Courtney Jerkins, a student in the EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership program in the Baylor School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership, is one of two educational leaders statewide to receive a special TASA scholarship.
Jerkins, Coordinator of Elementary Science/Social Studies and English Learners for Midway ISD near Waco, will receive the 2019 Johnny L. Veselka Scholarship from the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) at the group’s Midwinter Conference Jan. 27-30 in Austin. The scholarship recognizes the leadership of Dr. Johnny L. Veselka, who dedicated nearly 44 years of service to the association, including 32 years as TASA’s executive director. TASA awards the scholarship annually to two outstanding doctoral students pursuing careers in educational leadership, with particular emphasis on the superintendency.
Jerkins said, “I am pursuing the superintendency because it is a culmination of all of the things that have shaped my life thus far — a desire to serve others, a passion for education, a desire to support students and teachers, and now a desire to work with entire communities to promote student success.”
TASA is the professional association for Texas school superintendents and other administrators. The mission of the organization, which focuses on professional learning, advocacy and member engagement, is to promote, provide and develop leaders who create and sustain student-centered schools and develop future-ready students.
Now in her second year in the Baylor EdD program, Jerkins earned her BA in Anthropology from Yale University and an MEd in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment from Jones International University. She was a Teach for America Corps member from 2006-2008 and had a total of nine years as a classroom teacher in Georgia before entering administration. She is in her fourth year as an administrator at Midway ISD, having served as Coordinator for Science before her current position.
Jerkins said the Baylor EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership, led by Baylor faculty Dr. John E. Wilson and Dr. Karen Rue, has been a transformative experience for her. “Dr. Wilson, Dr. Rue, and my superintendent and Baylor mentor Dr. [George] Kazanas are three of the most talented, experienced, and knowledgeable educators in the field,” she said. “They have given me the tools to help students now and in the future by sharing their own experiences and also connecting our cohort with current and former superintendents, legislators, and others who are actively shaping education today.”
She said that the program has enhanced her professional effectiveness already. Through one of her Baylor classes, Jerkins co-wrote a $30,00 grant that renovated five science lab classrooms at Midway Middle School. “Without Dr. Rue’s class, I would not have had the guidance needed to accomplish this,” she said.
Jerkins said the program has also expanded her view of education and inspired her to set new goals for herself and her contributions to the field. “I now have a better understanding of the bigger picture – how educators, legislators, parents, students, and entire communities must work together for the success of our students,” she said.
Jerkins also said the bonds she has formed through the program are invaluable. “The members of my cohort are among the finest educators in the state of Texas,” she said. “I learn from them daily. We have supported and collaborated with each other professionally, and they are some of my dearest friends.”
ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.