Journal of Texas Women School Executives
JTWSE provides a forum to promote the development of women school executives through scholarly research and practice. JTWSE recognizes the diversity of talents and skills of women school executives.
Copyright 2012 by the Texas Council of Women School Executives All rights reserved. ISSN 2166-112X
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
Co-Editors Dr. Genie Linn & Ms. Karen Saunders
Reviewers Ms. Karla Burkholder Dr. Shirley Coleman Ms. Jana Garner Ms. Rebecca LaFlamme Dr. Sharon Ross Ms. Diane Stegall Dr. Barbara Sultis Ms. Merideth Wright
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Journal of Texas Women School Executives (JTWSE) Journal of Texas Women School Executives (JTWSE) is an official publication of the Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE). The purpose of JTWSE is to provide a forum to promote the development of women school executives through scholarly research and practice, as well as recognize the professional knowledge and wisdom of practicing and aspiring women school executives. Since leadership is both art and science, JTWSE also solicits creative works that promote the journal purpose. The journal solicits original submissions in three categories to recognize the diversity of talents and skills of women school executives (see Categories of Articles). Because of a commitment to leadership development and scholarship among school women executives, Texas Council of School Women Executives previously published an annual monograph until 2008. In January 2011, President Lu Anna Stephens and the Executive Board, commissioned Dr. Genie Linn and Ms. Karen Saunders to serve as co-editors to design and launch a new professional publication for TCWSE to be published in an electronic format with the first publication to be unveiled at the Annual Conference in January 2012. JTWSE is an electronic journal open to members and others, both as writers and readers. The journal has been conceived as an "on-line" journal that is available on the world-wide web. For membership information see http://tcwse.org/membership.html At present, all editorial, Board, and reviewer services are provided without cost to JTWSE or its members by volunteer scholars and practitioners.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
From the President . The history of the journal is to bring together the great works of great women and for great women. JTWSE proudly highlights scholarly research and professional perspectives along with poetry, essays and nonwork related materials to create a well-balanced collection of written work. Always inclusive, we are pleased that men are also contributors to the journal standing as advocates for issues that impact women school executives! Genie and Karen have worked tirelessly to bring together written work that will touch your heart and inspire you to continue your passionate leadership journey in education. We know as women much of our leadership starts with heart and passion for the work we do each day. Many of us have experiences where we discovered that we have made an impact with our students and community that we didnâ€™t even know at the time. We learn in some way our presence and our leadership made a difference in someoneâ€™s life. I invite you to share these stories with us and show how your leadership through an ethic of caring has changed lives. Finally, JTWSE presents research scholarship that adds to the body of educational knowledge through thoughtful and provocative studies. Research undergirds the daily lives of women school executives. I greatly appreciate the research work presented in this issue because our professionalism is defined by quality research that validates our work and guides our leadership decisions. Find your place in the action, begin now! Enjoy this publication and consider what you have to share. Thank you so much,
Denise Daniels President
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
From the Editors Body, Mind, & Spirit In our call for submissions, we have intentionally avoided thematic guidelines, hoping to remove any barriers for contributors, encouraging authors to share with us what is important to them. I have been delighted and awed to see how clearly the submissions show me the themes for each volume. This year’s works can be categorized into areas of well-being and growth for women executives. The authors reflect the concern for physical and mental health for women executives who are endure the daily pressures of the high stress positions in school. In addition, the research articles also provide women executives with valuable information to support critical school changes, as well as significant life decisions. The research articles vary from school prayer to literacy, but primarily the research creates a picture of who women school leaders are and the challenges and sometimes barriers they face in the commission of their assignments. Women professionals are pretty amazing, so we need to work to support and encourage more to come forward. The professional perspectives come from personal experience and wisdom regarding the unique physical and spiritual needs of women in positions of leadership. Just as current authorities advocate for the “whole child,” our authors speak of a balanced and healthy life of a whole woman. Laugh and be inspired with Sharon Ross’s poem, along with a superintendent’s tale of a day back in classrooms. We end there where most of us began… in the classroom. Scratch the surface of any woman school executive and you will find a teacher. Our own Elizabeth Clark’s beautiful poem captures the heart of our educational being—making a difference. I hope this issue brings you information to support your career and inspiration to encourage your daily life. Read all the way to the end to find a treasure with the photographic artwork entitled “Reflect.” You won’t be disappointed!
