Alumni Society board member adds certificate to two Penn State degrees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Douglas Womelsdorf’s first two degrees from Penn State in 2003 and 2005 opened some doors for him, and when he decided that a gateway to future success would hinge on additional education, he turned to Penn State once again.

Doug Womelsdorf Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Womelsdorf, a K-12 curriculum coordinator in northeastern Pennsylvania who also serves as secretary of the Penn State College of Education Alumni Society Board, recently completed a graduate certificate for principalship through World Campus. 

“Because this is an administrative certificate, it encourages me to develop and refine my skill set as an aspiring school leader. It encourages me to create the space for rich and meaningful conversations with teachers aligning the important work in districts, schools, and classrooms around specific goals and needs, as well as completing teacher evaluations which focus conversations on the use of student data in data informed decision-making models,” Womelsdorf said. 

“Because the way students are assessed and teachers are evaluated has changed over the years, the certificate allows me to work with students and teachers to develop meaningful goals and plans to achieve those goals.”

Womelsdorf said he works with teachers to look at their student and class profiles to determine how they can partner to best support the students.

“Looking at student data, we might notice, in conversation, a particular skill that students are struggling to master,” he said. “We work together and design a plan including professional development opportunities for teachers, to target a specific group of students and try new and innovative things in the classroom to address the skill gap or support their need for enrichment opportunities.” 

Doug Womelsdorf cites his dog, Chance, with credit for helping him through a certificate program. Womelsdorf, board secretary of the College of Education Alumni Society, recently added a graduate certificate for principalship to his two previous Penn State degrees. Credit: SubmittedAll Rights Reserved.

Womelsdorf’s adviser through the World Campus certificate program was Ronald Musoleno, associate professor in education policy studies who, along with his wife, Sandie, also have served on the college’s Alumni Society Board. 

“Ron was a constant beacon of support,” Womelsdorf said. “He was a teacher and school leader in the K-12 world before moving to his roles at the University. He understands the needs of teachers and aspiring school leaders and district leaders in a way that leaves you feeling supported every step of the way.”

Womelsdorf’s bachelor of science degree was in biology with an ecology concentration from the Eberly College of Science, and his master’s was in curriculum and instruction with a science education emphasis from the College of Education.

He student-taught in the Juniata Valley School District in Alexandria, Huntingdon County, and earned the Outstanding Student Teaching Award presented by the College of Education Alumni Society in 2005. Since then, he’s served a number of terms on the Alumni Society Board.

After 14 years in the classroom and curriculum roles, Womelsdorf considered a number of colleges from which to earn certification to qualify for a job as a school principal. “But once a Penn Stater, always a Penn Stater,” he said.

The certificate (18 credits including three one-credit internships) includes coursework in essentials for aspiring school leaders, school law, principles of instructional supervision, technology applications in educational leadership and school improvement. "Because I already have a K-12 position, I was able to see not just how each of these components looked at just one grade level (elementary or secondary) but I got to see how they looked across K-12 which helps build perspective,” Womelsdorf said.

Womelsdorf said he would highly recommend the certificate program through World Campus. “As a student coming from the face-to-face generation, I was easily able to move to the online format because the courses and course content was very organized and easily accessible,” he said. 

“The courses still allowed for interaction with classmates, while still providing me in most classes the chance to complete work when I had time, which was very helpful as a working professional. The investment Penn State made in the online learning world truly provided the opportunity for me to stay connected to my alma mater while completing the work I need to move forward professionally," said Womelsdorf. "When the pandemic hit and the shifts started to occur in K-12 and in higher education, I honestly did not notice many changes in my virtual coursework through World Campus.”

Through his year’s worth of 18 credits, Womelsdorf had support from family, colleagues and friends, he said, and one friend has four legs — his dog, Chance.

“Chance literally stayed by me every time I sat down to do some work online,” he said. “I used to tell everyone he was my proofreader.”

Overall, he said, it’s all about the relationships formed.

“Penn Staters have this incredible way of connecting and staying connected to each other and supporting each other when things are good and when people need something (big and small),” Womelsdorf said. “There is a friendship that exists that’s unique and special whenever you find out someone is a graduate or a friend of the University.”

Doug Womelsdorf Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated July 01, 2020