Mary Larson EdS Graduate

Mary Larson is the school superintendent in Gooding, Idaho, a dream job that combines many of her career goals, and one she was able to attain after graduating with an Education Specialist (EdS) degree from Capella University in 2009.

As she prepares for this exciting new adventure, she takes time to reflect on her career journey and the role Capella played.

Q. What was your background prior to beginning your degree program at Capella?

A. I started with a dual major of elementary education and speech pathology and began working in an elementary school as a long-term sub and—of all things—a music teacher. After a move to North Dakota and change of jobs, I realized I loved special ed and got my master’s in it, which led to work in special ed and speech pathology as a consultant for a school for the deaf and blind.

Q. What inspired you to consider an EdS?

A. I realized I wanted to move up. I’d worked in district leadership roles and knew I’d like to pursue a superintendent role. While researching options, it seemed to me that the administrative certification of the EdS would complement the master’s I already had. So, while working full-time, I completed my program with Capella.

I was working dual roles in a very small school in North Dakota when this opportunity in Idaho came along. I was ready for something bigger, and I’m so excited to be here. [NOTE: Larson was hired by unanimous vote of the Gooding School Board.] I think the combination of my degrees and hands-on experience made me a good choice.

Q. Why did you choose Capella for your EdS?

A. I wanted to make a career move and knew I needed additional training, but I also wanted to experience what kids experience in an online educational world. Online learning is going to be an increasing part of education’s future, and I can better influence it—and the students—if I understand what it’s like.

Plus, Capella is an accredited university, which is even better.

Q. What was your experience at Capella like?

A. It was far more rigorous than the face-to-face education experiences I’ve had, and I have both a bachelor’s and a master’s from in-person schools. I found the coursework at Capella had a different level of critical thinking involved, something that was lacking in my face-to-face degrees.

There’s a much broader view of the world of education at Capella. There was a wide spectrum of students from all over the world, many of whom were currently working in education, so we received an amazing opportunity to learn how other education systems handle the work.

I realized that we tend to box ourselves in to traditional education patterns. Capella was a very positive, rigorous program, even though it’s not traditional. I’ve kept in touch with people from my classes. They’re also doing well and have benefited from attending Capella.

Q. What advice would you have for other students approaching an online education?

A. You have to be willing to pay your dues, knowing you have a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a big commitment, and you have to be willing to let some things go while you’re working on it, like social outings. But if you keep focused on the final goal, it helps. And I absolutely recommend Capella.


Learn more about Capella’s Education Specialist program.