Dr. Kim Castaldi, an Oklahoma State University school administration doctoral candidate, has spent more than 20 years in education.
From speech-language pathologist to director of federal programs and state director of special education, Castaldi has had many experiences. Still, she had one more goal to achieve … earning a doctorate.
“I always wanted to get my doctorate,” Castaldi said. “I met Dr. Kathy Curry before applying to the program, and I could tell I would receive professors’ support at OSU. That made a big difference for me.”
Curry, associate professor of school administration, mentored Castaldi throughout her time in the program, including during her dissertation research on social networks’ influence of school principal retention. Interestingly, Castaldi found school culture and support was key in principal retention and success, similar to what she experienced as a doctoral student herself.
“Climate and culture of an organization and how they support their employees were huge factors in principal retention,” Castaldi said. “When someone feels like a good fit for where they are at, it encourages them to stay in their job.”
As a graduate student, Castaldi, in turn, found ample peer support from those in her cohort.
“They’re with you throughout the whole process,” Castaldi said. “It balances the workload so you feel like you can continue to be a good parent or administrator while you take your classes.”
The accessibility of taking classes on the OSU Tulsa campus and via Zoom allowed Castaldi to further her education without sacrificing her career and family time.
“Having the convenience of the OSU-Tulsa campus really was important to me because of the shorter commute,” Castaldi said. “Even when classes were in Oklahoma City and Stillwater, I could feel connected to my classmates even at a distance.”
Castaldi’s hard work and persistence has paid off as she strives to better serve her community as Director of Accountability and Accreditation of Sapulpa Public Schools.
“It definitely helped me do what I do better,” Castaldi said. “I think about things differently and incorporate more research and research-proven methods into my work. It was definitely worth it.”
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