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Kyle Braden was no stranger to the world of graduate school.

In 2011, the math and engineering teacher at Blue Valley High School earned his Master of Arts in Education from Baker and had a great experience.

“I found the classes to be worthwhile and really felt like I grew as a teacher by completing that course work,” Braden said.

Memories of that Baker experience drew him back when he became the chair of the Mathematics Department at Blue Valley High School in 2016. Braden embraced his new role and wanted to be the best leader possible for his team. He learned about Baker’s online cohort for the Master of Science in School Leadership and knew it would be a good fit.

“I chose the program because of both my previous positive experience with Baker and the flexibility that the online program offered,” he said. “I knew that any degree program was going to be a huge time commitment and looked for opportunities that would allow me to be at home with my wife and two daughters as much as possible.”

Balancing a family, a career, and school wasn’t easy, but Braden found the course work to be exactly what he was looking for.

“The course work was challenging but beneficial,” he said. “There are so many aspects to school leadership that I never considered until experiencing them through the course work and shadowing opportunities.”

He cited the administrator’s role in providing student support as an example.

“As teachers work to care for the whole child within the classroom, school leaders must ensure that student support extends beyond the classroom walls,” he said. “School leaders consistently work with psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, and counselors to ensure that each student receives the support that he or she needs.”

In addition to a broader understanding of school leadership, Braden values the Baker community he found in his cohort.

“The cohort aspect was amazing,” Braden said. “Because we were an online cohort, we had members from all over Kansas as well as one teacher from Missouri. The diversity of the group enhanced the learning environment. The variety of experiences and overall wisdom of the group helped me gain a more holistic understanding of school leadership. I know that my peers from Cohort 23 and I will continue to support one another in the years ahead.”

Braden will graduate in December and is already preparing for the next phase of his career. He has accepted a position as an instructional design coach and 6-12 math coordinator for the Blue Valley School District and was also accepted into the district’s Aspiring Principal Academy.

“The knowledge that I gained through the MSSL program has helped me tremendously as I have performed the duties of these new roles,” he said. “I am passionate about learning and helping others. Going back to school gave me the opportunity to learn a new way to support students and fellow teachers.”

After becoming Baker built a second time, Braden is grateful for the continued support and inspiration he has received from his education.

“Baker helped me determine what I value as an educational leader [and] helped provide me with mentors that have and will continue to support me as I develop my leadership capabilities,” he said. “From academic advisors to building mentors, program supervisors to cohort peers, I have a network of people who I can trust to help me continue to grow as an educational leader.”

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