Education is something no one can take away from you.
As Peggy Brookins’ grandmother once told her, the more you know, the more you’re able to walk your own path in the world. Peggy’s grandmother, who was born at the turn of the century, was her greatest inspiration. She demanded that Peggy persevere and walk her own path, rather than be a follower — and that’s precisely what she’s done. Whether it was her trailblazing spirit that started a STEM school or her work as CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), Peggy has provided an example of focus, drive, and strong leadership, and has helped others to see women of color as leaders.
In Peggy’s current role as President and CEO of the NBPTS, she’s helping to redefine the process of National Board certification, with the hope of making the process more attractive and accessible to educators. Changes in the certification process are also positively impacting students, as the strong focus on data helps to ground teaching practices in effectiveness.
Peggy’s words resonated like quotations I could put on the walls of my office. I felt challenged to remain silent as so often I wanted to shout, “hear, hear!” As you listen, engage with Peggy’s words around the following topics:
- The challenges of being a woman of color in a leadership role and how to reduce the outside noise in order to focus on the work (8:28).
- How to respond to adversity (in her case, the lack of trust as a leader who is also a woman of color) through preparation and clear goals (11:50).
- Focusing on the students during challenging times so you can see what’s working, rather than getting caught up in the pessimism around educational issues in general (12:30).
- The need for women to assert themselves in leadership roles, as there are so few women in educational leadership (15:25).
- The different kinds of questions men and women are asked and how that affects outcomes for each (18:39).
I suppose what stood out for me was the one word she used to describe women leaders: competent. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many women who are the most courageous, thoughtful, and intentional leaders I know. And each one of them is fiercely competent — ready to do the job and capable of leading a classroom or an organization to success.
Since talking with Peggy, I’ve been working to shift my focus to competent and using this word to give me the additional courage I need to push through boundaries, whether self-imposed or external. And, as we closed our interview, I left thinking we all need a Peggy Brookins in our lives to help us deal with our challenges, to help us overcome, and to remind us just how competent and capable we are.
A big thank you to Peggy Brookins for her leadership in helping other teachers to become leaders.
Crystal Morey is a K-6 instructional coach in Kent, Washington. Crystal spent the past seven years teaching middle level mathematics. She’s a strong advocate of inquiry based mathematics instruction, as well as increasing student voice in the classroom. Crystal has partnered with a variety of organizations on projects, including Illustrative Mathematics, Washington STEM, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. When not teaching, Crystal is a mom to two energetic children. She utilizes her many life experiences to speak about the challenges and opportunities many educators face. Connect with Crystal on Twitter: @TheMathDancer.