“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart”. I remember my first day at LDI I picked this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. I also remember reflecting on this quote through the fellowship. When we met once a month, our cohort requires us to make space for others’ stories, pride, disappointments, joys and sorrows. As this fellowship has held that space for us all, I have learned the value of having it. Each month, coming in to the leader’s circle felt like a breath of fresh air. I could finally be myself and say what I was really thinking and feeling about work. Having that kind of place made me want to shift my own professional experience to have more spaces like that. I have not only been able to build camaraderie with my cohort, which has been an amazing journey, but also been able to create that sense of camaraderie in my day to day work by improving the culture of my site team. I always want to improve in my ability to communicate a compelling vision of what our afterschool program can be: a safe place where each person has value and a voice - from the youth to the staff, and school community.
Before LDI, I didn’t know the importance of self-reflection and how to make time for self-reflection. I was very caught up in the chaos of my work life. But due to LDI, over the year I have come to realize the power of introspection and taking the time to reflect honestly on my behaviors and feelings. I also realized that the only way to achieve great impact is not by being in charge or being the boss, it’s about having self-awareness. Through the fellowship, I have developed a clearer understanding of my authentic leadership.
Through the fellowship I did experience challenges, especially when I discovered my own weaknesses. I hated conflict and I’d avoid confrontation at all cost with my staff. Because of the fellowship, I learn the importance of non-violent communication. Non-violent communication helped me express my concerns in a correct way with my staff. It helped me realize it’s important to be real and understanding with others. It also helped me guide my consciousness to a new awareness. Due to that, the cohort has given me the confidence to have courageous conversation with staff and deepened my consciousness of power, privilege and oppression. I have been able to explore and come to terms with the way each of these plays a role in my leadership.
Over the year, LDI has deepened my consciousness of power, privilege and oppression, especially in education. I have been able to explore and come to terms with the way each of these plays a role in my leadership. I will continue to work to overcome the historical legacy of discrimination, marginalization and underinvestment that disadvantage specific groups of people (especially those defined by race) by providing support tailored to specific needs of students. I will also continue to provide the youth and their families with the support they need to reach and exceed the bar so they’re preparing for college, a career, and life. I know now that good leaders aren’t born overnight, but that it’s a journey of continuum.