“The most rewarding aspect is seeing progress”: Q&A with Andre’-Mar’Quis Mitchell-Franklin, MEd ’17
Earning an MEd in Educational Leadership while teaching full time is a daunting challenge, both financially and schedule-wise. Add in family tragedy, trauma and cancer—and it feels impossible. Andre’ didn’t give up, but he also didn’t do it alone. Find out who helped him find the strength to continue, course by course to fulfill his goal.
What inspired you to work in education?
I went into education because I grew up in an area where there were not a lot of role models to look up to… yet I kept searching for one. I searched my entire early education all the way through high school graduation. And when I never found it, I felt I was supposed to become that missing role model and influence.
What made you choose Concordia?
I chose Concordia after a massive search through commercials and testimonials and all sorts of things, and it just felt right. The first school that I went to was faith-based, and I found myself really loving that aspect of Concordia. I felt drawn to it.
Do you have a favorite course or experience from your master’s program?
I had two, actually. The first was Character and Ethics of Leadership, which was monumental for me. It forced me to dig within myself to find the most positive aspects of what makes me unique in leadership, and I don’t do that much because I like to see the progress of others and how I can help instead of understanding how I’m doing it myself. This course forced me to see the other side. And in that, I found a lot of positive things. Also, a lot of insecurities to face. By the end of the program, I felt like I really benefited.
My Organizational Leadership course, also taught me more out about myself, from a human resources perspective to my structural leadership, to my vision. I found myself so excited per week just to see what the reading would be, so I could use it in my classroom. It was very rewarding. I never expected to be so aligned with what I was doing daily.
What was the hardest part of earning this degree and what or who helped you through it?
The hardest part was simply progressing. I had so many personal issues in my life and family. My family went through a hurricane in Texas. I’m a cancer survivor. I teach full time. It was tough. Sometimes I just felt like I couldn’t do it. And I think what tends to happen when you’re in such a progressive program, is that you fear once you’re behind, it’s impossible to catch up.
I honestly remember feeling like, “You know what? This is too much. I don’t even want to continue. Maybe I should take a month off. Maybe I should just, wait. Maybe this just isn’t the time.” So, for me, it got very deep. It got very dark.
But the support from my advisor was there from the beginning. I always knew that she was someone I could go to. And in no time, I sent an email saying, “I have to be honest with you. These are the things that I’m going through and I just don’t feel very positive about moving forward. I know that I can’t finish this program.” And she snapped me right out of it.
I also got emails from other people within the community saying, “Hey, if you need anything, I’m here. We understand what you’re going through.” Even my instructor reached out to me with a very personal message and a prayer. And I thought, this support is unbelievable. This is more support than I get in the real world.
What keeps you motivated and is the most rewarding aspect of working in education?
I think the most rewarding aspect of working in education is seeing progress, watching my students want to know more. That’s my encouragement. To know that there is someone, or many little people, looking up to me who see me five out of seven days of the week is a reward for me. Just knowing that I have that responsibility and that I’m able to instill in these students more development. That to me is the motivation. And that will probably always be the only thing I need.
What kind of student were you when you were younger?
Education was definitely not an obvious career path for me. As a student, I was horrible. I looked for attention. I had behavior issues. I was the one to talk loud in class. I was the class clown. All of the above. I was the worst student that you can ask for. But in my adult life, I have that student. That was me. So I understand it better. That attention seeking comes from a place of saying, “Listen, I want direction. I want something to look up to.” At least that’s what it was for me. And in my classroom when I see that, I offer myself. It’s a promise that I made to myself.
For me, guidance aligns with teaching directly. You’re helping someone to get on the correct path. You’re helping someone to see the light. You’re someone’s beacon. And for me, that’s been, what this thing has been all about.
Kara Wyman has a BA in literature and an MEd from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She spent a decade working with adolescents as an English teacher, the founder and director of a drama program, a curriculum designer, and a project manager for a teen-centered nonprofit organization. She is now the Alumni and Community Manager for Concordia University-Portland.