Ad Spot

RBHS boasts three with doctorate degrees

By Brandi Miller for the FCT


The decision to continue one’s education is not one that can be made lightly. The cost, time and dedication it requires is something not everyone is able or willing to commit to. Three teachers at RBHS decided to accept the challenge, and now all three have completed their doctorate degrees and the personal satisfaction of a job well done.

Dr. Kay Hargett, Dr. Jacqueline Parsons and Dr. Johnny Cleveland have all completed doctorate programs and now have the distinct honor of having doctor included in their title. They each said this title didn’t come without sacrifice.

“The completion of the doctoral degree took two years of full-time work,” said Hargett. “It involved numerous hours of coursework, research, IRB process to go forth with research for dissertation and then conducting a major education project and writing the results within my dissertation. I also spent numerous hours of research while completing course work and working full-time as a health science teacher at RBHS.

“I stayed up numerous nights until 5 a.m. researching and writing my dissertation.”

Parsons echoed Hargett, saying that completing the necessary work for her doctoral degree while working was challenging.

“Once accepted (into the doctoral program), doctoral coursework had to be completed before writing the dissertation,” said Parsons. “Completing the course work took about two years, and conducting research and writing of the dissertation took two years. The cohort had five years to complete the dissertation process.

Dr. Jacqueline Parsons (special education)
Dr. Jacqueline Parsons (special education)

“I was the fourth in my cohort to complete the program and graduate. None of my classes were online, so I had to drive to Birmingham twice a week to attend three-hour classes. I would usually get home past midnight.

“I obtained my doctorate degree while working full time at RBHS. In order for me to finish during my five-year time frame, I gathered and analyzed data, reviewed literature and continuously wrote on weekends, late nights and summers.”

Hargett, Parsons and Cleveland all knew what they were signing on for when they made the decision to get their doctorates, and they all faced the challenge head on.

“It seems I have always been in college, so it seemed natural to continue to push forward to a terminal degree,” said Cleveland.

Dr. Johnny Cleveland (elementary principal)
Dr. Johnny Cleveland (elementary principal)

Cleveland obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama in 1983 with a concentration in science. From there he obtained his Master of Arts degree from the University of North Alabama in 1987 in school administration. Cleveland then enrolled in Nova Southeastern University, where he obtained his doctoral degree in education. His concentration area was instructional technology and distance education.

Cleveland is also a graduate of the Nashville Auction School and a graduate of the Muscle Shoals School of Business. He is a licensed as an auctioneer and real estate broker in the State of Alabama.

Cleveland has taught at Red Bay High School for 23 years in grades 5-12. He has taught social studies, life science, physical science, math, English and black and white photography and served as yearbook sponsor for 13 years. He is currently serving as the elementary school principal, a position he has held for the last nine years.

Parsons began her career as a teacher after discovering that nursing wasn’t something she wanted to pursue.

“I decided I wanted to go back to college to become a registered nurse,” said Parsons. “I worked hard to get accepted into the nursing program at NW-SCC. While attending college, I also worked at the Russellville Hospital to gain more experience. After determining I had a weak stomach, I transferred to UNA to become a special education teacher.”

Parsons earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from UNA in 1998, master’s degree in special education from UNA in 2004, Education Specialist Degree in administration from UNA in 2006 and her doctorate in educational leadership from Samford University in 2010.

Hargett found herself in the role of teacher after first being in the healthcare industry for several years. She served as a nurse executive leader for over 30 years. She has taught at the post-secondary education level at the University of Alabama in Huntsville for 16 years. She has taught at the secondary education level for ten years, teaching grades 9-12. She has taught Foundations to Health Science, Introduction to Pharmacology, Human Body Function and Structure and Veterinary Medicine. She has also taught Health Careers and medical terminology to eighth grade students.

Hargett earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in 1978, her graduate degree in nursing administration from UAH in 2005 and her doctoral degree in nursing from UAH in 2010.

All three teachers said working to get their doctoral degrees was something that couldn’t be done without the help of friends and family.

“I would like to thank God, my husband Steve Hargett, my children Christopher and Bethany and the faculty and staff at RBHS and Franklin County School administration who were all extremely supportive of my work during my doctoral studies,” said Hargett.

“I want to thank my family and friends for continuing to push me during times of struggles and God for dragging me through all the obstacles along this journey,” said Cleveland. “I would also like to thank the many colleagues at school that helped with my survey and data.”

“My immediate family – husband Terry Parsons, children Lori Little, Rocky Shotts, Frank Shotts and Jesse Shotts,” said Parsons, when asked who she would like to thank. “My sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who each played a valuable role in helping me with my accomplishments. Superintendent Moss, Principal Forsythe and the RBHS faculty and staff for providing encouragement and support during challenging times. My dissertation is dedicated to the loving memory of my father and mother Hudson and Maxine Garrison. They would have been proud and probably amazed.”