|Photo taken by author in Belmont, CA|
Eleanor Roosevelt is a woman and leader that I have come to admire and respect. As a history teacher, I always spent time in my classes asking students to look at events through the eyes of the people and through the eyes of those in charge. Because there are always multiple ways to look at every situation, every turning point.
We would discuss the "what ifs" of history--Would Martin Luther have been as successful if Gutenberg hadn't invented the Printing Press when he did? Would the North American colonies have won their independence form Great Britain if George Washington had not been born? How would WWII have ended if the Allies had not developed the atomic bomb first? These big questions have as much to do with circumstance as they do with leadership. Eleanor Roosevelt knew that she was given the opportunity due to circumstances--her husband was the President--to have a positive impact on the country and the world. When her husband first took office, the nation needed hope and healing. Once World War II started, the nation also needed comfort. Mrs. Roosevelt knew how to provide all of those and more. She supported the marginalized and because she had her husband's ear, she used her position and his authority to help give women and minorities more opportunities. During the war she had regular newspaper columns and radio shows. The people came to know her, lover her, and trust her. In fact, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, she was the first to address the nation and paved the way for her husband to announce that the United States was entering WWII. Once her husband died, she found other ways to use the public leverage she had built up during the time she occupied the White House and became the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, famously authoring the Declaration of Human Rights while heading the UN Human Rights Commission. This was one amazing woman who used every opportunity she had to do the right thing for others.
|Photo taken by author.|
That is what we as education leaders need to be doing, especially now. Our students need us to advocate for them. Our teachers need us to advocate for them. Our parents and communities look to us as leaders of their schools to ensure them that our future will be bright because the next generations passing through our doors are bright, inquisitive, and getting the best education we can provide. So I like to channel Mrs. Roosevelt (among leaders that I admire) to help keep me on track as I work to advocate for those I serve, and remind me that my job is not one about accolades, but one about getting the job done to the best of my ability.
Who are some of your role models?