New Grads Face Growing Challenges

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

An historic winter commencement ceremony at Madison's Alliant Energy Center as Edgewood College grants its first ever doctoral degrees. Sunday, twelve candidates received Doctor of Education degrees in Educational Leadership.

According to State Superintendent of Schools, Elizabeth Burmaster, "Student academic success really hinges on the leaders in our school districts." But, as Burmaster, one of today's keynote speakers, underscores their importance, she also understands their plight, explaining, "This next generation of educational leaders and teachers in our school are going to be facing tremendous challenges and great demands."

"It's very difficult. The revenue caps at the state level have made it very difficult for all of us to continue to keep up with the budget crisis in all of our public schools."

Heather Terrill is a member of this first class. She continues, "We're all licensed superintendents now, we could be, if we wanted to be superintendents." Terrill is also a seven–year veteran principal in a Verona area elementary school. "While there are some good things happening, the budget isn't there to help us out and that has made it a crisis situation in many of our schools in the state of Wisconsin."

Less than two weeks ago, the Madison Metropolitan School District announced a hiring freeze as it attempts to trim one million dollars from its operational budget this year. And last week, Manpower's quarterly Employment Outlook Survey says the current “downward slide continues in the first quarter of 2005,” adding, “employers…in the Midwest have the weakest hiring intentions.”

Terrill says part of her challenge will involve helping new teachers find 'the silver lining.' "Continue to follow the Edgewood mission about spirit and hope and intellect and passion for what we do as people and it may sound cliché but I think that's really important."

A total of 144 new grads were expected to participate in today's commencement ceremony.

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