Where Passion and Leadership Meet -- UNI's Advanced Studies Certificate in Superintendency

ASC Superintendency feature story

Autumn Pino leaned forward in her chair, focused on the conversation in front of her and tonight’s topic: school finance.

 She was about to ask the presenter a question when she sensed a slight movement to her right. She turned and smiled as her daughter slid a sandwich in front of her. With a quick wink and silent “thank you,” she returned back to the dialogue unfolding on her computer screen. Forty-five minutes remained in her virtual class, part of the Advanced Studies Certificate (ASC) in superintendency program at the University of Northern Iowa.  

This hybrid program — delivered via Zoom, with Saturday seminars four weekends of the first semester and a class on campus for two days each summer — combines a quality educational experience with a flexibility that gives future superintendents and senior administrators from all corners of the state of Iowa a doable path toward achieving a graduate degree. Every two years, a new cohort of about 15 students begin.

“We have students from all over the state, and they’re really appreciative of this virtual mode of delivery, but blended with face-to-face time,” says Denise Schares, ‘86, ‘94, ‘04, who has been with the College of Education program for the past seven years, including leading it for the last three. “I have a student in Marcus, in the far northwest near Orange City, and also in Keokuk. You can’t hardly get much farther in your travels [in the state of Iowa] than that. But it’s been great work, and it really attests to our commitment to serving all geographic areas, as well as metro areas.”

Superintendents are the lead learners of their school systems — and within the K-12 setting, the pinnacle of administration. Interested educators work their way up the ladder through a combination of experience and education, adding endorsements and graduate degrees to fill gaps, gain knowledge and meet licensure requirements. According to historical archives at UNI’s Rod Library, the issue of advanced degree offerings was a topic of discussion at UNI from its earliest days as a teacher's college. Today's graduate degrees, including the ASC for superintendency, as well as ASC and master's for principalship and doctorate in education, are a natural continuum for Iowa’s leader in teacher education.

Click here to read the entire ASC Superintendency feature.