Crowns that you wear | Wife, mom, and leader

How did you get started in leadership? | As I completed my Masters program in leadership, my initial desire was to work with aspiring teachers on the collegiate level. In my program, I was 1 of 2 African American women out of 3 aspiring leaders and I quickly realized that my leadership could be more impactful at the school level to support not only students of color, but educators of color as well.

How do you balance your professional and personal life? | I am a work in progress. This is why I surround myself with dynamic women in school leadership so that I may learn from them. My recent strategy is finding time to reflect with myself in the mornings and cutting off school work once I get home.

Describe an experience where you felt challenged in your leadership. | As a beginning school leader, I was young and had my first experience with working in a school where the previous administration was highly respected. It took a minute to gain trust and build relationships with a staff that did not have adequate closure with their previous principal. In the beginning, it appeared that no matter what I did, despite my record in having success, it was not enough. I knew then that I needed to focus on the culture and climate ensure that I was inclusive of the teacher leaders on the campus to assist me in navigating the waters. Once I built those relationships and encouraged movement out of the school to welcome individuals who were aligned to the vision, things began to turn the corner. There was mutual trust because they also experienced success.

What would you tell the next generation of female leadership? | I would tell the next generation to be clear on your why? Leadership can be lonely, challenging and rewarding at the same time. Your leadership will be tested to the point you will have to rely on your "why" to persevere. Align yourself with like minded individuals. Whether you are a teacher or Assistant Principal, you need a tribe. I define a tribe as a group of people who share similar values and interests. Take action with this tribe. Action creates momentum. And the more regularly you connect with others the deeper your relationships will become and the more benefits you will enjoy. Support each other and give back so that you are rewarded with favor at the end.

Describe your self care routine. | Wake up before the household to reflect/read. Go down after the household to reflect on your goals set for the day as it relates to being balanced. Make a plan to do better the next day. Reward yourself for what you were able to accomplish.

Continue to follow Principal Captain Kirk at the following social media accounts:

Instagram and Facebook | @PrincipalCaptainKirk

Twitter | @Jampiperjam

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We’re entering week 5 of remote learning and week I can’t keep count of working from home. Whew! What a rollercoaster ride it has been and continues to be being a mother with two children in both elementary and secondary while working full time from home.

There are days when all is going as planned and days when the internet is slow, someone forgets to submit their assignment by 11:59 pm, and we have occasional tears from the youngest learner.

I feel like my arms are stretched thin. While I’m working and connecting with leaders I support, I have to make sure everyone is function on this end. I often stop to provide a deeper teach in concepts my kids have trouble with. I have found that with this new normal, I was spending more hours working in my office than before. So during week two, we made some changes. After all, I thought, I’ve been a principal with over 900 small children and a staff of 90, I could surely create systems to help my home navigate this time until the kids go back to face to face in October.

Here’s what changed:

  1. Create safe and sound areas for both kids | The kids were in the same room remote learning after my daughter told me I was talking too loud during my meetings after two days of sharing the office. My son is taking Spanish and needed to talk with his teacher regularly, so now both have their own areas. One is at the homework corner while the other has taken over the dining room.

  2. Keep the routine as we did with face to face learning | The kids pick out their outfits for the week and still participate in social distancing extracurricular activities. My son tends to his livestock and daughter has started back with dance. This has helped them fulfill their purposes outside of the house and relieve the demands of remote learning. This also allows hubby and I some time to catch up with each other on these days.

  3. Keep in contact with teachers and utilize their remote learning hours | My son has several teachers so I subscribe to his Google Classroom notices that are sent to me in email as we talk daily about his assignments and needs. My daughter, on the other hand, meets with her teachers and I do not mind asking questions to assist her and providing feedback that helps.

  4. Check in with children all day | checking in helps me clarify any misconceptions that they have, teach as needed, and try to troubleshoot any technological issues they may have. I keep an open policy with my employer about what is going on and also let my school leaders know what is taking place behind the scenes. We are all in this together!

  5. Meal planning | At the beginning of the pandemic and during the summer, I had gotten away from meal planning. I now plan on Sundays and write the weekly menu on our calendar in the kitchen. This also helps with lowering my grocery costs.

  6. Continue to create time for us to spend as a family | no electronics, just family. This is important to me as it keep us closer.

2020 may have provided us with a few challenges. It will surely be a year to remember. We will continue to take it each day and doing what’s best for our home and family. It’s reminded me to practice grace, flexibility, and realistic expectations that fit our needs. I hope you are practicing these things, too.

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In celebrating female leaders, TCP will feature female leaders and their experiences. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Darnisha Harvey, our first Crown Connection feature. She is the epitome of female leadership that leads with her heart and is hands on.

Crowns that she wears | Wife, Principal

How did you get started in leadership? | As a teacher, I was always willing to step up and assist other colleagues, including presenting staff development and working with the assistant principal on the campus mentor program. After 5 years as an ELA teacher, I was presented with the opportunity to become an instructional coach. Serving in that role provided me with the experience of not just working with adults, but leading in a different capacity, ultimately preparing me to land an assistant principal position in 2015. I have now transitioned into my new role of campus principal of an elementary school in Houston, Texas.

How do you balance your professional and personal life? | It's hard! My husband is also an administrator, so education is the topic of many conversations! However, I am working on minimizing screen time and being present in the moment (especially when I'm around other people). I am training myself to take mini-breaks... step away, do something that doesn't involve school, then get back to the grind!

Describe an experience where you felt challenged in your leadership. | One of the biggest challenges I have faced is coming to the realization that every leader is not like you and doesn't share the same work ethic. I saw that first hand in my role as an instructional coach in 2012... and I have seen it every year since. Having critical conversations with other leaders about expectations and responsibilities is uncomfortable, but important.

What would you tell the next generation of female leadership? | You'll probably never feel "fully ready." Even after being an assistant principal for 5 years, there are many things that I still didn't know prior to me being promoted to principal. Do the research as best as you can, build a strong network of leaders who will support you, step out on faith, and go for it!

Describe your self care routine. | Anything that involves stepping away from my laptop/iPad. I enjoy quality time with family, quiet time with self to read or shop, going to for a drive or a walk around the neighborhood.

Continue to follow Dr. Harvey at the following social media accounts:

Instagram | dr_dharvey

Twitter | dr_dharvey

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