The mission of J.A. Maxwell Elementary School is "to make the better best." Principal Mychele Swain has set this example for her students by making personal educational improvements. Ms. Swain recently received her fourth degree, a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration.
Previously, Dr. Swain was the first National Board Certified Teacher in McDuffie County. She had her Bachelor of Science Degree and Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia Southern. She also had a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Augusta State University.
In the fall of 2003, Dr. Swain began her dissertation on "The Georgia School Superintendency: An Exploration of the Profession" at Georgia Southern University. She defended this year on April 4, and her graduation ceremony will be May 6.
"It's interesting that she defended her dissertation on the 10th anniversary of me defending mine, on April 4, 1996," said Dr. Mark Petersen, the Superintendent of McDuffie County Schools. "I have a copy of (her dissertation) in my office, and I'm in the process of going through it. Certainly since I've been through the doctoral process, I understand the amount of dedication and self-discipline and work to accomplish this. I'm proud of her and knew it would take place very shortly."
Dr. Petersen was included in Georgia's 180 school superintendents that Dr. Swain surveyed for her thesis. Her survey contained 33 questions, including likert scale items, ranked items, and open-ended questions.
Dr. Swain said she addressed superintendent perceptions regarding their relations with school board members, challenges they faced and their personal level of satisfaction with their own careers.
"The entire project was challenging, but required me to extend my professional development and knowledge a step further. I would have been unable to successfully complete this project without the support of my Maxwell Elementary Faculty and Staff," Dr. Swain said.
The findings from Dr. Swain's study provided data that was not available for the state of Georgia regarding the superintendency. She said superintendents responded positively regarding their relations with board members, identified finances and state/federal mandates as their greatest stress factors, yet they indicated satisfaction with their careers.
Dr. Swain credits her success to her Maxwell Elementary family, where she has been principal since March 2004.
"Included on my thesis dedication page is the following: To the faculty and staff of Maxwell Elementary, thank you for always challenging me and establishing high expectations. All of you have touched my life in ways that you will never know. Thank you for being my family away from home," she said.