Dr. Phil Corkill is a Capella University core faculty member in the School of Education. His focus within the education administration degree program is school leadership and administration.
Q. What do you teach at Capella?
A. I teach coursework related to school law and administration, courses that students need to pursue careers as school principals and superintendents. My work at Capella began in 2001, when I was asked to write some courses in school leadership, and now I’m a core faculty member. I think Capella is an innovative, creative place to be, and it’s a fun place to work. It’s a flexible, fluid learning process, yet it’s also rigorous and demanding.
Q. What is your favorite class to teach?
A. School law. I have a doctorate in educational leadership and was a principal myself. I thought about law school, but I didn’t like law school—yet I did like school law, so I did my PhD in that subject area.
Q. What is your teaching philosophy?
A. Help students grow. These are times in which we need great leadership in schools, and we need to instill not just knowledge, but commitment and ethics. I see great potential with the current students at Capella—they have that commitment and that passion.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. The interaction with Capella students in the course room. I’m a very relational person. I want to get to know the students on a personal basis. I call each of them once or twice every quarter. They appreciate it, and it helps me understand them better.
Dr. Corkill went beyond the duties of an instructor by providing guidance and mentorship to individual students. In the course room, he was active and responsive sharing his vast expertise of both contents. Further, he went above and beyond to check in by calling each student in the class. This was the first time I experienced phone interaction with a professor and it made the online learning experience a little more personal. His dedication to the students and the curriculum is unmatched! Vanessa M.
Q. What industry trends are you seeing that will affect professionals in the next few years?
A. The proliferation of state and federal regulations in school districts. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t really work—school districts vary so greatly based on demographics, location, etc. I think this belongs at the district level. Having good leadership in the district is critical. At Capella, we provide high quality administrators.
Q. What is the single biggest challenge facing your field right now?
A. Getting parents and students engaged, especially at the secondary level. We really need energetic, authentic people who understand that the core of education should be helping students learn. How do we motivate students who are inundated with media? How do we keep them enrolled? Frightening numbers of secondary students are dropping out of school each month.
Q. How do you keep your industry skills and knowledge up to date?
A. Through reading and networking with friends who are still working in the field.
Q. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A. There are actually two pieces of advice that qualify as the best. The first is: Hire good people, evaluate people, and evaluate programs. Keep studying what’s working and what doesn’t, then work to fix what doesn’t. If you can master these, you’ll be a great administrator. Second: No surprises. A quality administrator builds trusting relationships with both the school staff and the school board, so communication is open and bad situations don’t appear out of nowhere.
Q. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
A. Golf, tennis, swim, read. Outdoor things. Travel.
Q. Coffee, tea, or soda?
A. None of those. I prefer lemonade.