Oct. 4, 2010
St. Joseph middle school principal reaps benefits of Northwest's alternative certification program
MARYVILLE, Mo. - As an undergraduate student, Sandy Steggall was focused on pursuing a career in business. She completed her business management degree in 2003 with intentions of pursuing a career as a broker.
But she remained drawn to the classroom. She grew up around teachers - her mother was a first grade teacher for 30 years - and after starting a family Steggall realized the classroom was where she felt most comfortable. "I realized teaching was my passion and that's what I wanted to do," she said.
She returned to school and began pursuing her alternative certification at Northwest Missouri State University. She completed the program in 2005, earned her master's degree in secondary administration in 2007 and added her specialist degree last year, all through Northwest.
During the same period, Steggall, of Hamilton, Mo., taught at Central High School in St. Joseph for three years and spent the last three school years as assistant principal. This fall she became principal of Truman Middle School in St. Joseph.
"At first I didn't see myself as principal," Steggall said. "But I classify myself as a do-er. I'm constantly moving, I like a challenge, I like to set goals. Now that it's happened, I love it. I wouldn't change anything at all."
Northwest's alternative certification program is designed for individuals who have recently accepted a teaching position but are not certified. Participants in the program can obtain their certification at the secondary or middle school levels as well as in K-12 certification exploratory areas or in special education.
With classes just one night per week during the first year, the program is designed for working teachers. Classes meet at Northwest's St. Joseph Center, the Kansas City Center in Liberty, via interactive television to certain sites and online. Additionally, the program meets Missouri certification requirements and includes some graduate credit.
"One of the nice things about the alternative certification program is that the qualified candidates can teach while they are working to complete their certification requirements," said Dr. Carla Mebane, alternative certification director. "We have several districts that we are working with and most comment on how satisfied they are with our candidates."
Steggall said she enjoyed the benefits of participating in the cohort program and developing strong bonds with new teachers with whom she could relate. She also appreciated the seamless transition between the alternative certification and master's programs.
"What I enjoyed most about the alternative certification was that they had this crash course two weeks before school started," Steggall said. "It was very beneficial because it taught you about classroom management and the bare essentials you needed for the first few weeks of school."
Now Steggall has her sights set on her next goal. She's working on her doctorate degree at Baker University and hopes to complete it by the time she turns 30 in two years. She hopes one day to serve as a school superintendent and eventually teach college education courses.
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