Just this month, Rahway High School social studies teacher Michael Celoski completed an academic journey he started back in 2005. After many years of studying, taking graduate classes, reading, researching, and writing, he earned his Ed.D. from Seton Hall University College of Education and Human Services.

An Ed.D. is a doctorate in education, often the highest degree a person can get who works as a teacher or as an administrator. It is a degree beyond a college degree and is typically earned after getting a master’s degree too. Most people never go this far with their education. It is a very considerable achievement and requires the writing of a dissertation, which is a long research paper usually at least 100 pages long. We sat down with Mr. Celoski and asked him about this accomplishment and how he was able to achieve it.

Q: Mr. Celoski, congratulations on getting your Ed.D. Tell us a little bit about why you wanted to get it and what happened along the way.
A: Thanks so much. I always loved school. I already had two master’s degrees when I started at Seton Hall. I actually finished the courses I needed for the degree in 2007 and that was the year I started working as an administrator in Rahway. I started here as a teacher in 2001. After becoming a vice principal, I got a little sidetracked and ended up taking off basically eight years from working on the degree.

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Q: So why did you end up coming back to it after all that time?
A: I ended up returning to the classroom as a teacher a few years ago. I always wanted to finish the degree eventually and then, about three years ago, Seton Hall contacted me and told me that if I still wanted to finish the degree I could do so, but that I had to decide soon. I spoke with a number of people I trusted and decided the time was right. My wife and I decided that 2018 had to be the year I would finish.

Q: What were the biggest obstacles you faced?
A: Honestly, I was petrified I would fail. I realize now that fear is the biggest obstacle in our way when we try to accomplish something. The lesson I’ve learned is that perseverance is the key. Don’t ever give up. It’s all mind over matter, and you’re capable of amazing things. Regret is a terrible thing. But it all comes back to that fear, of whatever it may be in your own life. Don’t ever give in to it.

Q: So what was your actual project all about that earned you your degree?
A: When I returned to finish, I actually changed the topic. The title of my dissertation is “Improving Instructional Practice via Walkthrough Implementation: A Superintendent Centered Perspective.” I interviewed many superintendents working in a variety of public schools and studied their perspectives on walkthroughs, which are basically a kind of informal classroom visit. It was a very rewarding experience for me. I really enjoyed it.

Q: Is there anyone you’d like to thank who helped you along the way?
A: The university itself—Seton Hall—was so good to me in allowing me to finish. I really believe that it showed me the true compassion that is part of its mission as a Catholic institution. I also really want to thank a friend of mine, Walter Campbell, who also finished the same program and pushed me to finish. At Rahway, I have to thank three people in particular—Edward Yergalonis, Christine Salcito, and John Perillo. They all believed in me and encouraged me. I can never repay them or thank them enough. Lastly, but most importantly, I must thank my wife. She has been my constant support and has sacrificed so much so that I could finish.

Q: Mr. Celoski, your story is so inspiring. Thank you so much.
A: Thank you for the interview. I really appreciate it.