“I evolved as a leader through each class. I knew I was ready to lead at the macro level just after I finished my course work.”
Before enrolling in SJU’s Interdisciplinary Doctorate of Educational Leadership Program, Nyshawana Francis-Thompson was a special education teacher and liaison for the School District of Philadelphia. While the rewards of teaching ignited her passion to make a bigger impact in the lives of others, she credits the program for giving her the confidence and skills to achieve this goal.
“I evolved as a leader through each class, and I knew I was ready to lead at the macro level just after I finished my course work,” says Francis-Thompson. “The program gave me confidence in my technical research skills, helped to ground me in ethical principles, and also gave me a solid theoretical foundation in my field.”
In the midst of her studies, she married, had a baby, and researched her dissertation in Bermuda, her husband’s homeland, after talking to educators in the island’s public school system.
“I became intrigued by Bermuda’s efforts at education reforms,” says Francis-Thompson.
She notes that while most people think of Bermuda as a picturesque location with pink sandy beaches and a tropical climate, her dissertation, “Beyond the Pink Sand: Case Studies of Experiences of Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) Implementation in the Bermuda Public School System” examines both the structural and educational hurdles the island must overcome.
“My research looks at an educational reform effort in Bermuda’s educational system, MTSS, which is a systematic process of providing academic and behavioral supports to the students in their schools,” says Francis-Thompson. “I uncovered the contextual issues faced by smaller, under-resourced countries as they try to put in place large-scale educational reform efforts.”
Beyond Bermuda, her desire to make a difference in Philadelphia was realized when she accepted a new job as Director of Special Education for a network of neighborhood schools located in the School District of Philadelphia.
A full profile about Francis-Thompson is available on the SJU news site.