As Jacob George receives his second Master’s from Antioch University Midwest, he reflects on a time when he couldn’t have imagined ever being in this position.
He struggled with anxiety and depression and made a series of bad choices when pursuing his undergraduate degree, squeaking by with his bachelor’s in English.
He wasn’t proud of his accomplishment; instead, he was embarrassed that instead of using all the opportunity and advantage he had to open doors, he closed them.
Despite his roadblocks, he knew he wanted to work in education and if he was going to make progress he needed to attend graduate school.
That brought him to Antioch, the one institution he said found him capable and worthy enough of a seat in its program.
His experience pursuing his first Master’s in Education at Antioch he said made it possible for him to overcome his past mistakes and re-establish his confidence, thanks to his professors nurturing his ability and most importantly, he added, valuing him.
After receiving his degree in 2009, George has been an educator specializing in working with children who have special needs for the past 10 years.
When it came time for him to earn his administrative license, his experience had been so supportive it was the first place he went to apply.
He earned his second Master’s at Antioch in Educational Leadership and his principal licensure.
“The support (Antioch faculty) provided me as a student and working professional is exceptional,” said George. “I think while I was challenged and pushed it allowed me to be successful in both areas.”
His success in his leadership course was due largely to the cohort model Antioch employs that connects fellow students in the same program who have the same drive and passion for working in communities that need service.
“It helps us create a network of support for each other – we work together as a team but it’s not competitive,” said George of the core group, which meets consistently twice a week. “We all have the same work and expectations. We talk about how to best position ourselves for jobs, prepare for interviews and advance our careers.”
George and his cohorts all work in the same geographic area but in drastically-different environments, starting with him in special education in a small rural community to another who is a teacher at a large, urban all-boys school.
“Every one of us is bringing some valuable experience and knowledge about our own unique situation we can all build on with each other,” he said. “In education it’s so easy to get tunnel vision in a vacuum. Here we bring in different perspectives. Communicating them opens up so much up for all of us to grow.”
The group plans to continue meeting well after graduation.
“The environment and culture of (Antioch) nurtures and values,” he said. “It’s the top-down approach that’s setting that tone for us.”