A Servant Leader’s Journey to the Superintendency: Erin Barisano, Ed.D. '17
As the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orange and the 2018 recipient of UCEA's Excellence in Educational Leadership Award, Erin Barisano, Ed.D. '17, knows first-hand what it takes to be an educational leader. Assuming the position of Superintendent of Schools one year after graduating from the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership for Social Justice, Erin credits the Ed.D. Program with teaching her how to put leadership theory into practice, a tool she uses every day in her support of the Diocese's 41 PK-12 schools.
"The Ed.D. program helped prepare me for this leadership position as I am now able to put leadership theory into practice and effect change on a diocesan-wide scale," Erin shared.
Drawn to LMU's Doctoral Program because of its focus on the Jesuit and Marymount inspired teachings on leadership for social justice, Erin was able to strengthen her natural leadership traits and explore other areas for growth through her coursework, while deepening her own spirituality and commitment to Catholic Social Teaching.
"As a Catholic school leader, I have always identified myself as a servant leader. The Ed.D. program taught me that as a leader, I need to be aware of my own leadership style and be open to surrounding myself with other leaders whose styles complement my own," Erin said.
For Erin, the interactions she shared with her professors and cohort members were the most valuable experiences of the Ed.D. Program. Coming from a background in Catholic school leadership, she wanted to be able to learn from individuals whose viewpoints and leadership journeys were different from her own, and she identifies the small cohort model and individualized faculty support that she received while enrolled in the Ed.D. Program as catalysts for making that possible.
"The cohort model and 1:1 student to faculty chair ratio created an intimate community of learners in which I was able to learn from educational leaders from public schools, charter schools, private independent schools, and higher education," Erin reflected.
Erin's dissertation, Forming and Supporting Lay Catholic Elementary School Principals as Spiritual Leaders, chaired by Doctoral Program Director and Professor Jill Bickett, Ed.D., explored the perceptions held by experienced lay elementary principals of their role as spiritual leader as well as how prepared they felt to serve in this role. After publishing her dissertation, Erin was invited to present during the 2018 AERA annual meeting session entitled "Leadership for Social Justice in Catholic Education: Recent Research."
When asked what advice she has to future Lions, Erin stated, "while completing the research, dissertation, and degree are the end goals, you should appreciate the journey and be open to learning new things about yourself through your experiences and relationship with others. It will make the destination so much more meaningful."