Dance and physical education teacher Joseph DeLeo credits the Lynch School with helping him choreograph his next steps
Joseph DeLeo, M.Ed. ’20, a dance and physical education teacher at Providence’s La Salle Academy, came to Boston College’s Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development to develop the skills and know-how he needed to become a more effective and impactful leader in education. While DeLeo loves his current role at La Salle, long-term goals of becoming a school administrator brought him to the Lynch School, where he earned an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy, thriving as a Graduate Ambassador and benefiting from being surrounded by extraordinary people, students, and professors alike.
I love my current job teaching dance and physical education, but eventually, I might like to become a school administrator. So I started to look at possible paths to get there. Boston College has such a great reputation; when I saw the program at the Lynch School, I saw that they were offering an online program and I liked the flexibility that it offered. I attended an open house at BC and I absolutely loved it, especially the people. I talked with faculty members who were so willing to answer all my questions. I also liked that current students—working professionals—spoke about completing the program while working and keeping their existing jobs. I realize it sounds corny, but when I went to campus, I felt like this is it. I felt like I belonged.
I love teaching dance and I have loved being in the phys ed department at my school. Eventually, I’d like to be an administrator so that I may affect the lives of more students and impact their educational journeys from a more overarching view. The Lynch School was the perfect school to help me start that transition and bridge that gap by providing me with the knowledge and experience I need to eventually move into a leadership role.
For me, the most obvious advantage is the community and the people that you meet and interact with at the Lynch School. From my expert professors to my dynamic classmates, I’ve been lucky to learn from so many different people I’ve met or encountered at the Lynch School. I love the fact that my professors brought with them firsthand experience that comes from leading real schools. One of my professors was a principal at a high school in Massachusetts. Another professor worked as the superintendent of a district in Massachusetts and we still keep in touch. Many of my peers in the program are already working as assistant principals and principals. And we have a group text and we're connected on LinkedIn and other forms of social media, so when a position becomes available, there is always someone who alerts the group, which is a great resource and community to be part of.
I was extremely impressed with the ways in which the program developed my communication skills and taught me how to speak with colleagues on an administrative level. The experience encouraged me to ask questions to my colleagues at my school, digging deep to learn why they do what they do and how they do it. As a result, I’ve found myself more comfortable interacting with my colleagues across disciplines and departments. This led to me being seen as a leader at work, which has been an incredibly positive experience.
“For me, the most obvious advantage is the community and the people that you meet and interact with at the Lynch School. From my expert professors to my dynamic classmates, I’ve been lucky to learn from so many different people I’ve met or encountered at the Lynch School. ”
BC is big on social justice so that appealed to me immediately. I work in a Catholic school and I went to Catholic schools my whole life, so the Jesuit approach to education and to community was familiar in a great way. The mission at the Lynch School—seeing each child as an individual person, a human being that deserves the best education they can get—for me, this was crucial and inspiring. Even from our first class, Introduction to Educational Leadership, a whole section was dedicated to social justice leadership, which was wonderful. In general, the program taught educators how to be oriented to social justice in a way that supersedes religion. A lot of topics and ideas we talked about in my classes were not ideas I deal with on a day-to-day basis in my current job, but these conversations and ideas were useful as they still influenced my curriculum, my teaching, and my leadership.
Honestly, there’s a lot to be excited about: the online experience, the connections, and the people—professors and peers are so supportive of each other. The online program is fantastic. It was well established before COVID and was running smoothly thanks to a phenomenal online platform. I’ll be honest: when I arrived at BC, I was a little nervous about the online aspects of the program. But BC’s online system is incredibly intuitive and carefully curated by the professors. If I were a future Lynch School student, I’d be excited that this was not a program that was born out of COVID, but one that had existed before and had time to work out various growing pains into a smooth and effective program. There are also so many opportunities to get involved and learn through hands-on experience that’s not simply theoretical. Even if you’re an online-only student, there are tons of opportunities that bring you to campus.
It was extremely encouraging that in many of our most important classes, like Instructional Leadership, as well as in our Law and Education class, we were learning from working professionals and experts in their various fields, such as a superintendent who was tasked with crafting the curriculum for her whole district, Pre-K through 12. She had the experience of being a teacher, and a principal, and a superintendent so her perspective was fascinating and so well informed. Same with the law class: the professor in that course had been a practicing lawyer who still wrote articles and Supreme Court briefs on educational issues. That level of expertise coming from the brilliant individuals who make up the Lynch School faculty, it really can’t be beat.
In most of my classes, we were assigned study groups. And so anytime we had a virtual group project, it was with those people. What I really liked about this format was that those groups regularly changed, which forces you to work with everyone in the classroom. There are also ambassadors for the Educational Leadership program who reach out regularly, letting students know about various opportunities and events, both in-person and remote. So I would say the sense of community at the Lynch School lives inside and outside the classes, where students are encouraged to talk about their own experiences with education, both as a student and as an educator. And it’s a diverse group: educators from charter schools, vice principals, behavioral school teachers, Catholic school teachers, public school teachers, public school administrators. And we came from a variety of states and regions.
“If I were a future Lynch School student, I’d be excited that this was not a program that was born out of COVID, but one that had existed before and had time to work out various growing pains into a smooth and effective program. ”
Amazing. I remember at the first open house I attended, I met Professor (Rebecca) Lowenhaupt, and she ended up becoming one of my favorite professors once I enrolled. She and others at the Lynch School helped me hone my interests and goals in a way that wouldn’t have been possible on my own.
I would say it was either the law class, Education Law and Public Policy, or Instructional Leadership, which taught how to evaluate teachers through different modes of evaluation and how to create a curriculum. I also really enjoyed the practicum, because it gave us the chance to talk through different real-life issues from our respective schools and hear how our peers might deal with them.
I would say not to hesitate and to do it. Having an idea of what you hope to learn at the Lynch School before you arrive and what types of skills or expertise you’re hoping to develop can be helpful. However, it’s not a requirement. For me personally, I wasn’t entirely aware of my goals when I started the program and my advisor and professors were incredibly helpful at assisting me in articulating exactly what those goals were. So my advice would be to ask if you need help. Always ask questions and you’ll find that the nurturing environment at the Lynch School and the brilliant minds you’re surrounded by—they’ll guide you and help you figure out the rest.