Master’s degree helps West Fargo teacher grow in career
Published October 2016
A simple email changed the course of Megan Diemert’s career.
The hard-working teacher, wife and mother of three had contemplated going to graduate school to advance her career. In 2014, an email from her school district presented the right opportunity. North Dakota State University and the West Fargo Public Schools had partnered to offer a new Teacher Leader Academy master’s program.
The program was tailored for the school district’s teachers—one of the ways NDSU has increased the enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students to meet the workforce needs of the region. The program blends research with application to the classroom and provides the school district with a strong method for helping teachers develop their leadership skills.
Diemert had excelled in leadership roles throughout her teaching career, where she started as a summer school teacher and then moved into teaching third and fourth grade. She was an enthusiastic volunteer on school and district committees and started the after-school program at her school.
“I get excited about new initiatives,” she said. “I like to problem-solve and get things going the way they should be.”
The program was a way for Diemert to further her education while continuing to live and teach in West Fargo. “Everything is tailor-made for West Fargo schools,” she said. “I knew I wanted to stay in the district and find something that fit around my busy schedule.”
She enrolled in the five-semester master’s program with 13 other teachers from her school district. Diemert made deeper connections with her peers and further developed her strengths in leadership and problem solving.
“Megan consistently exhibited a thoughtful approach to the role of an educational leader,” said Ann Clapper, NDSU’s program coordinator. “She has the ability to apply knowledge to real life settings that school leaders are faced with on a daily basis.”
The teachers and school district have noticed the benefits. Clapper said the master’s students enjoyed the networking opportunities and reported improved communication skills and relationships with colleagues, students and parents.
“The impact of the academy can be seen across the district on building-level leadership teams, grade-level professional learning communities and on curriculum committees,” said Beth Slette, assistant superintendent of West Fargo Public Schools.
Diemert prioritizes what matters most to her. Her family comes first. Diemert’s husband and close family helped while she attended classes. Her principal also was very supportive.
She graduated with her master’s degree in December 2015, as part of the program’s inaugural class. She taught third grade, ran the after-school program in her building and maintained a balanced home life as she finished the coursework.
“You don’t have to sacrifice everything,” said Diemert. “You can still be there for your family.”
New career path
The program also helped Diemert realize she is interested in the administrative side of education.
Her experiences in the school district, along with the completion of the master’s program that was so easily integrated within the district, helped lead to a new career path. She now is the dean of students at Clayton A. Lodoen Kindergarten Center.
“We know Megan can make an immediate impact,” said Ethan Ehlert, principal at Lodoen. He said the new knowledge she gained through her coursework is relevant to the district and her experiences make her an asset to the school.
Diemert greets kindergartners in the morning and ensures they are ready to learn. She works with student behavior and academics, facilitates faculty meetings and partners with teachers who are part of leadership teams.
“There are so many different avenues to go,” said Diemert. “Whatever my district needs from me, I’m happy to help wherever I can, keeping in mind the best opportunity for me and my family.”