JUNE 20, 2014

Student Profile: David Khatib

Student Profile: David Khatib

David Khatib is an award-winning educator with over two decades of experience under his belt. More than that, he’s one of CityU’s first doctoral graduates! He’ll be walking across the stage at CityU’s 39th Annual Commencement on June 21.

David’s currently a Division Principal at Red Deer Catholic School in Alberta, Canada, but set some time aside to discuss the incredible amount of work he’s put in to earn his doctoral degree from CityU.

City University of Seattle (CU): Tell us a little bit more about yourself! What program are you enrolled in at CityU? What brought you here?

David Khatib (DK): I’ve been an educator for over 25 years, and I’m happy to say that I’ve taught at just about every grade level from Kindergarten to post-graduate. I have been a teacher, counselor, principal, and now I’m part of my school district’s senior administration team.

I received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, a B.Ed. at University of Alberta, and an M.Ed. from San Diego State University. In 2003 I received the Principal of the Year Award for Alberta and was named as one of the top principals in Canada. In 2012, I was nominated and received the Alberta Education Teacher Excellence Award. In 2013 I was awarded the John Armenia Leadership Scholarship, which is given to educational leaders who are seeking to develop their skills through post-secondary programming.

CU: What’s your experience at CityU been like so far – what’s good, what’s great, what might you have done differently if you could go back and start over?

David KhatibDK: My experience with the Ed.D. program was very good. As it should be, this was the most challenging academic endeavor I have ever entered into. In the first two years of the program, almost all of my free time was spent on the Ed.D. courses. Thankfully I had the support of an amazing wife (Michelle) and two adult daughters (Kirsten and Haley). During times when I wanted to throw in the towel my family focused me on my final goal by giving me love, hope, faith and plenty of emotional support.

The core courses of the Ed.D. set the stage for the next phase of the program: writing the dissertation. Looking back, the best aspect of the program was that no course or assignment was wasted. In that, I mean that all academic actions in the program lead to building a focus on a concentrated area of research. For me, and others I’ve talked to, this was of great value. As a full time working professional, I didn’t have the time to engage in irrelevant activities. I can say with all honesty that by the time I reached my third year, I had developed a focus and a clear path to writing my dissertation. Last, but by means no means least, is the great – actually outstanding – support I received from Dr. Margaret Chow, my Dissertation Chair. Her calm demeanor and ever-present reassurance enabled me to finish the program. I can never repay her for the amount of emotional security that she has given me during this process. Without a doubt, she is an academic life-saver in every sense of the word.

CU: What led you to enroll at CityU?

DK: Getting my Ed.D. has been a long-term goal of mine and I knew that if I wanted to advance my career I would need to get this credential. The program was right for all kinds of reasons. It was a blended learning environment, offering online courses and face-to-face summer residencies. This delivery method was exactly what I needed. There are few blended Ed.D. courses available to educators and this learning platform was conducive my learning needs. From my first summer residency I knew I had made the right choice in programming for myself.

CU: Was getting your degree something that you felt you needed to do, and is it something that will play largely in your future plans?

DK: The Ed.D. started out as a personal journey, but ultimately it has had a bigger effect on my career. Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” has always resonated with me. So often we find ourselves waiting for change to occur, but really the change needs to start within us. We can’t expect an organization to change if we aren’t willing to change personally. This process has changed me. Too often, as educators, we have mistakenly embraced the next big thing in a hope that it will change the system.

CU: What are your plans now that you’re graduating?

DK: I can tell you that I will NOT be reading any research articles and/or books for a while (grin). I plan to continue working with my school district in the area of adolescent literacy, which was the focus of my research. I have been asked to speak on this topic by a number of surrounding school districts and I have been invited to guest lecture on the subject at a local college where they offer a B. Ed in Middle Years programming. Next year several other provincial school authorities have asked me to come and speak to their middle and high school teachers about literacy. I will also be putting in an application to speak at the International Reading Association on the topic of adolescent and subject specific literacy.

CU: Did CityU play a large part in helping you decide the next stage of your life?

DK: I’m not sure if you can ever point to one single event and say how it set the stage for the next phase in your career. The work I have done in my Ed.D. definitely has helped develop my professional profile, and City U played a role in that. But like many things in life, it’s the collection of events that determine how your career moves and influences itself. Perhaps the biggest influence in bring my career to the “next stage” was the topic I selected for my dissertation. I can’t stress enough the need for Ed.D. candidates to choose a research area that matters in the bigger scheme of things. By that I mean it’s helpful to forecast what is going to be important to your profession, your district and to yourself in the long run. Sometimes research areas become so myopic that they have no relevance to anyone other than the person writing the dissertation. So, in part CityU did play a role in my professional career path, but it was not the only factor.

CU: Any advice for future graduates who might be traveling the same path you are?

DK: My only advice would be to make sure what you are pursuing your path for all the right reason. The attrition rate in Ed.D. programs is high, mainly because people get into it and don’t realize that it’s an amazing amount of work that is taxing intellectually, emotionally and physically. 15 years ago, when I starting out as a school administrator, I would not have been able to be successful in this course because I had few professional leadership experiences to draw on. 10 years ago, when my girls were young and I coached most of their sports, I wouldn’t have been able to do this due to time. Five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do this because I was already teaching a post-secondary program and it would have been able juggle all of the commitments. However, three years ago the timing was right and I had a clear research gap area and I had the recourses at my disposal to engage in a practical research design. While some may say there never is a best time, I can say there are definitely better times than others.


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