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Wingate University's first doctoral program graduate to lead Wingate Elementary School

7/7/2011
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Michael Henderson recently earned a Doctor of Education degree  in Educational Leadership from Wingate University and obtained a new position as principal of Wingate Elementary School.
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Wingate, N.C. -- With nine years of experience in school administration under his belt and his doctorate degree in hand, Michael Henderson is ready for his new position as principal of Wingate Elementary School.

He is one of 20 students in Wingate University's charter class to complete the doctoral program at the Matthews Campus and earn the Ed.D. degree in educational leadership. Based on N.C.'s 21st Century education standards, the doctoral program takes a new approach to training future educators. Taught by experienced superintendents and administrators, the program addresses real issues facing today's schools. To complete his degree Henderson had to complete a capstone project which entailed resolving a problem or issue impacting the effectiveness of a school, school district or educational service agency.

His final project addressed the issue of class roster creation and how elementary school administrators group students based on a set of key indicators. When considering his project, Henderson's preliminary study found no current research on the topic. "No one had done anything on this," he said. "I was kind of a pioneer."

Henderson identified 24 key indicators that may be helpful when creating class rosters and created a questionnaire for Union County's 27 elementary school leaders. He found the schools that considered certain factors had higher reading growth than schools that did not. The indicators dealt with areas such as learning styles, teacher experience and clustering students with exceptionalities. For example, grouping AIG students with certain teachers played a role in reading success as well as the number of years a teacher has taught in a certain grade level.

Other key indicators dealt with students with a history of misbehavior. He also looked at teacher history of EOG test performance and peer role models in the classroom. Henderson found that the schools that followed 11 of the indicators showed less reading growth among their students than schools that considered 18. He presented his results to the 27 elementary schools in May. "I've received so much positive feedback from principals," said Henderson.

"As an adjunct professor in the Wingate doctoral program, I had the pleasure of having Mike in class and I am so proud of him for completing the program in such an exemplary fashion," said Union County Schools Superintendent Ed Davis. "His doctoral capstone project will be most valuable to elementary principals in working to establish class rolls. Mike's work in this area will be of great benefit to any principal who chooses to use the indicators identified in his project."

Henderson was reassigned in June from his position at Shiloh Elementary School to Wingate Elementary School, just around the corner from his alma mater. "It is a bit ironic that he completed the degree and then I decided to reassign him to Wingate Elementary," said Davis. "It was not designed to happen that way, but things have a way of working out well for good people. Wingate Elementary is a great school and Dr. Henderson will take it to even greater heights."

Now that he's earned the highest degree in his field, he is looking forward to trading his 20 hours of weekly study time with more family time. "My goal was to be done with the program before my new daughter started walking," said Henderson. She is now eight months old and will soon take her first steps while her father steps into his new role.

Wingate University's doctoral program currently has more than 80 students in nine counties who, like Henderson are working as practicing school leaders aspiring to become principals, superintendents and central office administrators. "Our graduates in the program will eventually assume new roles as a large percentage of current superintendents and principals are expected to retire in the next ten years," said Lloyd Wimberley, director of the Wingate University's graduate education program. At least 25 percent of the doctoral candidates have moved into new positions as a result of their continued education, according to Cynthia Compton, assistant professor of education at Wingate's Matthews Campus. "These people are now in a good position to do great things for kids."

About Wingate University
Founded in 1896, Wingate University is a comprehensive university with more than 2,300 students on three campuses in Wingate, Matthews and Hendersonville, N.C. The university offers 34 undergraduate majors, 37 minors and career concentrations, numerous pre-professional programs, graduate degrees in business, accounting, education, physician assistant studies and sport administration, and doctorates in pharmacy and education. With a 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio, Wingate students gain the tools and support they need to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life. The campus community offers in-class learning, out-of-class experiences, strong mentors, a competitive yet caring environment and rewarding community service opportunities for a complete educational experience.

In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 19 NCAA Division II sports, and the University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past five years.

For more information, go to www.wingate.edu.