Sometimes even the principal has homework.
Such is the case for Lashonda Abdussatar, who is enrolled in the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership program at Youngstown State University (YSU).
“It’s something that I have wanted to do for a while,” she said. “It was timing. I know some people who have gone through the YSU program. It was the perfect fit for me.
“I like that the program doesn’t take forever. A lot of doctoral programs take years and years, and I didn’t want to take that long. I wanted to have a clear finish line.”
Abdussatar is in her sixth year as principal at Renwood Elementary School in Parma, Ohio, but she has been in administration for more than seven years.
“I liked how the classes in the program focus on leadership,” she said. “I also liked the idea of networking and meeting people from different places in my cohort.
“YSU has students from different areas of Ohio, so it’s not just people from my group. We are all professionals who all work in the field and are of similar age, which helped, too.”
The flexibility of YSU’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program gives Abdussatar the ability to carve out time for school in her busy life.
“It’s nice to work around a schedule and have the opportunity to collaborate with other people,” she said. “My professors have been so great.
“They push assignments out ahead of time, so nothing is last minute. The syllabus is clear and makes it easy to map out what we need to do and move forward. It’s awesome.”
Abdussatar was born and raised in Cleveland. After graduating from Shaw High School, she worked for a local television station.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies from Cleveland State University (CSU) in 1997, Abdussatar started her career as a social service worker.
“I always wanted to teach, but I was too far along in my classes to make the switch during my undergrad,” she said. “After I had my second child, I decided I wanted to go back and teach. That’s what I did. I started with special education, and it’s been awesome ever since.”
She added a Master of Public Administration in public policy analysis (2001) and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction K-12 (2004) from CSU while gaining valuable work experience.
“I did a couple of online courses in my master’s program,” she said. “It was similar to YSU’s doctoral program, where you have to respond to certain people on the discussion board within a day. That helped make it more manageable.”
Abdussatar has already benefited from the information that she has gained from the program and applied what she has learned to her career.
“I have enjoyed the leadership-specific courses because they talk about different leadership characteristics, case studies and examples of others,” she said. “I like the idea of learning from others’ mistakes.”
Plus, Abdussatar believes the increased knowledge has given her and her classmates a competitive advantage in potential career advancement.
“Once you start the program, you may interview for other positions and try to move up in your organization,” she said. “What we have learned has helped prepare us for those upper-level management positions and interviews with the activities and projects that we do in class. It puts us in a different box.”
Head of the Class
Abdussatar isn’t the only person in her family doing homework. She and her husband, Hamid, have five children — Brittany (30), Sakinah (24), Bilal (19), Jalil (16) and A’Ishah (15) — who are all in school, too.
“We have a family pact where we’re competing for highest GPA,” she said. “They are very excited but not shocked that I am in school, too. I have always done a lot with education. I like that they see me doing it.”
On track to graduate in Spring 2021, Abdussatar will become the first person in her immediate family to earn a doctoral degree. She plans to walk in the commencement ceremony and hopes to give back to her community with her degree.
“I would love to eventually teach classes at the college level as an adjunct,” she said. “I don’t want to do it permanently. I love working with the kids. When you get to a position as a superintendent, you get away from the kids. I like my role as a principal.”
Now that Abdussatar is in the home stretch of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program, she is happy that she didn’t hesitate to make the commitment. She plans to finish strong and have the best GPA in her family.
“It’s definitely worth it,” she said. “Even if you don’t think you have enough time, you just have to carve a little bit of time out of your day because of how flexible the program is. You can do it. Anybody can do it.”
Learn more about YSU’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership online program.