Bill Bradford: From Teacher to Administrator to Federal Grants Specialist

Bill Bradford graduated from Ball State University in 2007 with a BA in Education with a concentration in English. He later obtained an MS in Educational Leadership from Indiana University: South Bend.  He has served as a school administrator, athletic director, and as a teacher in South Bend Community School Corporation and Indianapolis Public Schools.  With over 10 years of field experience, he is now serving as a Federal Grants Specialist for the Indiana Department of Education

How did your English major lead to your current position?

As an English major, I was presented with several really important leadership opportunities in the field of teaching. Since Language Arts is heavily tested in the K-12 environment, I was given the responsibility of leading collaborative discussions, curriculum planning and developing assessments. Later, I was given some administrative opportunities as an Athletic Director and Assistant Principal in a large school corporation. In my current position, I work for the Indiana Department of Education as a Federal Grant Specialist.

What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition into that job?

While I was an English major at Ball State, I developed skills that are very important to my current position such as: communicating effectively with school leaders, editing and revising large grants with great attention to detail, and the collaborative skills needed to work in a small team of other specialists. Critical thinking plays a huge role in my work since federal education funds are often subject to cuts, which means that school districts need expert advice on how to coordinate all of their funding sources, so that they can accomplish their programming goals for students.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day consists of fielding a large number of e-mails from Curriculum Directors, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendent’s and Program Administrators from all over the state. My main priority each day is to review grant applications for federal funds, which may take between fifteen minutes to three hours, depending on the size of the corporation. More often than not, I will communicate with members from the field via phone conference about the funding sources available to them. Because we monitor how funds are being used at the district level, visiting school districts in the field is also a part of my role for the Indiana Department of Education.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?

Keep an open mind. As an English major, you have many of the soft skills, such as communication and collaboration, that employers are actually looking for. Many of the technical skills that you need to perform different jobs can be learned through on-the-job training. However, as an English major you have had to learn complicated concepts, persist by reading through esoteric documents, and communicate effectively with others about difficult subject matter. Many employers are looking for people that can do these things because these skills are much harder to teach. It’s important to keep an open mind because you may find that there are opportunities out there that may not necessarily be a “traditional” career destination for an English major.

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