by Allison Fleetwood
I cannot sit still. I love to try new things and have always been a lifelong learner. After fifteen years of teaching, I knew that I needed to further my education to continue to grow as an educator. I was drawn to the Evangel Doctor of Education Program due to the accessibility of the online courses while still fulfilling my role as a full-time teacher, theatre director, mother, and wife. I also found the course design, dissertation timeline, and faculty support appealing. I knew I would have a chance to really get to know my professors and advisor.
A major highlight of the doctoral program was the networking! I met so many innovative educators in this area. I have an arsenal of support and resources at my fingertips from working closely with my cohort. Even though 100% of the coursework was online, the summer residency connected you with your cohort by providing opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions on current issues in the world of education. These discussions gave me an opportunity to hear differing opinions based on other cohort members’ current educational settings and experiences. Lifelong friendships were quickly formed, and even after completing the program, I love supporting this amazing group of educators and asking for their support as we all continue to grow.
My dissertation focused on teacher self-efficacy in arts integration before and after an arts integration professional development cycle. I was blessed to have another teacher in my district in my doctoral cohort, and we were able to partner together to create a 10-week arts integration professional development cycle. My research was focused on teacher self-efficacy and my partner focused on student achievement. Fifteen early career teachers participated in this 10-week cycle, while also receiving coaching from me on ways to implement arts-integrated lessons.
This project has had a definite impact on my district. Teachers that were not a part of the cycle have heard what amazing things are happening in the participants’ classrooms, and they are reaching out to work one-on-one to implement some arts-integrated lessons. Arts integration is engaging students in a way that has not been done before. Through my doctoral work with my district, I have made connections and been able to build relationships with a variety of teachers and district leaders. Additionally, the knowledge I gained and my dissertation research experience has opened up doors for me to speak at conferences across the nation, develop and provide professional development for districts in surrounding states, and continue to build an arts integration intuitive in my own district. The opportunity for networking across the nation to help serve students in a variety of districts has been most fulfilling because it has given me the chance to share what I have learned on a broader level!
Dr. Allison Fleetwood completed her Ed.D. at Evangel in 2022. She currently serves as the Theater Department Head for Nixa High School in Nixa, Missouri.