As a previous alternative CTE High School Principal in Denver Public Schools, I yearned for guidance, advice and support in my first year as a young leader.
Sadly, I was heartbroken to learn (quickly) that mentorship was not easy to come by. Maybe even nonexistent in some respect. As a young professional I believed the old adage of, ‘give a man (person) a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a man (person) to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime’ would be ubiquitous in the field of education. I had a ton of questions as a new professional. I was overwhelmed, terrified of making a mistake, of hurting a child, of offending a teacher. Most of the time, I just needed someone to normalize my experience and affirm my intuition. Sadly, it was much more difficult that I thought it would be to find someone to teach me “how to fish.”
Ultimately, that’s what lead me to apply to the ACTE National Leadership Fellowship Program. At my core, I knew there were people that believed (strongly) in CTE and the power it could provide students. I just needed to find where they were, I needed to find “that” community. Luckily, through the fellowship, I found that support, guidance, coaching, and mentorship in Dawn Lindsley, Accreditation Manager based out of Stillwater, OK. As a previous fellow, with a wealth of knowledge in CTE, it was profound how easy our first call was. She was able to relate to my experience, provide answers to questions I was carrying around for months -if not years.
In one short call, I was truly inspired. She provided the liberation, hope, empowerment, activism, and courage I needed to take risks. She evoked images of what strong educational leaders in charge of schools and systems, working within the dominant political and bureaucratic frameworks of the 21st century could really be. She moved the theory of transformative leadership from the pages of a book into to reality. It’s easy to read all about how a leader can be inclusive, equitable, and deeply democratic, but it’s a lot harder to find a leader actually doing these things in practice. In our short time talking, I believe Dawn Lindsley is a transformative leader. One that I can continue to look-up to and learn from.
I have, and will continue, to dedicate myself to active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity in hopes to increase my awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathetic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions. I know it will not be easy but the road is not as lonely when you have someone to talk to who has already traveled down the same path. I am lucky to say I will no longer be alone in my pursuits of becoming a resilient CTE Administered. I found community, I found support, I found a coach and mentor. My sense of responsibility toward working to change our community, city and world by educating young people is one that I am honored to hold. I believe education is key to freedom both personal and economic. I very much look forward to my year as an ACTE fellow.