Casey Burkard

MA in Educational Studies: Educational Leadership and Policy with K-12 Building-Level Administrator Certification (LPAC)

Casey  Burkard, School of Education

Student Status: Current student, full time

Geographic Region of Origin: I am originally from California but have lived in Michigan for five years

Previous Education: 

California State University, Long Beach - majored in International Studies 

Prior to Joining the Program

Before coming to the University of Michigan I spent four years working in education in Detroit. I was a 2012 Teach for America corps member and taught 10th-12th grade English language arts for three years. After teaching I spent a year as an instructional coach, working with high school teachers across disciplines.

Why the Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP) Program? 

The Educational Leadership and Policy program was incredibly well-aligned with my ultimate career goals of building principal before eventually going into policy later in my career. In addition, staff were very gracious and friendly during the application and admissions process, which really made me want to go to school here and learn from their experiences.

Accepting my offer was a very easy decision. When I initially applied, I lacked focus and clarity in my primary interests, but through my time here, I have truly discovered the areas within education I am most passionate about. Specifically, I have conducted research on school disciplinary frameworks and student identity formation in schools; I hope to use this knowledge to create school environments that are safe, inclusive, and culturally responsive. 


I currently intern at Dexter High School right outside of Ann Arbor. I wish I could explain how much I have learned from my mentor, who has been in education for 38 years and who I consider to be a true visionary leader. My observations have taught me valuable leadership skills, and I have learned so much about creating and cultivating trust among students, staff, and administration. My main focus at present is an action research project on ranking students in schools, which I hope to use in advocating against the practice.

Individualized Course of Study

Term 1:

Term 2:

I would advise students to wait until second term before taking cognates, i.e. courses outside the program (typically outside the School of Education). At that point, you will have a much better grasp of where your studies are leading you.

In my case, after first term I knew I wanted to focus my work on school disciplinary and curricular frameworks that are empowering for students. To this end, I chose two cognates in the School of Social Work. I chose a course on juvenile justice to gain a better theoretical understanding of the school-to-prison pipeline and best practices for youth rehabilitation after young people exit the juvenile justice system. I also chose a course on youth empowerment in order to learn strategies and best practices for empowering students, specifically those who are at highest risk of being disempowered in schools.  

Highlights of the Michigan Experience

I can’t say enough how much I have enjoyed my time at the University of Michigan.

An academic highlight was the research I conducted for assignments at the end of my first semester. I really dove into school discipline, specifically the zero-tolerance philosophy, and examined its impact on safety and identity formation for students. Not only was I very proud of the work I produced, but I also gained a much better understanding of a topic I am very passionate about.

A social highlight was the classroom culture of Dr. Percy Bates’ course Foundational Perspectives on Education Reform. His class was really engaging and thought-provoking, and I think we all grew a lot closer as a cohort in our time with him 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The School of Education’s deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion permeates curriculum and pedagogy. I hope to use what I have learned in my classes to create a school environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion are built into the systems and procedures of the school framework. Too often we see schools where diversity, equity, and inclusion are touted as pillars yet are not reflected in the school policies that govern the experience for students.

This program is developing my capacity to turn theoretical ideas into practice. Furthermore, our classes encourage critical examination of our own identities within this work and the positionality we have in our experiences. It has challenged my own understanding of my role in this field and my positionality as a white woman working with students of color.

I highly recommend Dr. Camille Wilson’s course Education and Cultural Studies, which pushes you outside your comfort zone in examining student identity formation alongside your own.

Casey invites prospective students to contact her with any questions about her experiences the program, her research, and/or student life.  

Burkard’s program of study:
Educational Leadership and Policy