Genie Bingham Linn, Ed. D.
Karen Saunders, M. Ed
Editor. Member since 2000
Editor, member since 2005
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
Table of Contents From the President
Denise Daniels From the Editors Mind, Body, Spirit- Dr. Genie Linn & Mrs. Karen Saunders
In this Issue
Research A Brief History of Prayer in Schools
Karla Burkholder Perception of Family Literacy Among Immigrant Families
Dr. Mary Alfred Dr. Feyi Obamehinti A Narrative of Resiliency and Cultural Acceptance: Social Justice, Competition, and Quality Viewed through the Gendered Lens
Dr. Wesley D. Hickey Dr. Genie Linn Dr. Vance Vaughn The Chameleon Identity
Dr. Laura Trujillo-Jenks Commonalities of Women Superintendents in Texas
S. Brigette Whaley Career Barriers for Women Superintendents: What Can We Learn from the Research? Lisa D. Severns Dr. Julie P. Combs
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
Professional and Scholarly Perspectives Open Letter to Women Executives
Dr. Lu Stephens Running in Mud
Dr. Sharon Ross Refuel, Recharge and Refresh: Strategies to Forge Forward!
Dr. Sharon D. Ross Teacher, You Make a Difference
Dr. Elizabeth Clark It’s Really Just Kids and Teachers
Barbara Quails, Superintendent It’s The M.I.L.E.S. in the Journey
Dr. Karla Moyer Labyrinth for Leadership
Dr. Charli Caraway
Creative Works Picture This . . .
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
In This Issue Research A Brief History of Prayer in Schools, by Karla Burkholder. Karla brings important information to us in her historical research on prayer in schools. In our deeply conservative state, school communities are very concerned about the spiritual training of students. Karla’s research provides the background and substance for administrators. Women school executives come face-to-face daily with their own spirituality and legal boundaries of school leadership. Perception of Family Literacy among Immigrant Families, by Dr. Mary Alfred & Dr. Feyi Obamehinti. This article touches both spirit and mind. Literacy is sacred for educators. Understanding broadens caring when educators see the impact of family perceptions on literacy. The more we know, the better we can do our job at reaching our diverse populations. Drs. Alfred and Obamehinti offer explanations and practical ideas for solutions. A Narrative of Resiliency and Cultural Acceptance: Social Justice, Competition, and Quality Viewed through the Gendered Lens, by Dr. Wesley D. Hickey, Dr. Genie Linn & Dr. Vance Vaughn. Nothing inspires like story, and Rebecca’s story will speak to every woman executive. Seeing her experiences through a male perspective compared to a woman’s understanding adds a special dimension to the study. Storytelling research is a powerful venue for bringing understanding to issues. This article reminds us of our roles as mentors to support women leaders as they step out beyond the cultural expectations of their families and communities. The Chameleon Identity, by Dr. Laura Trujillo-Jenks. This is another research piece that speaks to the mind and spirit of women. Like chameleons are physically able to blend in to their surroundings, individuals adopt identities to meet different situations. Leaders, particularly women in leadership, become very adept at adopting identities necessary for successfully handling administrative roles. You can relate this phenomenon to your own leadership life. Commonalities of Women Superintendents in Texas, by S. Brigette Whaley. This study has gathered quantitative survey data that shows what women superintendents in Texas have in common. This research looks at hard data regarding age, education, locations and salary to establish trends and patterns. The facts are very revealing about the challenges that women meet as they enter the superintendency. The greater question for the reader to ask is why these patterns are in place. Career Barriers for Women Superintendents: What Can We Learn from the Research? by Lisa D. Severns & Dr. Julie P. Combs. The spirit and mind of women executives are touched by this study that identifies the barriers faced by women on their career journeys .The research substantiate the pressures and challenges that face modern women who accept the challenge of the superintendency while balancing life as wife, mother, and friends.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
Professional Perspective Open Letter to Women Executives, by Dr. Lu Anna Stephens. You will be inspired and delighted to “hear” advice from our favorite mentor, Dr. Lu. . She understands women in leadership in a real and relevant way that has grown from her own life in school leadership. Dr. Stephen’s letter encourages women professionals to have a “brave heart” and believe in themselves. Refuel, Recharge and Refresh: Strategies to Forge Forward! by Dr. Sharon D. