Barb Dilosa says teaching is in her blood. Her father was an instructor in the Army and her mother taught cosmetology. As a child, she liked to play school and she always played the teacher.

“I felt called to teach,” Dilosa says. In particular, she felt called to teach in urban schools. “My heart was that children—all children—should have access to highly qualified teachers and teachers who love them,” she says. “And I wanted to be one of those teachers.”

First, however, she served in the Air Force for 11 years. That experience, she says, helped shape the culture of her fifth-grade classroom at Edward Bain School of Language and Art in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“I’m always talking to the kids about being a leader: ‘What is a leader? How are you effective?’ And I feel all of that ties to my military background,” she says.

What Dilosa says she loves most about teaching is making a connection with the kids. At the start of each school year, she shows her students a picture of her husband and three children. “But you know what’s missing?” she asks them. “Each one of you, because you really do feel like my kids before the year is over.”

Seeing children learn and grow, both academically and in their character, is one of teaching’s biggest rewards, says Dilosa. “Just watching the kids transform before me and knowing I had an impact in that, is just beautiful.”

Dilosa dreams of opening her own school one day and says earning her master’s degree is a necessary step in achieving that goal. She had looked into a number of programs but says “none of them made my heart leap.” Then she read about MSOE’s MBA in Education Leadership.

“The fact that this program combines educational leadership with that business component, to me, that’s priceless,” Dilosa says. “Earning an MBA, this is the bonus for me.”

She says the program’s cohort model is a great way for the MBA students to develop and learn together. “And within the cohorts, we also have teams,” she says. “I love that because I’m learning more about myself as a person, as a leader, how to be a better team member, and also, how to communicate more effectively.”

Dilosa says she’s constantly singing the program’s praises and has recommended it to other teachers.

After completing the program, Dilosa would like to gain experience as a principal of an established school. But she says the MBA-EL program is helping her shape plans for her ultimate dream. “I ask myself questions such as ‘What do I want my school to look like? What’s going to make my school different?’ I’m in that developing stage of writing out what I really want to achieve.”

One thing Dilosa knows for sure, as a leader and administrator, she intends to stress the “L word” in teaching. “You need to love kids. At the root of who we are and what we do, there needs to be love for every child—the lovely child, the unlovely child—all of them.”