College of Education > News and Publications > 2015: 07-09 news > Penn State online graduate degree helps principal in Qatar improve her school

Penn State online graduate degree helps principal in Qatar improve her school

Kelsie Abduljawad, of Doha, Qatar, graduated in December 2014 with a master’s degree in educational leadership that she completed online through Penn State World Campus. She has been able to apply what she learned in her coursework to help with decision-making for her school’s accreditation, professional development programming and curriculum.

A Penn State graduate is putting the master’s degree she earned online to use at her job as an assistant school principal in Doha, Qatar.

Kelsie Abduljawad
Kelsie Abduljawad, left, is an assistant principal at Al-Arqam Academy in Doha, Qatar. She earned a master's degree in educational leadership online through Penn State World Campus in 2014, and she has been able to apply the knowledge from her degree to help improve her school. Image: Esra Abduljawad

Kelsie Abduljawad graduated in December 2014 with a master’s degree in educational leadership that she completed online through Penn State World Campus. While she was working toward her degree, she applied her coursework to a job at Al-Arqam Academy, an all-girls Islamic school in Qatar’s capital.

“I was able to apply everything I was learning to my work right away,” she said. “It made a huge impact on how I viewed my processes and my programs. Pairing my professional work with my coursework was absolutely amazing.”

Abduljawad began her studies with Penn State in January 2012 after spending more than half a year researching online master’s degrees in education.

“I wanted something that had the quality that I felt matched my goals,” she said. “Penn State offered something that really ticked all of the boxes for me.”

Around the time that Abduljawad began her studies, her school had started a national accreditation process. Abduljawad played an important role in her school’s work on accreditation, thanks to two of her classes.

She helped drive the school’s work on researching how students were meeting educational goals by applying what she learned from class.

As a result of her degree’s professional development course, she realized the teachers in her school should be able to learn at their own pace or in groups of people who are like-minded. She developed a manual for her school to outline information all teachers need to know, such as rules for sick time, vacation time or the mission of the school, instead of making teachers sit through long presentations. The class has led her to believe that teachers will benefit more working their way through material at their own pace.

“We’re asking the students to be motivated learners, and we’re doing all the wrong things when trying to teach teachers anything new,” she said.

“Penn State offered something that really ticked all of the boxes for me.”

Abduljawad also got from her coursework the concept of “flipping” the professional development program by putting content online. That plan is in the works.

One of her last courses at Penn State, curriculum design, helped her drive the school’s decision on its curriculum.

“We realized we need to adapt our curriculum more for our students, because they’re mostly Qatar nationals,” she said. “When you have a math example of Sally boarding the train at 7 a.m., and it’s a five-hour ride, what time does she arrive in Edinburgh – the students have no point of reference for a train ride to Edinburgh. So why can’t I use a flight on Qatar Airways from Doha to London?”

“I was really able to use the theories and methods of that course step by step as a framework,” she said.

Abduljawad plans to pursue a doctorate degree in education and work as a lecturer or professional development trainer.

For more information about the master’s degree in education leadership, visit the World Campus website.

By Mike Dawson, Penn State World Campus (July 2015)