A meeting built in heaven

This week I was reminded of the power of strong leadership as well as the need to recognize women’s history month at the same time. I had the opportunity to spend an hour with a district superintendent, three principals and the directors of technology, special education, and curriculum all at the same time. We were talking about great leadership, what strong educators do and need, and what professional development looks like and what it could look like. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

Spending time with this team of strong, successful educators was so inspiring. They each complimented the strengths of the others and showed communication excellence at the same time. The respect, wisdom, humor, and love in the room caused me to feel a little envious that I was just a guest with this crew of superstars.

While hanging out with folks like this is great in itself, it was even more fun for me because it was a team made up of all women. That piece of the picture was something that I don’t want to gloss over, hence the need to write about the experience and about other strong women who are working to make the world a better place each and every day.

The last two years of this entrepreneurial journey have allowed us the opportunity to meet strong, positive and generous educators. This journey has also helped us to see that the state of education, while in need of many changes, is a much more innovative and solution-oriented environment than it’s given credit for.  The women we’ve met wake up every day with the mission of ensuring that all students have the best education possible. Knowing they are out there and alongside us keeps us inspired and moving forward.

Gloria Vanderbilt quote about women succeeding and helping other women

2019 Leaderally Women’s History Hall of Fame

In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to highlight a few of the incredible women we’ve met over the last two years. These women embody what we think of when we think of strong, successful women.

  • Nili Bartley – Nili is a classroom teacher and the author of Lead Beyond Your Title: Creating Change in School from Any Role. We met Nili at ASCD in 2018 and it was pretty much ‘love at first sight.’ Her energy, passion for teaching (children and adults), humor, positivity and solution-centered approach to life grabbed hold of our attention and hasn’t let go! She’s a great education leader to follow on Twitter and her book is definitely worth reading!
  • Liz Dozier and Nneka Jones Tapia  – We met Liz just this year in the green room at SXSWEDU. I introduced myself because I wanted to know where she got her amazing dress. We talked for a minute and then, once our presentation was finished, we ran to catch her presentation. Wow, I sure am glad that we did. What she and Dr. Tapia have done and are doing to change the trajectory for kids in Chicago is mind blowing. Both incredibly successful in their careers, (Liz as a former principal from one of the toughest urban schools in Chicago and Nneka as the former Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections), they now work collaboratively through Chicago Beyond, a youth equity platform that exists to help youth, especially those that have experienced trauma, to reach their fullest human potential. These ladies are changing the world one child at a time and we look forward to following their leadership and success.
  • Monica Burns – We learned about Dr. Burns from a friend who said she knows just about everything tech-related. Well, wouldn’t you know it that last year I was able to confirm that this is true. She’s tirelessly working with schools all over the country, sharing insight and strategy into all things EdTech and success with teaching and learning. She is very active on social media, has authored several books and is a frequent presenter at most major conferences. If you’re even remotely interested in EdTech, follow her!
  • Melissa Corto – Melissa, a former special education teacher and coach (of teachers and varsity basketball!), is an edu-preneur like us, and has been such an inspiration! Her generosity of time and thoughtful conversation with us was some of the best ‘medicine’ we could have gotten this year. In addition to supporting other women in business, her organization, Education Modified, is working to make teaching, compliance, and IEPs work better together, and to protect and maximize the educator’s time and energy, in turn positively affecting student engagement and learning success.
  • Mary Beth Kropp – Mary Beth is another educator who gives all she can to improving the state of education for so many people.  We met Dr. Kropp at a conference last year when she stopped by our booth – we ended up talking for about an hour. We stayed in touch and she has shared her wisdom and insight with us. She has advised us on courses and supported what we’re trying to do in the world of PD. She is currently working as a consultant for an organization that works to change climate and culture at schools throughout California. She is passionate about this work because as a former administrator, she knows the tremendous impact that leaders have on students and works to ensure all students have great schools!
  • Marge Zuba – Dr. Zuba is a very new friend who is one of the best examples of what intelligent, generous, kind, passionate educators look like in real life. Marge was our neighbor in the exhibit hall at the ASCD conference just last week. We introduced ourselves and then spent the next three days talking about education, professional development, teaching styles, technology leadership, travel, and food. (She even proofread a grant application we were working on! Who does that?!?) Marge is a Co-Director of Framingham State University’s International Education Program. This organization offers masters degrees to international students in a truly remarkable way. Look into it!
  • Rita Pierson – Although her passing leaves a void in the field of education, her TED Talk titled ‘Every Kid Needs a Champion’ will forever be one of our favorite ways to get fired up about what we’re doing every day. Watching this presentation is sometimes better than coffee. Dr. Pierson’s message about the importance of relationships between educators and students and the true impact that teachers make on children is one that never gets old.

We hope our list of strong women educators will inspire you to remember how amazing you are and how important this profession is to those around you. We are honored to be surrounded by intelligent, kind, funny, generous women and strive to pay our experiences forward to other women.

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