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Student Spotlight April 2011

Denise Allen

“Denise has shown a steadfast commitment to doctoral work while having a more than full-time job as a middle school principal in Bullitt County. She completed 6-12 hours of doctoral work each semester while leading her school to increased test scores and being named a National Middle School to Watch.  She has been a model of perseverance, hard work, and great attitude to her cohort members.”

Dr. Molly Sullivan, EdD Coordinator


April’s Student Spotlight, Denise Allen, received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts at the University of Kentucky. She was then certified as a Level I and II Principal, as a Director of Pupil Personnel, as an Instructional Supervisor, and as a Superintendent. Denise is graduating in May with her doctorate in Educational Leadership.


Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):

The focus of my research is the transition from middle school to high school. I chose this research due to the work I have been involved in for 22 years as a teacher and principal in middle schools and high schools.

Awards, honors, publications:

I was chosen as a member of Cambridge Who’s Who in 2006-2007 and was recognized by Kentucky House of Representatives for School Leadership in 2010.

Long term goals/ aspirations:

I hope to possibly become a school superintendent and work part time as an instructor at the collegiate level teaching educational research.

How would you describe your area of study/ specific research to your grandmother?

My research focuses on strategies for eighth grade students that will help them be more successful when they are in ninth grade.

How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?

I hope this degree will help practitioner’s see the possibility of furthering their education. I would like to be perceived as a role model for higher education. I would like people to see the passion I have for research and higher education.

What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?

I have been the principal at Mount Washington Middle School in Bullitt County for six years now. In 2010, our school was awarded a National School to Watch recognition. There are only 14 middle schools in the state of KY with this designation. In June of 2010, I went with several of my staff members to Washington, D.C. to visit our state representative, Brett Guthrie, to discuss educational issues in the state of Kentucky. During this same trip we presented at the National School to Watch Conference.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

The greatest challenge has been trying to complete a doctorate when you have a full time job. A middle school principal today is a position that is far more than a 40 hour week position. Trying to complete all job oriented tasks and work on a dissertation is difficult for not just yourself but also very trying for your family. I have dealt with this challenge by trying to keep very organized and trying to balance the time spent on work, dissertation, and being a mother and wife. This hasn’t always been the easiest task to accomplish. Trying to keep your priorities straight in your life while completing a doctorate program is the greatest challenge of all!

Family life:

I have been married for 30 years to Terry Allen. Terry is the Director of Quality Management at Mason and Hanger Engineering in Lexington, KY. I have two sons Brett and Brian. Brett is 28 years old and has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Morehead University. Brian is 26 and is completing his master’s degree this semester in Finance from Tulane University. We live on a 10 acre farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

Fun Facts

A talent you have always wanted: To be a pianist

Favorite book: Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Favorite quote: In the movie Pretty Woman when she asked how far he went in school, he said “I went all the way”.

Role Model: My dissertation committee because of the dedication to their field that they exemplify.

Pet Peeve: People that procrastinate

If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? I would be a school administrator


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