From the Director · Getting to Know Plattsburgh

Educational Leadership in Action

Teacher education has long been an area of excellence at SUNY Plattsburgh, but some may not realize that many of the region’s great school building and district leaders have also come from the college’s post-master’s certificate programs in Educational Leadership.

mike and harry

Dr. Brooks, and Dr. Johnson, Co-Chairs of the Educational Leadership Program

Educational Leadership Program Co-Chairs, Dr. Mike Johnson and Dr. Harry Brooks, have seen interest and demand for these programs grow in recent years.  “Leaders in today’s schools face unique challenges that require specialized knowledge and skills,” Dr. Brooks explains.  “SUNY Plattsburgh’s certificate programs prepare leaders for these challenges, with courses aligned to the Regents Reform Agenda.”

One popular feature of these programs is the flexible hybrid course schedule offered, which caters to working professionals with a mix of online coursework and a limited number of in-class meeting dates.  “Among the themes built into the hybrid coursework are knowledge and skills in Common Core curriculum, APPR, using data to guide decision-making, and understanding and controlling change.  Authentic, project-based learning activities, Cornerstone Projects and an intensive, year long internship help students to build real world experience.  Our graduates are well prepared to lead schools in an age of reform.”

3 certificate programs are offered at SUNY Plattsburgh’s branch campus in Queensbury:

A new main campus cohort in Plattsburgh will begin in the Fall 2016 semester, allowing North Country educators to pursue Teacher Leadership and School Building Leader certificates over the next 2 years, with a convenient hybrid schedule of online coursework and Saturday-only meeting dates.

There are countless success stories from those who have completed the Educational Leadership programs through SUNY Plattsburgh, with many securing employment in school leadership roles during their coursework or immediately upon completion of the program.


Corinne Cotter, May 2016 SBL Graduate

Cory CotterCorrine “Cory” Cotter grew up in Johnstown, New York, where she would later become the Assistant Principal of her alma matter, Johnstown High School.  A St. Lawrence University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Cory decided to pursue her master’s degree in teaching at SUNY Albany.

“I went away to college, and returned to begin my Social Studies teaching career at Johnstown High School in September 2000.  I taught high school Social Studies until June 2015 when I accepted the position of Assistant Principal.  I was initially hired under an internship certificate because my SBL wouldn’t be completed until May 2016.”

A tuition grant opportunity led Cory to initially pursue the Teacher Leadership program, where she then realized that a School Building Leader certificate was within her reach and she decided to continue on.  “I enjoyed the coursework, the professors, and the individuals in my cohort.”

When asked about her greatest learning experience, Cory says the hands-on opportunities and pertinent coursework have been truly helpful, but the faculty members have been the key component to the program:

“One of my favorite things about the courses is listening to all of the stories told by the professors about their administrative experiences.  The faculty in the SBL program are amazing.  They are personable and always a phone call away.  The educational experience that the faculty hold offers many different insights to building leadership.”

Next up for Cory is the School District Leader program, which she starts this summer.  Cory’s suggestions for future students include:

  • Choose the right mentor.  Throughout this year, her mentor, Scott Hale, helped Cory grow to be a confident building leader.
  • Absorb as much information as possible.  It will all be relevant once you become a building leader.
  • It’s all about networking and connections.  You may not know anyone in the classes as you begin the program, but in the end will form lasting friendships that you will rely on for professional advice.
  • You get what you put into the internship!

Cory has been married to her husband Shawn for 13 years, and has two sons, Colin and Brady.  Their family enjoys golfing, boating, watching baseball games, and spending summers at their camp on Sacandaga Lake.  During the winter, Cory coaches her sons’ ski racing team, the Royal Mountain Racing Ski Team.


Nicole Dettenrieder, May 2016 SBL Graduate

Nicole Dettenrieder knew her future would be in education from a young age as a Junior Achievement volunteer.  She pursued an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Fulton Montgomery Community College, then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree at Russell Sage College in Elementary Education, and a master’s degree from SUNY Albany in Literacy.

Nicole Dettenrieder
Nicole, with her husband, Shawn, and son, Matheu

For 13 years, Nicole has been teaching in both rural and urban settings.  She has worked in the Wheelerville Union Free School District in Caroga Lake, NY for the past seven years as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, where many opportunities to hold leadership roles emerged.  Nicole became motivated to further her education and applied to SUNY Plattsburgh’s Educational Leadership program.  “Personally, I knew that I didn’t want to be a teacher for my entire career and that this program would help me find different paths in education.”

