Philosophy, Vision, Mission, and Goals


Across the nation, there are calls to reform educational leadership preparation. West Texas A&M University has responded to this call by implementing an innovative doctoral program for rural educational leadership at the district and post-secondary levels. We have rethought how educational leaders are prepared and what rural school leaders need to know.   

We believe that an interdisciplinary approach will best prepare our candidates to flourish as rural school leaders. Often, school leaders walk into the job without an understanding of the external or internal environments in which they are to succeed. An understanding of the sociology of rural communities and the job description gives school leaders tools to understand/cope/work within those environments. Just as important is understanding the internal environment—the brain you live and work with—and also take for granted. Not only will you learn how decisions are made, but you will learn how to slow down your unconscious judgments to put student achievement first. That is not always easy. 

These "environment" courses, sociology, decision making, and leadership in education, give you knowledge about yourself, your schools, and your communities and skills to make that happen. Adding skills courses like the superintendent certification courses, the emergency management course, instructional strategies, curriculum analysis, ethics, policy in higher education, and the history and future of higher education enables you to start from a higher threshold of competency. 


Our vision is to prepare career professionals at the district and post-secondary levels who can address the specific challenges of rural school districts. We are positioned for the challenge as WTAMU is located within the heart of the Region 16 Education Service Center that serves the top 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle. Region 16 encompasses 26,000 square miles and serves 62 independent school districts and two charter schools. Approximately 75% of the 62 districts are categorized as rural independent school districts with some having as few as 30 total students.  

The Texas Education Agency defines a rural district as either having: (a) an enrollment of between 300 and the median state district enrollment and the past five (5) years of enrollment growth rate less than twenty (20) percent; or (b) an enrollment of less than 300 students.


Region 16 is critically underserved in doctoral leadership programs necessary to prepare adequate numbers of future leaders with expertise to meet the needs of rural districts. The proposed program seeks to supply the Region 16 area and similar areas in the state, nation, and globally with the educational leaders needed to ensure student success in the next century.

Because we at WTAMU are training researchers as well as effective rural school leaders, we have added courses in methodology to help you understand research, evaluate research, conduct research, and write scholarly deliverables. Centering action research within all courses ensures that our candidates can bridge theory to practice.


Our goals are to prepare:

  • Visionary and effective educational leaders grounded in research who are equipped to meet specific challenges in rural educational settings.
  • Leaders who are responsive to the cultural, sociopolitical, economic, and emergency management contexts of rural communities.
  • Leaders who are capable of innovative solutions within areas of limited resources and access conditions.      

Learner Outcomes        

Our candidates will:

  • Critically analyze the cultural, sociopolitical and economic milieu impacting educational organizations within rural and small urban areas.
  • Create settings that support accessible and equitable learning opportunities for all members.
  • Engage in diverse, scholarly activities to evaluate current educational organizations, to inform decision-making and to provide new directions for organizational improvement.
  • Synthesize theory, research, and best practices from national and international perspectives to create innovative solutions to meet specific challenges in rural areas.