Supporting female and culturally diverse leaders takes conscious efforts to lead inclusively and address and dismantle hidden biases. It also means actively looking for ways to inspire their best.
Great leaders root themselves in a noble purpose, align it with a compelling vision, and then take action. Not just for that quarter or even that year. But for the rest of their lives. For me, that noble purpose is equity. It is my North Star.
The stories of our family members help remind us of the sacrifices made that help bring us together for a common purpose in educating and serving our youth. We honor our future generations by carrying out the legacy of those who have gone before us. We honor our young people and our elders through our humble spirit, through our positive dispositions, and through taking pride in success.
When I was a kid growing up, I could pretty much count on having the same students in my class year after year. I was in the ‘middle’ track of learners. We were labeled and sorted into groups, and locked there throughout our school career.
When central office leaders spend time as guest teachers, we are better positioned to learn about and address the ins and outs related to systemic equity in the district we lead.
And here is where the reminders of my imperfections as a leader come in. Each weekend as I strive for sharp, rigid lines in my carpet, I am also reminded of my desire for more linear methods of delegation, more definitive processes for decision-making, and more precise organizational systems to help me accomplish the short and long term goals I’ve established for myself as a leader, and for our district as a whole.
It’s been years since that article came out, but I can recall the sentiment with great clarity. It left an imprint on my memory, as it was the first time I had ever experienced such strong emotions as a professional.
I’ve experienced how our system can stack the deck against folks who are already struggling to get by, making it nearly impossible to ever escape the conditions that confine and shatter them. I’ve made it my life’s work to help open doors, windows, and other crevices of hope for those burdened by the failures of systemic injustice. I came to realize over time that I could be an agent of change; that I had capacity and untapped potential to make a difference for those who feel disenfranchised.
As school districts embark to support inclusive school cultures, it is paramount to make sure inclusion is part of the overall strategic plan. Like students, employees want to feel included, heard and valued, and they will go above and beyond if the essential need of belonging is met. Yet in my experience working with school districts across the country, I’ve noticed key employees left out of important discussions and decisions related to systemic change.
Ensuring all students are successful in school, requires a foundation of trust, caring, and support from which to build. Our schools need to be places where students and staff want to be, and where they see themselves and their contributions as valuable and important. Being a leader and champion for all students means just that; ALL students. As a leader concerned with equitable outcomes for all students, our core values should drive our decisions and help us stay true to this belief. It is this unwavering commitment that can inspire others to do the same, promoting a spirit of inclusion and equity that drives success for all.