Alderson Broaddus University graduates earn Master of Education degrees

Four members of the Class of 2020 received their Master of Education in teacher leader degrees during Alderson Broaddus University’s Graduate Commencement ceremony on August 21.

The teacher leader master’s class includes Brianna Danielle Burger from Grand Prairie, Texas; Leah Christine Casarano Fraley from Hancock, Tenn.; Mariah Tess Murphy from Belington, W.Va.; and Candice Marie Phipps from Clarksburg, W.Va. AB’s teacher leader program is designed to assist teachers in becoming leaders in their schools, provide a strong understanding of research-based practices, and guide authentic, hands-on research within their classroom and school.

When Alderson Broaddus moved to University status in 2013, an expanded master’s degree offering was part of the strategic plan. As part of the plan, AB’s teacher leader program began in 2016 as an entirely online program designed to prepare licensed pre-K through 12th grade teacher educators to take on new teacher leadership roles in the classroom, school, and district.

“In my experience, offering students the opportunity to learn from both full-time professors as well as highly-skilled professionals in the field is a hallmark of an excellent program of this type,” said Dr. Erin Brumbaugh, dean of the College of Education. “Teachers often define their careers by their ability to serve others and make a difference in their students’ lives. We want to ensure that our students graduate with a renewed assurance.”

Throughout her time at Alderson Broaddus, Mariah Murphy said she developed into more of an educator than she ever thought possible. “Thinking back to the beginning of this graduate program, I was nervous to start my career as a teacher because I questioned my abilities. Because of the experiences I was afforded at AB, I felt compelled to engage in leadership opportunities within my school.”

New skills and knowledge have led to increased confidence among teachers and a stronger commitment to teaching. Teacher leaders assume a wide range of roles to support the school and student success; they build the entire school’s capacity to improve.

“Before completing this program, I understood how to create engaging lessons for my students,” explained Leah Casarano Fraley. “However, this program has equipped me with an understanding of how to communicate my knowledge and share helpful information with my colleagues and my students. We can all grow together.”

Created with working professionals in mind, the teacher leader master’s program is built on three conceptual pillars—leadership, curriculum and instruction, and research. “My greatest area of professional growth has been in leadership,” explained Candice Phipps. “The coursework focused on my responsibility as a leader to better improve teaching and learning. I look forward to many years as a teacher leader.”

Because teachers can lead in various ways, many teachers can serve as leaders among their peers. The variety of roles ensures that teachers can find ways to lead that fit their talents and interests. Regardless of the roles they assume, teacher leaders shape their schools’ culture, improve learning, and influence best practices among their peers.

“I have not only shown that I can create professional development practices but that I also have the ability to create an environment and culture that promotes them,” said Brianna Burger. “Here at AB, I was able to find my voice as an educator.”

For more information about Alderson Broaddus University’s teacher leader master’s program, contact the AB Office of Admissions at or 304.457.6315.

About Alderson Broaddus University

Alderson Broaddus University is an independent institution of higher learning, committed to serving the region as an academic, cultural, and religious resource, with programs based on a liberal arts foundation.

The mission of AB is to provide students with the highest quality education, striving to prepare students to succeed in their chosen disciplines and to fulfill their roles in a diverse society as well-rounded and responsible citizens.

Since its founding in 1871, AB has been a leader and innovator in higher education, with accolades in the health and natural sciences. Alderson Broaddus University stands out as one of the most innovative health education providers in Appalachia, pioneering the nation’s first baccalaureate physician assistant program of its kind in 1968, a post-baccalaureate physician assistant master’s degree program in 1993, and West Virginia’s first baccalaureate nursing program in 1945.

AB is located on a historic hilltop in Barbour County in Philippi, West Virginia. The University is rooted in historic and continuing relationships with the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. and the West Virginia Baptist Convention.

For more information about AB, visit


Photo captions: Mariah Murphy, Leah Casarano Fraley, and Candice Phipps pose for a photo with President Dr. Barry during Alderson Broaddus University’s Graduate Commencement Ceremony.