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Columbus college to offer doctorate program in Lee County

Instruction will be provided at West Middle School

Larry Walters, superintendent of schools in Lee County, says the agreement with Columbus State University is a great opportunity for educators in Southwest Georgia. (File Photo)

Larry Walters, superintendent of schools in Lee County, says the agreement with Columbus State University is a great opportunity for educators in Southwest Georgia. (File Photo)

LEESBURG — Lee County’s public school system and Columbus State University have entered into an agreement for CSU education professors to teach in Leesburg a group of system educators pursuing CSU’s education doctorate.

A memorandum of understanding for CSU to serve this Leesburg-based cohort of students pursuing the Ed.D. in curriculum and leadership will be signed during a ceremony and reception from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Monday in the Lee County Board of Education board room at 126 Starkville Ave. North in Leesburg.

“The Leesburg cohort represents a significant step in the growth in our Ed.D program,” said Tom Hackett, CSU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We’re delighted to develop this partnership with the Lee County school system. Leadership in curriculum development and program assessment has never been more critical for education in Georgia than today. This partnership is a significant step forward in the development of leaders for schools in Georgia.”

CSU’s Leesburg-based education doctorate classes, which will begin this summer, offers an opportunity for principals and other educational leaders to acquire the skills, knowledge and dispositions necessary to provide exemplary leadership and effective management for educational organizations.

Lee County’s school system is providing the classroom space at West Middle School, 190 Smithville Road, for the inaugural 20-student class.

“This is just a wonderful opportunity for educators in southwest Georgia,” said Larry Walters, Lee County schools superintendent. “Not only for employees in Lee County, but (also) surrounding areas. People are so thankful for this because people need a degree like this to advance in their careers.”

Family concerns and other obligations make it impossible for many prospective students to drive the 85-90 miles to Columbus or Valdosta State University to pursue such a graduate degree, he said.

“(I) had a woman come up to me after a meeting and tell me what a true blessing this is for her,” Walters said. “ Without a terminal degree, a lot of educators in their area, their careers would be dead in the water.”

The program will provide its students with three years plus one semester of a custom-designed core curriculum taught by CSU’s education faculty.

The Ed.D. program director, Michael D. Richardson, CSU’s Fuller E. Callaway Chair in Education Leadership, will teach its first two classes. Two eight-week classes will be taught consecutively each semester. They are hybrid classes with the professor teaching onsite in Leesburg for one week, and students taking course classes online the next week.

“The length of the program is unusual and is set up in such a way that the doctoral dissertation classes and the chapters of the dissertation are taught at the same time as the coursework,” said Michael Johnson, assistant coordinator of the Educational Leadership Program. “By doing it this way, we are ensuring that more people will actually complete the degree.”

Some studies have shown that, nationally in education, 70 percent of students fall short of a doctorate because they complete coursework but never get the dissertation done.

For more information on the program, visit http://ColumbusState.edu/doctorate.