Her ambition paid off, as she has recently been appointed a principal position in her district.

One of Nicole’s favorite parts of her experience has been meeting and collaborating with teacher-leaders from other school districts.  “I have made some wonderful new friends through this program.  These relationships have been vital in understanding that teamwork is key for any leader to be successful.  Students in this program have been willing to go above and beyond to work together to meet the demands of the courses.”

When asked about her greatest learning experience thus far, Nicole says:

“As educators we understand that education changes in the blink of an eye. However, leaders have to look at many different avenues and decide what is best for the students. I understand now that when changes occur in education we don’t necessarily have to throw everything we’ve done in the past out to meet the new demands set before us. The key is finding balance to ensure that your program is meeting the needs of all learners while providing the staff and stakeholders with a clear action plan on how the goals will be met.”

Nicole credits her professors for the quality of the program.  “The faculty (Dr. Johnson, Dr. Brooks and Dr. Maziejka) have been exceptional, and have been there every step of the way to provide guidance and reassurance.  They have an immense amount of knowledge and what I have learned from them is invaluable.  They were quick to respond to any questions that I had and have helped me to pursue other career opportunities.”

Nicole’s best advice for future students is to remember that what you take away from the program depends on what you put into it.  “Know that all the work you put in helps you to understand what it takes to be a truly effective leader.”

Nicole lives with her family in Tribes Hill, NY where they enjoy boating, snowmobiling, skiing, baseball and spending time at the beach.


Kristine Dickson, December 2016 SBL Candidate

After 8 years working as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, Kristine Dickson was ready to pursue a new career path.  “I had become very accustomed to working with individuals who were faced with end of life decisions.  I was young and ready for a change, so I decided to return to school to pursue a degree in Childhood/Special Education.”

Kristine DicksonIn 2004, Kristine received her bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Rose, where she also went on to earn her master’s degree in 2006.  She began teaching at Fonda-Fultonville Central School District in 2005 as an elementary special education teacher, where she has worked for 11 years.  Kristine was starting to investigate what her next steps might be in the field of teacher education, when grant funding became available for her to pursue a Teacher Leadership Certificate at SUNY Plattsburgh.  After completing this certificate, she decided to continue into the School Building Leader program, where she is currently finishing up her C.A.S., and ultimately has her sights set on a School District Leader Certificate.  Her ultimate goal is to obtain a district level position as a Director of Pupil Services/ Special Education.

When asked about her favorite part of the program, Kristine says the authentic learning experiences have been invaluable to her, as well as having knowledgeable professors who have shared their personal administrative experiences.  “The faculty is second to none.  Dr. Johnson and Dr. Brooks are fantastic mentors for us.  They have made themselves available to answer our questions, relieve our fears, and help us develop into the best educational leaders that we can be.  I love the face-to-face classes with the professors, however I also enjoy the flexibility that this program affords with the online component as well.  It has made it much easier to juggle the responsibilities of being a wife, mother, and professional.”

One notable experience she recalls was in Dr. Brooks’ class.  “We had to prepare a presentation for a mock school board.  As a person who has never been comfortable speaking in front of crowds, this was a fantastic activity for me to be involved in and truly lessened my fear of public speaking.”

Kristine has also enjoyed building relationships with other students in the program.  “We are all from different school districts, therefore we are able to share ideas and discuss how things are done in our own schools.  I have a feeling that the relationships that have been formed will be lasting ones.”

Kristine’s suggestions for future students:

  • Choose SUNY Plattsburgh!  “For those who are contemplating pursuing a career in educational leadership, I highly suggest they look to SUNY Plattsburgh.  The experience that I have had here and continue to have is fantastic.”
  • Fully utilize the faculty.  “I would encourage anyone who enrolls in the program to tap into the vast expertise that the professors possess.  I have learned so much from them and I am carrying that knowledge over into my own administrative practice.”

In her free time, Kristine likes to spend time outdoors and on the lake with her husband Harvey, two daughters, Claire and Anna, and their extended family.


Interested in learning more about SUNY Plattsburgh’s Educational Leadership programs? Complete the Request Information form to receive an information packet from the Graduate Admissions Office or email graduate@plattsburgh.edu.

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