For Kevin Krahenbuhl, director of the Assessment, Learning and Student Success doctoral program at Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Education, the program hitting its 10-year milestone means a lot not just for MTSU but for the students and school communities touched by the work of program graduates.
“The candidates in our program are unique,” Krahenbuhl said. “They are all practicing professionals who are leading positive change in schools, and 10 years means, to me, a lot of opportunity for positive impact thanks to the wonderful candidates and team we have assembled in the program.”
More commonly known as the ALSS program, the degree equips practicing educators in K-12 classrooms and beyond, expanding to include even those in education stakeholder roles, to become agents of change in their schools and communities rather than preparing them to leave the classroom or their community position and enter academia.
“There are tons of doctoral programs for educators,” Krahenbuhl said. “We emphasize what real-world practicing professionals can leverage to maximize their positive impact while at work … and largely I’d say we’ve been wonderfully successful in this.”
To honor that success, Krahenbuhl and other program leadership put on a 10-year celebration for current and former program designers, faculty and staff, and students, with around 45 attending for photos, food, awards and more.
“It was a get together to showcase some of the ‘wins’ for candidates across the decades (and) to reconnect with others,” he said.
Lando Carter, one of the program’s core education faculty, said he joined the program after getting so much out of it himself as a student.
“I was thrilled to join the program and begin to give back in that same way,” said the Hendersonville, Tennessee, native who also attended the celebration.
Added Carter: “The highlights are lengthy” from the program’s first decade. “Many class projects from my own time in the program have turned into real initiatives and publications, and I have also helped cohort members since then do the same. The relationships built across time have also been a highlight. I’m part of a strong and expansive network of change agents because of this program, and I am grateful.”
Krahenbuhl, who took over the director position in 2015, said the curriculum’s focus on real-world research has been a major catalyst for affecting change in schools.
“We have had our students complete over 1,000 action research projects in K-12 settings aimed at impacting learning in positive ways,” said Krahenbuhl, originally from Tempe, Arizona. “That is awesome, not just because of the number but because all of these were done intentionally, seeking relevant evidence to inform action and next steps.”
A partnership with Murfreesboro City Schools announced last year added even more research opportunities for candidates, allowing them to analyze MCS data in exchange for providing expertise based on those results. Trey Duke, MCS director, is also a graduate of the program and has said that MTSU played an important role in his career as an educator.
Other 10-year highlights include earning membership in the prestigious Carnegie Foundation’s Project on the Education Doctorate and alumni, such as Michael Ford, a principal in Columbia Tennessee, earning an Excellence in STEM Leadership award this year from the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network.
Now, Krahenbuhl is looking to the future.
“I look forward to the next 10 and beyond to see that scale in (our) impact,” he said.
Learn more about the program at https://www.mtsu.edu/programs/assessment-learning-student-success-k12/. Learn more about all the opportunities at the College of Education at https://www.mtsu.edu/education/.
— Stephanie Wagner (Stephanie.Wagner@mtsu.edu)