Commencement Close-Up: Sandra Lebaron
By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist
(Dec. 19, 2008)--The UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) boasts the largest number of doctoral students receiving their degrees in this weekend's Fall 2008 commencement ceremonies, and among the 10 recipients in the college is Sandra Lebaron, a 56-year-old assistant principal in the North East Independent School District.
For Lebaron, earning a doctoral degree in educational leadership was the culmination of a long journey that started in 2002 as she successfully balanced school and career.
Serna Elementary School, where Lebaron is employed, is one of several core knowledge schools in NEISD that teaches a common core of information needed by all citizens in order to survive and prosper.
Lebaron chose to focus her dissertation on teacher efficacy, the degree to which teachers feel they are making an impact on the children they teach. Lebaron's premise was that teachers involved in writing core knowledge creative units with their peers would have greater efficacy than teachers who had not been involved in curriculum development.
"I wanted to look at things that would help establish a strong learning community that we could implement as administrators," said Lebaron. "I wanted to see that if in fact those teachers that wrote core units would have higher efficacy rates than those that didn't."
To conduct her research, Lebaron interviewed 330 teachers in nine schools and asked them 12 questions based on student engagement, student instruction and classroom management.
"The research showed that all the teachers that had written core units had higher efficacy rates than those that did not," said Lebaron. "Those people will do a better job at controlling and teaching in their classroom and providing teaching and instruction that students need.
Lebaron's research was in an area that had not been studied before and her adviser, COEHD Professor Bruce Barnett, was impressed with her dedication.
"Because the educational accountability movement requires substantial data collection and analysis, Sandy has a much better understanding now of how to collect useful information on relevant topics for individual schools and entire school systems," said Barnett. "Sandy will be a wonderful ambassador and advocate for UTSA as she continues her career in education."
Lebaron credits her success to the support of her husband, Richard Lebaron, UTSA professor of biology, and the fellow classmates she turned to whenever roadblocks appeared in her path.
A mother of three and grandmother to four, Lebaron eventually wants to work at an institution of higher learning, but for now, she loves working as a practitioner with the children and parents at Serna Elementary.