After he lost more than 100 pounds, Edwin Hood became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Just don't ask the Garland, Texas, elementary school principal to stop gaining knowledge. Hood earned the Superintendent Certification Online from the University of Texas at Arlington in December 2016 to add to a higher education history that’s anything but slim. He also has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a doctorate.
“I went through the superintendent certification because I like learning and it’s something to add to my resume. Now, I’ll say, ‘What is next for me? What else am I going to learn about?’ Especially to stay on top of education.
“I’m a lifelong learner,” Hood said. “I am an AVID [Advancement Via Individual Determination] National Trainer. This year, I’m going back to the National Principal Leadership Institute. I’m going to be a coach of principals who attend.”
Hood, who hails from New Jersey, said his ultimate career goal is to become an assistant superintendent of human resources, although he is keeping all of his options open. “I don’t necessarily want to be a superintendent, but I do want to work in central offices,” he said. “My doctorate program was out of state, so I didn’t have superintendent certification as part of the program like they do here in Texas. That’s why I went back to school.”
The Road Less Traveled
After he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Howard University in 1999, Hood spent a few years working in theater, which led to some jobs teaching drama.
“Once I started teaching theater classes, my parents said, ‘Okay, you need benefits now,'” Hood said. “I ended up becoming an alternative certified teacher in New Jersey. With a theater background, I was highly qualified in the area of English, so I became an English teacher in New Jersey.”
That led to Hood changing his plans from going back to school for a Master of Fine Arts to returning for a Master of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision instead.
“I just like teaching,” he said. “It started with theater, and then it turned to me teaching the classics in English classes. Sometimes I miss theater, but I feel like this is my calling. God has a calling for everybody. This was just my calling — I just went a different route.”
Hood taught English Language Arts in Newark, New Jersey, for four-and-a-half years. He then packed and moved to Texas after Garland ISD hired him as a fifth-grade teacher in 2006.
“I was recruited by the school district where I work,” he said. “I like Texas. It’s a good place to live. With so many people moving here now, it’s turning into like New York.”
Hood became an assistant principal the following school year before being promoted to principal in July 2013. Along the way, he was co-editor of the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators’ The Journal and an instructor at Fitness Connection.
Swim, Bike, Run, Learn
Hood became a triathlete after he ran his first half marathon in 2012. He also competed in a half Ironman Triathlon before competing in his first full Ironman in 2015.
“If you hang out with people who are lawyers, you are eventually going to become a lawyer,” he said. “I hung out with a lot of triathletes, so I ended up becoming a triathlete. First, I did a 5K, then the half marathon. I did a couple of those, then a duathlon, which is the run/bike portion. Then, I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll try a triathlon.’ I did a couple of sprints and fell in love with it.”
With his hectic schedule of running a school and bulking up his higher education, Hood said training has become an important part of his routine.
“It’s been a little journey,” he said. “It takes a lot of time, but that has become my stress relief for the day. I know when I go run and train, everything else just gets lost.”
Thus, the online format for the Superintendent Certification worked out perfectly for Hood.
“I did it because my master’s and my doctorate were online,” he said. “I’ve also been an adjunct professor at two different universities, so I understand the online format just works better for me because I’m a full-time professional. I have my deadlines and everything, but I’m able to do everything on my own terms. I don’t have to make sure I leave my house at a certain time to get to work. It was just more convenient.”
Hood said his primary goal when he enrolled at UTA was to take the superintendent certification exam from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), but he also got some new point of view from the program.
“It’s helped me have a different perspective,” he said. “I understand the superintendent’s role more and the central office’s role more. There are some things you’re never going to understand until you actually do the job. It gave me a different picture of education.”
Hood said he passed the superintendent certification exam on the first attempt less than two months after he completed the online program.
“That’s a big deal for the university,” he said. “I have been through so many universities and have so many degrees, I just know how to take tests. I know that made them happy — and that’s important. If people are able to pass, the work they’re doing is actually sticking with the students.”
Lean, Mean Principal Machine
Hood said intestinal fortitude, much like when losing weight, is essential to earning a certification or degree online.
“You have to be a self-motivator, because you’re going to get a lot of readings,” he said. “In Administration of Staff, Personnel & Advanced School Law [EDAD 6371], we had to read over 200 pages a week,” he said. “Time management is very important. You have to be a self-starter. Before you know it, you will be at the end of your program and you’ve missed an assignment.
“You have to stay on top of turning in assignments that are required by the university and that are required by TEA for certification. Even if you miss one of those assignments that are required by TEA, you will not be able to be released for testing. You can’t miss testing.”
Hood said the aforementioned law course was among his favorites.
“It gave me a different perspective,” he said. “I already understood how major landmark cases impacted education, but it took it even further and how they constantly play a role in shaping public education and even shaping other cases that come after that. I just thought that was interesting.”
Now, Hood feels prepared for whatever comes next in his career, whenever it comes along.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “I’m one of those people who applies for positions. I’m applying for a central office position today; I’ve applied for other assistant superintendent positions. If it’s meant to be right then, it will happen. If it’s not, then that’s the plan that will happen. Hopefully, within the next two or three years.”
Whenever it does, his new office will need plenty of wall space for his achievements in education and as a triathlete. There are sure to be plenty more on the way.
Learn more about the UTA Superintendent Certification Online program.
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