Freedom Middle School principal earns doctorate degree



Dr. Smith poses with a sign in front of his office celebrating his doctoral success.

Bryson Deal, Editor in Chief

On Sept. 1, Mr. Ryan Smith, principal of Freedom Area Middle School, became Dr. Smith after he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation. Dr. Smith earned his doctoral degree in education through Point Park University.

“It was definitely a large time commitment, it was hard with a young family and a lot of other things going on,” Smith said.

Smith’s dissertation was an in-depth research project on A Phenomenological Study: The perceptions of school staff during the implementation of SWPBIS (Schoolwide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) in rural middle schools. Smith got a lot of his information for the dissertation through verbal interviews and researching the topic through various articles. Smith interviewed 12 teachers in two different school districts. After Smith wrote his 94 page dissertation it was reviewed by a panel of three committee members before Smith had to defend it in front of 8-10 University staff members. 

“When you’ve been so involved in something for a year you almost become an expert in what you’re talking about, you become very confident in your topic,” Smith said.  

By becoming a doctor, Smith also earned his superintendent certification. 

“I hope to eventually become a superintendent, it’s been a goal of mine for quite a while,” Smith stated.

In the future, Smith sees his doctorate as a pathway to becoming a professor or even a superintendent. Smith encourages others to pursue their passion for becoming a doctor if they have one, and to start the journey as soon as they can. Becoming a doctor is a huge time commitment but it can really pay off if you want to become a professor, principal, or a superintendent. Even if becoming a doctor is not for you, I’m sure we can all agree that it is a great achievement for our principal. Congratulations Dr. Smith!