CANYON, TX (KFDA) - West Texas A&M University is creating its second doctoral program, this one aimed at educational leaders in rural parts of the panhandle.
Dr. Walter Wendler, WT's president, says educational leadership programs at large universities across the state tend to focus on the skills it takes to lead a school or school district in big cities, not so much in small towns.
The new doctorate in educational leadership - which WT plans to begin in the fall of 2018 - will work to bridge that gap in training.
The program is being designed specifically to train those wanting to lead smaller rural schools.
In those districts, principals and superintendents have a much more hands on role within the schools and in the communities.
"Probably two or three superintendents told me along the way that they have been in every home of every student in the district, which is interesting," said Wendler. "So they're more like a country doctor in a way. They engage the community in a whole different way."
Wendler noticed this when he toured the panhandle's high schools last year, often seeing superintendents helping set up for events and engaging with the students, not forced to sit in an office.
"The schools are very important in these communities. They're the glue that holds the community together," said Wendler. "More than one person told me that if anything ever happened to these schools, or our school, the community would just disband. It's the school that holds it together. That takes a special kind of leadership and education and preparation and management ability because it's an important task."
The curriculum would include standard education classes, but require no dissertation and be more applied learning for working rural educators.
The program will also be offered entirely online, so current teachers can work toward their doctorates while teaching.
"People have dreams and aspirations in those small communities, and I would really like to have WT be an institution that's known widely for attending to those kinds of ambitions that people have," said Wendler.
The program will go before the Texas A&M Board of Regents next month, and Wendler is confident it will be approved.