When high school principal Rogelio Sanchez was in California contemplating a return to higher education, he found what he wanted in the Show-Me State.
"I wanted to get my Adapted Physical Education credential, which I did at Point Loma Nazarene University because I had a student who needed services," he said. "Then, I looked for a program to get my master's degree in physical education that was distance learning.
"There aren't many schools in California that offer that program. If you find something here, it's also expensive. I was filling out paperwork for another school in Idaho when Northwest Missouri State University popped up. The program sounded interesting."
Soon thereafter Sanchez enrolled, then completed the online Master of Science in Education in Health and Physical Education program at Northwest in August 2021.
"I got good vibes when I applied," he said. "It's family-oriented and welcoming. The teachers at Northwest were supportive. I made a point to let them know my different perspective. I see things from the other side as a teacher and an administrator."
Sanchez is principal at Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High School in Los Angeles, where he has worked for eight years. Satisfied with the program, he was able to translate the pedagogy into regular instruction.
First and Goal
Sanchez is from Southgate, California, where his passion for football eventually led him into education.
"I started as a campus security officer," he said. "Then, I started coaching football. I wanted to impact kids, so I wanted to become a PE teacher. The support was the attraction. I worked my way up."
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 2008, Sanchez added a master's degree in educational leadership and administration four years later. Both degrees are from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
"Some of the classes from my Adapted Physical Education credential transferred into the master's program," he said. "I took two courses at a time. At the same time, I used to coach football.
"One of my former students in my district who teaches physical education, Miguel Montes, and I did the Adapted PE and the master's degree program together."
The flexibility of the online format was key for Sanchez. He and his wife, Susannah, have two daughters — Isabella (7) and Daniella (4).
"We were all at home with them distance learning," he said. "At the time, I taught three distance-learning classes and helped my daughter with her work. My wife, who is a teacher, was doing her classes on the other side of the room. It was weird.
"The pandemic shut a lot of things down, but I took advantage. I did the homework in the time given. What I loved about Northwest is, they had someone check in on me every seven weeks. I have never had anyone do that at any other school."
Sanchez benefited from the knowledge he gained in the online MSEd. in Health and Physical Education program curriculum, including REC 45547: Grantsmanship.
"Each course had a specific piece I was able to pull out," he said. "With my experience, I was already doing a lot of it. I was able to build on that.
"We started seeing what's available and applying for grants. It gave us the resources to get things going. It helped in working with budgets and proposals. I can go to a board meeting and back up my facts."
One of the primary reasons that Sanchez could earn his certification and a master's degree was the encouragement of his family.
"When I told my wife, she was very supportive," he said. "She knows it's what I love to do. The price was right. Also, it's cool to do homework and set an example for my kids.
"When we go to Maryville in December for graduation, they can see me walk. I am not just telling them what they should do — I am going to do it."
Sanchez hopes to parlay the master's degree into a teaching position at the collegiate level someday.
"To teach PE at the community college level here, you have to have a master's degree in PE," he said. "With this program, I can have that opportunity."
Because of his great experience in the program, Sanchez also referred the special education coordinator at his school, Kelley Finn, who is now taking classes at Northwest.
"When you talk to anybody at Northwest, you feel like they care about you," Finn said. "The program is going to be there to support you. Ask questions. If they don't have the answer for you, they will find it in a timely manner.
"It's a welcoming environment. The way it's structured with seven-week courses, it's manageable. I haven't been on campus yet, but I have a lot of Northwest Missouri pride," Finn added.
Learn more about Northwest's online MSEd. in Health and Physical Education program.
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