Bethany Teppe, Director of Graduate Academics for Baker’s Graduate School of Education, has seen a lot during her tenure at Baker. But this semester brought something entirely new.
“This is my 16th year at Baker, and I can’t remember a time before now when I have assigned a married couple to [teach] different cohorts but the same course in the same program at the same time,” Teppe said.
Drs. Jessica and Todd Dain both teach MSL 5050 Student Services, Climate, and Programs in the Master of Science in School Leadership program. Jessica teaches the Olathe cohort for educators in Olathe Public Schools, while Todd teaches the Overland Park cohort.
Jessica serves as the Olathe Public Schools assistant superintendent of support services. Todd is the principal at Shawnee Mission South High School. Both were thrilled with the opportunity to share what they know with future administrators.
For Todd, making the decision to return to Baker was an easy choice.
“I earned my doctorate from Baker in 2015 and had such a positive experience that it seemed like a great opportunity to give back,” he said.
Jessica sees the program as investing in Olathe’s future.
“All of our courses are taught on the Olathe Public Schools campus and instructors are all Olathe building or district administrators,” she said. “This program is a great opportunity for Olathe to grow our own future leaders!”
While both value the ability to give back to their students and the field of education, they have also been surprised by the professional growth they have gained through their students.
“[The students’] class discussions, forums, and insights have helped me grow in my role as a high school principal,” Todd said.
Jessica values the relationships she has built through teaching.
“Working at the district office, I miss the opportunity to work alongside teachers on an everyday basis,” she said. “Teaching in this program has afforded me the opportunity to interact more closely and build lasting relationships with our teachers who are interested in school leadership.”
While some wouldn’t enjoy working alongside their spouse, Jessica and Todd agree that this experience has helped shape their teaching.
“We are both competitive and we each want to find that instructional edge to challenge our students to be the best,” Todd said.
“When we can share and integrate our current experiences at the building and district level as it relates to leadership and administration, I think we push each other to create meaningful experiences for the teachers in which we guide and instruct,” said Jessica.
The Dains have the same goal as teachers: to encourage future leaders to reach their full potential.
“My hope for the Olathe teachers involved in this program is to gain theoretical knowledge from Baker University course work coupled with the ‘Olathe lens’ of current district practices, policies, procedures, and expectations,” Jessica said. “[I hope] that upon completion of this Baker program, they are highly prepared to be competitive candidates for our district administrative positions and leadership opportunities.”
Todd seconded that idea.
“I hope that students feel prepared to step into the role as a building principal,” he said. “Moreover, I hope they are inspired to become transformational leaders that can lead change and foster positive learning cultures for young people in our schools.”