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Featured Grad: Dr. Ryan Saunders ’16E, ’19DE

Featured Grad: Dr. Ryan Saunders ’16E, ’19DE

Ryan Saunders

Hometown: Chappell, NE

Plans after graduation: Currently Principal of Cody Elementary in Millard Public Schools


What was your most memorable experience at Doane?


The two graduation ceremonies I have been a part of at Doane have been very special to me. Not only were they the culmination of dreams I have had for years now, I also got to share those experiences with my own children, which was so special.


What was the most beneficial class you took during your time at Doane and why? 


I have been fortunate to have had many excellent learning opportunities at Doane. I think looking back, my entire Ed.S. experience stands out as a highlight. Additionally, the Ed.D. program was highlighted by the PLC classes that led us to collaborate, connect, and think differently.


Who was your favorite instructor? 


I had the opportunity to learn from many talented and caring staff members at Doane. Dr. Doug Christensen and Dr. Tim Frey have certainly left a lasting imprint on how I think about the work I do.


How do you hope to utilize your degree after graduation? 


I hope to leverage my learning to impact my building, district, and the work we do as educators. I could see moving into a district position sometime in the future and potentially landing at a college teaching.


How were you able to balance the workload of being a full-time student along with your work and other activities?


This was a challenge often, but I am fortunate to have a very understanding wife and family as well as exceptional mentors who helped me find and keep this balance. I would be lying if I said that I had it perfectly figured out even for a second over the past few years, but through the grace of those around me I was able to stay afloat.


Who or what will you miss most about Doane?


I will miss the collaboration with all the talented classmates I have had over the years. I have learned so much from listening to their ideas and experiences. The impact their thinking has had on my own beliefs and thinking is immeasurable!


How did your time at Doane shape you into the person you are today? 


I certainly would not be celebrating my doctorate without the encouragement, guidance, and influence of the teaching staff at Doane. I think differently, collaborate differently and lead differently because of my experiences with the staff and my classmates. 


What would your advice be to potential future students?


If you are considering Doane as a potential landing spot to continue your education, I am confident in saying that you will not be disappointed in your choice. The opportunity to engage with others from around the state will be fostered by the culture at Doane. If you embrace that culture, you will find no end to the learning opportunities in front of you!


How will you apply what you discovered in your dissertation moving forward?


I am proud of the work in my dissertation and hope that it provides some context for schools as they are presented with the challenges of engaging fathers. I hope to apply my knowledge not only to support the work of my district and immediate colleagues but additionally to other building leaders looking to engage fathers in schools. 


What inspired you to come to Doane?


Doane has always been a school on my radar, even when I graduated high school. When it became time to continue my education as a sitting principal with young children, it was clear that Doane would be best at allowing me to balance being a dad, husband, principal, and student.  Additionally, my colleagues who attended Doane were raving about their own experiences and many of them were leaving with a disposition that made them strong candidates for the jobs they wanted. Doane ended up being the perfect fit for my needs and I have never regretted my decision to become a Doane Tiger!