Hayden Lyons, M.S. ’08 is an education consultant and a doctoral candidate and research assistant at UPENN

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

Education Consultant and a doctoral candidate and research assistant at UPENN

Favorite Professor:  Dr. Devin Thornburg

Advice for current students: “Take advantage of everything that Adelphi has to offer, including the supportive faculty who are invested in your success.”      

                 Starting from humble beginnings growing up on a dairy farm in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago with his parents and eleven siblings, Hayden Lyons, M.S. ’08, has studied and worked in his native country and all across the United States with the commonality being his passion for education. His dedication and zeal for teaching and improving the field of education have provided him with many educational and professional opportunities, which allowed for the trajectory that would eventually lead him to earn a certificate and master’s degree from Adelphi University.

The current University of Pennsylvania doctoral student began his teaching career back in Trinidad and Tobago after attending Valsayn Teachers’ College. He taught grades k-6 for thirteen years, serving as a classroom teacher, a technology coordinator, and a school district curriculum officer for elementary science.

He then made the decision to immigrate to the United States to earn his first master’s degree in Educational Communication and Technology at New York University. “My plan at the time was to pursue a career in instructional design,” Lyons said, reflecting on his choice. Upon graduating in 2005, he secured a position as an administrator overseeing math, science, and technology at the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy Middle School. He would also go on to be the founding principal of Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy High School in 2008.

It was when he first started the administrator position at Harlem Children’s Zone that Lyons’ path first crossed with Adelphi. “I initially choose Adelphi to pursue coursework in special education for New York State teacher certification,” he explained. “Adelphi’s program was recommended to me by a colleague at Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Manhattan location was very convenient for me.”

After a positive experience in Adelphi’s certificate program, Lyons then made the decision to further his education by enrolling in the University’s master’s degree in educational leadership program, stating that once again “the convenient location,” as well as the “competitive pricing” swayed him towards Adelphi.

“Adelphi provided me with the preparation I needed to become a school leader,” Lyons said in reference to both his experience in the certificate and master’s program. “After I graduated and became a principal, the support continued. Dr. Devin Thornburg assigned Professor Jose Izquierdo to mentor and support me in my new role.”

Lyons mentioned that while at Adelphi, he particularly enjoyed courses relating to educational ethics, finance, and policy. Some of his fondest moments at Adelphi were spent “interacting with cohort peers and professors.”

He singled out Thornburg for having the most significant impact on him and as someone who served as a mentor back when he was in the program but also post-graduation. “He has always been invested in my success, dispensed great guidance, and provided me the opportunity to teach a science methods course in the Early Childhood Program at Adelphi,” Lyons explained.

There’s no doubt that Lyons is an extremely driven and motivated person, and his experience at Adelphi only helped to deepen his passion to pursue degrees in education and make an impact through his professional endeavors. Acknowledging how much Adelphi has assisted him in his educational and professional careers, Lyons spoke about how he’s attempted to pay it forward and help provide opportunities for his former classmates, “When I became a principal, I employed a fellow student from the Educational Leadership program as a biology teacher and we’re still in contact today. Another fellow student I completed my special needs courses with did her practicum at my school.”

The same year as his graduation from his master’s program, Lyons decided to leave his position at Harlem Children’s Zone. “I took a position as a senior education consultant with Cambridge Education, an international education consulting firm,” he recalled. “I took that appointment because it allowed me to have a greater positive impact on the lives on more children.”

His position at Cambridge Education required him to travel across the United States to provide executive coaching for principals and professional development for teachers, conduct school quality reviews, train district staff on teacher evaluation systems, and support other school improvement initiatives. Although not serving in that exact role as of today, Lyons continues to work with Cambridge Education as an independent education consultant.

Lyons said one of the most valuable components of his educational and professional career has been all of the traveling he’s been able to do and information he’s been able to gather, which contributes to his motivation to make a difference.

“I’ve been able to see the gamut of educational experiences that children across the United States are exposed to. I’ve worked in schools from the west coast to the east coast, in the south and in the north and many placed in between. I’ve worked in probably 20 states, in rural communities, communities of little means, and communities with affluence. I have worked in schools where teachers and all adults are intensely invested in their charges, and in schools where adults regard what they do as just a job they do for which they collect a salary. My travels, however, have afforded me opportunities to support school leaders, train teachers, and support school-wide initiatives that redound to the benefit of the students these schools serve.”

Since graduating from the University, his educational pursuits have landed him at the University of Pennsylvania where he is in the dissertation phase of his doctoral studies in the Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education program.

“I am researching the partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and an External Turnaround Partner to support the turnaround of four of the district’s high schools,” Lyons said of the impactful work he is doing. “I am particularly interested in how the two parties co-construct the relational dynamics of partnership, including the articulation of expectations, the development of a system of communication, and a mechanism for managing the partnership to ensure that it produces desired outcomes for the schools.”

Lyons’ passion for education can also be linked to the perspective he has as a father as well as a teacher. He and his wife, Alleson, have a son and a daughter who attend Drexel University and Pennsylvania State University respectively.

“Take advantage of everything that Adelphi has to offer, including the supportive faculty who are invested in your success,” is what Lyons would tell any prospective, incoming, or current Adelphi student. The continued encouragement and guidance by professors who are masters in their field can make all the difference and lead to incredible success.

Published September 2017

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