IN T&L Honor Role podcast, Drs. Kecia Ray and Frances Gipson celebrate violent and formidable women in education. Their guests are some of the most talented education leaders working today.
In each section, guests are asked how they take care of their health and well-being and balance the requirements of management and other responsibilities. Some common themes have emerged.
Most guests emphasized the centrality of health and well-being in relation to their ability to be of service to others, noting that self-care nourishes their work. The importance of sleep, good nutrition and physical activity is central to self-care as well as music, laughter, meditation and joy, especially in this time of ongoing disruption.
Here is some of the wisdom they have to offer:
Dr. Tanzy Kilcrease, Bibb County (GA) Chief of Staff. “Understand that self-care is not selfish. We cannot lead others if we do not worry about ourselves. As women and leaders, we usually put the needs of others before ourselves at the expense of our health. I take time to reflect in the morning and evening and I listen to my body. If you are tired, rest. If you need a day, take one. It’s okay because work is waiting for you when you get back. ”
Dr. Noreen Bush, Cedar Rapids (IA) Superintendent, AASA School Superintendent of the Year 2021. “Most of my life I have not been good at this. Quick slices of daily joy are really what make me go. I moan out of today’s song in my car at work. We eat family dinner together every day. I focus on eating well and resting. I have responsibility partners who hold me accountable for taking care of myself. ”
Marie Izquierdo, Chief Strategic Officer at Miami-Dade County (FL) Public Schools. “I like fitness and training quite a lot. I’m a principal of Orange Theory. It’s an hour I spend on myself. I love reading and sometimes binge on tv. Occasionally I take a mental health day to read on the beach or go for a long walk. I am a member of Chiefs for Change and there are so many female leaders that I admire. We turn to each other for support and advice on fights that are unique to women. ”
Dr. Danelle Walker Whiteside, first black president of Austin Peay State University (TN). “I do not really believe in work-life balance. It’s not 50/50. I have learned to integrate working life. I take my family to college functions, and my mother accompanies us to help. Self-care is another problem. We need to give ourselves permission to integrate ourselves into our lives. If I integrate everything, I have to give myself space to do it. ”
Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan, founder and CEO of the Youth Mentoring Action Network (CA). “Self-care is a radical act. This is new to me. I am more aware of my time and what I want and do not want to do. I do 45 minutes of cardio meditation in the morning and I work on eating the right kind of fuel for my body. And most importantly, understanding that if I do not get to something today, the world will be fine if I do it tomorrow. It helps me make room for all the other things I do. ”
Dr. Maria Armstrong, Executive Director of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. “Look at being present in the moment so you can enjoy it. Personally, I love to train. This is where I generate my energy and am the highlight of my day. Once I have done that, I am ready to take on everything. Surround yourself with joy – friends and family. It is the joy you have to create for yourself. You just have to use the time. ”
Monica Garcia represents Board District 2 in Los Angeles USD. “I am a teacher when it comes to self-care and understanding that our best self is our whole self. Sleep can not be underestimated, drink water, take a 30-minute walk, really understand that you deserve it and it will help you walk your next mile. I believe in wellness. Plan joy in your day. Surround yourself with people who feed your soul, and remember you must be your greatest cheerleader so you are aware of the ‘you’ you are building. ”
Dr. Debra Duardo, principal of Los Angeles County Schools. “Now more than ever we need to practice self-care. This pandemic has put a highlight on mental health as our entire lives have been disrupted. I have been an avid meditator for over 30 years, so I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes. It gives me the ability to stay calm, to focus on myself and not let the little things drive me crazy. I think everyone needs to find what works for them, whether it’s music, meditation, dance, sports or the gym. It is really important to find a balance. ”
You can find more interviews with violent and formidable educator women at Tech & Learning’s Honor Role podcast.