FULTON, MO (12/17/2012)(readMedia)– Julie Dill and Amy James made history Dec. 14 when they become Dr. Julie Dill and Dr. Amy James. They were the first persons to receive doctorate degrees from William Woods University.
They also joined an elite number. Only 1.3 percent of the U.S. population holds either Ph.D.s or Ed.D.s.
Dill is superintendent of Johnson County R-VII School District in Crest Ridge, and James is principal of Southern Boone Elementary School in Ashland. They both started working toward their doctorates in educational leadership in August 2010.
It was a leap of faith on the part of the educators who believed so strongly that William Woods would be accredited that they were willing to start classes even before the approval came.
“I chose WWU because it really made sense,” Dill said. “I am an adjunct faculty member and have been involved with WWU for the past five years and really had a sense of the successes their programs. The cohort model is a great idea and provides an added network of professionals you can reach out to.”
She added, “I was impressed with the quality education that William Woods University offers for working professionals. The doctoral program has afforded me a wonderful opportunity to grow professionally and personally. They really do provide a solid program for today’s educators.”
William Woods University has been offering master’s degree programs since 1993 and added an education specialist program in 2003.
As Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, likes to point out, William Woods serves the largest population of graduate students earning principal and superintendent certification in Missouri, and graduates hold more than 500 school administrative positions within the state.
“This speaks about the long-standing quality of our academic programs, particularly the graduate programs for educators,” Barnett says.
William Woods promotes its programs as being flexible and compatible with work and family life. James is a good example the program works.
“I have a family of four girls and my husband; my girls are 15, 12, 10 and 7,” James said. “This program worked great for the non-traditional student. Class once a week and homework or writing my dissertation on the weekends. You do have to really want the Ed,D, to make it through the program. You must have self discipline and personal drive.”
Dill and her husband of 28 years have two daughters and a 20-year-old son. They also have three granddaughters and one grandson, all under the age of 5, and are eagerly awaiting a second grandson in December.
“The William Woods program was a good fit,” Dill said. “My family and I knew that for two years, every Thursday night, I had college. As I started working on my dissertation this summer, my family really supported me with time to read, write and develop my research.”
Dill received backing from her school district, as well. After starting her doctoral degree, she left her position as director of student services in Sedalia to become superintendent at Johnson County R-VII – Crest Ridge School District, near Warrensburg.
“The board of education was very supportive and understanding. (They knew) my Thursday nights were dedicated to my degree.”
Prior to pursuing her doctorate from William Woods, Dill received three degrees from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan.-a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in special education and an educational specialist degree in educational leadership.
Dill has taught K-6 in regular education, 7-12 special education and 7-12 at risk education (both as a teacher and a program director). She has served as elementary principal, assistant high school principal, director of student services (a district-level position) and now the superintendent of schools.
Unlike Dill, James earned both her Master of Education and Education Specialist degrees from William Woods. She completed her B.S. in education at the University of Central Missouri.
She has taught seventh grade English and reading at both Lewis and Clark in Jefferson City and Rolla Middle School. She was the principal at North Callaway R-I for a PreK-8th grade building, and an assistant principal at Gratz Brown Elementary School in Moberly before becoming principal at Southern Boone Elementary.
James is honored to be one of the first to graduate with a doctorate.
“I absolutely love WWU and am proud to say that I am one of the first to receive the doctorate from here. WWU has been great through all of my graduate programs, and I made it a goal of mine to graduate in December of 2012.”
On the other hand, Dill ” … never really thought about it until the night I defended my dissertation. My committee was very excited about me being the first ever, and it was really at that point it hit me how special this was going to be.”
Dill said she was only able to reach her goal with “the terrific family support and the guidance of Dr. Michael Westerfield,” vice president and dean of the WWU Graduate College and her committee chair.
“Dr. Westerfield was a tremendous support throughout this process. I really felt he truly cared about my work. My committee was a great team for me,” she said.
“As I have reflected the past couple of weeks,” Dill said, “I have realized that anyone’s dreams can be achieved through persistent hard work. I am a very goal-oriented person. I give 150 percent to everything I do in life, and this time that effort has really paid off. I am very proud to be one of the first doctoral graduates for William Woods University.”