Alex Morozov's desire to make a difference motivated her to pursue a career in education.
"I always give the same response about why I wanted to be a teacher, and that's because the power of influence is phenomenal. We as human beings have the power to do positive things for people," she said. "I realized that I could do that through education."
Morozov has just taken the next step in her own education graduating in May 2021 from the Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership online program at Northwest Missouri State University. She completed the program with a 4.0 GPA after two busy years, while working full time as a teacher and part time as a social worker.
Morozov earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education with endorsements in reading and social studies from Upper Iowa University. As an educator with a few years of teaching experience under her belt, she was ready to grow in her career with an MSEd. degree.
"I wanted the opportunity to be a problem-solver and work with teachers, students and the family members of students," she said. "I started to see leadership qualities in myself that I wanted to use to help others."
While Morozov loved going to school as a child, classwork wasn't always easy for her. She had to double down to overcome barriers, taking inspiration from some great teachers who helped her along the way.
"I didn't start off knowing I wanted to be a teacher. I actually started in criminal justice and knew I wanted to help people. And I knew I wanted to work with kids who were in trouble or needed extra guidance and support," she said. "It wasn't until I worked in an afterschool program that I decided to change my major to elementary education."
She has never regretted that decision. Morozov considered multiple programs before selecting Northwest, and the university's glowing reviews from some of her colleagues sealed the deal. The cost was reasonable, and the timing was great.
Morozov was seeking an online program so she could continue her full-time and part-time jobs.
"Northwest's online program allowed me to do my classwork on the weekends, at night, early in the morning, whenever I had time," she said. "I saved so much money and time avoiding a commute, and I never had to take time off from work."
She credits the program's online format with teaching her discipline and time management skills as well as encouraging her to use technology more efficiently. Communicating with professors via email, phone and Zoom gave her practice for the real world in this new era as a teacher and future administrator.
Her parents were very supportive of her return to school, encouraging her to keep her strong motivation and work ethic. Her friends were equally helpful, making sure they were there for her.
"They were frequently checking in on me and giving me the extra support I needed to maintain everything on my plate," Morozov said.
Practicing to Improve
While Morozov's courses were all online, the practicum required in-person hours at her school district.
"The practicum hours prepared us for real-life situations and scenarios and were completed with my superintendent, the secondary building principal, and the elementary building principal," she said. "It was the internship piece of the master's program."
She liked that she could ask candid questions about their positions and see firsthand what their day-to-day work entailed. She also analyzed statistical information from her own school.
"The quality of the professors leading me through this program was impressive, and they shared their expertise through very detailed feedback. They were always open for more questions and ready to provide support," she said. "Their rigorous, but relevant, content prepared me for the future."
The School Law course was her favorite, making her more aware of student and parental rights, while Relational School Leadership inspired her with school advocacy ideas. However, the very first course she took — Multicultural Education for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — had the biggest impact on her.
"That class was very interesting to me after growing up in a small town without much diversity," she said. "The course taught me to be a better teacher and leader because I'm able to think about inclusion and really, truly how to best serve and meet the needs of all students."
She learned how to create a school improvement plan, which helped her be more involved on campus.
"I gained new critical thinking skills and learned how to treat people better," she said. "And that is something I'm really thankful for."
After teaching kindergarten for four years in the Van Buren County Community School District, Morozov is preparing to transition to a new, larger school district and begin teaching first grade. She believes that working for the Mount Pleasant Community School District will allow her to work with new students, faculty and administrators while staying in Iowa.
"When I begin my leadership career, I want to have different levels of experience to allow me to best support the teachers," she said.
Within the next five years, Morozov would like to transition into an associate or assistant principalship role, then eventually land a position as principal of an elementary school.
"I'd like to travel again and see new things," she said. "I enjoy walking and staying active. I like fishing and kayaking, but most importantly, spending time with family and friends."
While she's ready for a break from studying, Morozov said more education is in her future, maybe even a doctorate. In the meantime, she's excited about her first visit to the Northwest campus with her family for commencement.
"The graduation ceremony is kind of a thank-you back to my parents for all they've done for me throughout my years of college," she said.
"Our education system needs more strong and effective leaders who can make a difference for our kids," she said. "One of my favorite quotes as a teacher is, 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.'"
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