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Celebrating New Graduate Dr. Rob Darling
Written by Grace Jackson, School of Applied Leadership
“It’s Supposed to be the Most Challenging Work You’ve Ever Done, It’s a Doctorate!”
Rob Darling loves a good challenge and loves learning, factors that motivated him to obtain his doctoral degree. Additionally, the fact that CityU allowed him to bundle his doctorate degree with a principal administrative certification, doubly inspired him to reach his goal. None of the difficult moments along the way – from working early in the morning before his job as a Principal to the late nights working on revisions – could interfere with his main objective of being called “Dr. Darling”, which, Rob says, “has a nice ring to it”.
Research, Write, Revise, and Revise Again: A Process
In June, Rob successfully defended his dissertation entitled, An Analysis of Successful Induction Programs for Early Career Teachers in Rural Central Washington State Schools. Rob’s favorite part was of the dissertation process was actually performing the research, which he found very exciting. His greatest enjoyment came from the tasks of collecting and analyzing data to support his thesis. However, revision, along with research, is central to the process, and Rob probably “did over 1,000 revisions in my dissertation from start to finish. That means I heard ‘no’ a lot,” he says.
A Critical Crisis: Dealing with Teacher Shortage and Retention
Of Rob’s dissertation, Principal Faculty Dr. Marge Chow says, “Rob is a pioneer in dealing with a critical crisis: teacher shortage and retention. His dissertation is an excellent contribution to the field of education, and may be duplicated by school administrators in other regions of the state and country.” Rob intends to publish and present his findings to help other principals support teachers in new roles, and he hopes that the knowledge and experience of the dissertation will influence his leadership capacity. His motivation, however, once in the process of writing, was “not wanting to be a statistic, just another All But Dissertation (ABD) student.”
“Gentle Pressure, Applied Relentlessly”
Rob acknowledges that Dr. Christine Katayama provided years of communications and in-person work sessions that paid off. According to Rob, she “remained positive and encouraging over years; she pushed and pulled me throughout the journey and made the unbearable less daunting. Christine is the epitome of gentle pressure, applied relentlessly. And, Drs. Grow, Cory, and Rankin provided timely insight, suggestions, and honest feedback,” Rob says.
Dr. Christine Katayama writes, “Because we are in the midst of a teacher shortage which is expected to escalate, Rob’s findings are timely and will be of great interest to school leaders. He is positioned to be a resource for schools of education as well.”
Don’t Take It Personally: Advice for Doctoral Students
Rob advises other doctoral students to be prepared for responses that encourage the revision process, such as, “not yet,” “not quite,” “this section doesn’t flow well,” and, “How quickly can you get these revisions done and back to me?” There will always be mistakes, misspellings, incorrect grammar. Don’t take it personally,” says Rob. “Just know that you will be told no every time . . . Except for one. And it really feels amazing when you are officially declared: Doctor!”
SAL’s Fourth Graduate
When Rob walked across the stage during CityU’s 2016 graduation ceremony and was handed his diploma, he became the fourth student to graduate from the School of Applied Leadership’s doctoral program. In addition to publishing and presenting his findings, with his hard-earned title as “Dr. Rob” intends not to be on his computer after 9 p.m. or during movie nights.
Congratulations from all of us at CityU, Dr. Rob Darling!
Photo L to R: Dr. Kelly Flores, Dean; Dr. Arron Grow, Dr. Marge Chow, Dr. Rebecca Cory, Dr. Rob Darling, Dr. Christine Katayama, Dr. Pressley Rankin, and Dr. Kurt Kirstein, Provost.