Dr. Jim McConnell

“I was impressed by the collaborative and collegial attitude our professors had with us. Being professionals and leaders ourselves, it truly felt always like a team of equals.”

EdD, Vancouver Cohort: 1998-2002 

Thesis Title: The first year of the headship: the lifeworld of beginning leadership

Ten years after graduating from the Educational Leadership Program at SFU, Jim says that enrolling and taking the program was one of his most important decisions and hence his proudest accomplishment. Jim was part of the first SFU EdD cohort, which began in the summer of 1998. At the time he was the Director of the Senior School and Assistant Head of School at Crofton House. In 2000, midpoint through the program, he left that position to start a new school, Stratford Hall and become the first Head of School, a position he still holds today. The school currently has 450 students with permanent facilities on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.

Through this program, Jim learnt a great deal about research, leadership, theoretical frameworks as well as about himself. He appreciates the fact that as a student he was encouraged to pick a research topic that was relevant to his work that would be applicable to future decisions. As a result, Jim was able to use his thesis to inform him as to how to operate and run his school; one factor he attributes to the school’s success. Even today, Jim affirms that the EdD helped him acquire knowledge that continues to influence his decision-making, leadership and approach to practice.

In regards to the most memorable experience in the program, Jim points out that, “I was impressed by the collaborative and collegial attitude our professors had with us. Being professionals and leaders ourselves, it truly felt always like a team of equals.” He feels fortunate to have worked with several outstanding SFU professors, including Robin Barrow, Cheryl Amundsen, and Kieran Egan.

Although it was hard and demanding work, Jim highly recommends the SFU EdD program. “It would have been very easy to give up, due to the demands of juggling a full time administrative position and doctoral study. This required some discipline in order to succeed.” He adds that the ability to write well is probably the greatest pre-requisite for enjoying the process, and also points out that one has to be highly motivated to finish, especially in the later stages of the research phase.