Featured Grad: Brandon Mowinkel ’20E
Hometown: Osmond, NE
As Principal at Milford Jr./Sr. High School, what has it been like for you as an administrator during the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to evaluate nearly every system we have in place, while looking for solutions to problems and issues we never thought we would have to face as educators. As a principal, it is like preparing a game plan for a basketball game and showing up on game day and finding out you are actually playing football. Day in and day out we are making the best educational decisions possible with the information we have available at the time. However, that information is constantly changing so we have to be able to continue to not only educate our students, but provide extracurricular activities and opportunities which are safe. The pandemic has definitely taken its toll on us all but together we will get through this.
How have you been able to apply what you learned in the Ed.S. program into your day-to-day work at Milford?
Every single day. The work I did throughout the Doane Ed.S program allowed me to look at the work we do each day through a systems perspective. Whether it is working with students, staff, parents, or community members, each group plays a vital role in ensuring the educational system we have in place is working effectively. Being able to evaluate these systems and make the appropriate adjustments, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been an invaluable tool in moving forward even in the most challenging times.
What do you think was the most impactful component of Doane's Ed.S. program?
Two areas stick out to me when I think about the impactfulness of Doanes Ed.S program. The first would be the desire of the program's designers and professors to make relationship building an integral part of the program. Through the cadre format, we were able to grow professionally by learning from the unique perspectives each of us brought to class each month. Our conversations and group discussions lead to a deeper understanding of educational issues while building a sense of community, professionalism, and friendship that we will all carry with us in the jobs we do every day. Our stories are better because of the ability to grow with our classmates in a face-to-face setting.
The art of self-reflection is another skill that I developed over the past 3.5 years which has played a major role in both my professional and personal life. What was once a practice I only did sporadically has become part of my daily routine. Each day I carve out time to write and reflect about the events taking place around me. Through these reflections, I have been able to dig deeper into understanding my own leadership skills and abilities and hopefully have a larger impact on not only my school community but the network of principals at the regional, state, and national level through the sharing of my writing.
You also started the Doctorate of Education (EdD) program at Doane in August. Why did you decide to continue your education right away and what are you looking forward to most about the journey of earning your doctorate?
Growing up, I lived in a household where I saw first hand the impact educators can have on a school and community. As a lifelong educator and administrator, my father modeled to my sisters and me the importance of continually learning and growing. The benefits of lifelong learning is a value I hold dear and continuing with my Ed.D was the easy choice. My family and friends know this has been a lifelong goal of mine and are not only my greatest supporters but also inspiration to complete this final degree.
The support I received throughout the Ed.S program made it an easy choice to continue at Doane. I look forward to continuing this educational journey with a handful of my classmates from Ed.S. Cadre 6 while meeting, learning, and growing from others that are on this same path. What I look forward to most on this journey is the ability to challenge myself and my own thinking. Rarely do we take the time to dig as deep as the Ed.D program will into topics that can have an impact on education for years to come. While the road ahead of me will be filled with twists and turns, potholes, and detours, I am excited for where it will ultimately lead.
What do you think makes Doane's College of Education programs so successful and impactful?
The Doane Way! Doane has created a culture within their education programs where students receive the help, guidance, tools, and support they need to be successful in their chosen field and expertise. Each college or university provides unique opportunities for their students but I have found the support Doane has given throughout my journey has been extremely beneficial in helping me grow professionally.
Will you be doing anything fun to celebrate earning your second master's degree?
In the world of COVID-19 the short answer is probably not at this time. Hopefully, this spring and summer will bring about some relief from the stresses of the pandemic and life can slowly begin to get back to normal. When that happens we will definitely get together with friends and family to celebrate not only this accomplishment but those of so many others that we have missed over the past nine months.