program she guides.
“This award is very special to us because ACSA is the leading organization in the country, probably the biggest one in the nation, that serves public school administrators, particularly at the principal and director and intermediate levels. I think the work that we’re trying to do is very aligned with what they’re trying to do: help the leaders of the future be the best they can be so our schools and our kids can reach their highest potential.”
Teacher, administrator, teacher
White says her career has come full circle now that she’s back to teaching. But instead of the fourth-graders with whom she began her career, she teaches the prospectus class for Brandman’s Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership program. The prospectus, also known as the dissertation proposal, usually becomes the first chapter of a doctoral candidate’s dissertation. White designed Brandman’s program so that dissertation work begins in the second year.
“We prepare our students and support them so they can finish their degree as quickly as possible,” said White.
With White’s guidance, Ed.D. students identify the purpose of the research they want to undertake, who to interview and sample, establish the urgency and the need for the study and define how their study will help the field their field of interest, whether that’s education or other occupations.
White, who came to Brandman in 2010 specifically to help set up the Ed.D. program, has a close affinity to those seeking educational leadership positions. Her career includes 21 years as a school district superintendent in three districts.
“I think the joy of being a superintendent was working with really wonderful people – people who were excited about what they were doing and wanting to make a difference in the lives of children and adults. That’s what motivated me,” she said. Her work as a superintendent also showed her how political the job was, eventually leading to her co-authored book “The Politically Intelligent Leader,” now in its second edition.
“We use that book (in the Brandman Ed.D. program) to help students understand the nature of politics in an organization. You can’t escape it, no matter what the organization is. You need to develop your skills for dealing with it effectively and for the greater good. Politics isn’t a negative. When it’s used appropriately and ethically, it’s a good thing,” said White.
Shaping the next generation of leaders
White said, like all those who teach at Brandman, she uses her experiences outside the university to shape programs for the next generation of leaders. Unlike her own master’s from Long Beach State and Ed.D. from USC programs, Brandman’s program emphasizes a real-world orientation.
“When I was in school every person did their own journey. It was all individual and isolated from others. We weren’t taking classes at the same time,” she said. “Brandman’s program is very integrated. Students work in teams, learn together, stay together for two full years. And we’re very experiential, applying the theory to real work situations and then analyzing that and what was learned.”
Just as ACSA is interested in developing leadership through its various seminars, conferences and award, so is Brandman.
“They’re very interested in knowing we have quality leadership in our schools. We prepare our students to prepare schools for the future.”
Pat White isn’t the only person from Brandman to earn regional honors from ACSA.
Brandman Ed.D. student Ed Cora, the superintendent of the Guadalupe Union School District, is the Region XIII Superintendent of the Year and was honored at a banquet on May 5 in Santa Barbara.
In February, Martinrex Kedziora, a cohort mentor for the Ed.D. program was honored by Region XIX as Assistant Superintendent of the Year. He’s since become the superintendent for the Moreno Valley Unified School District.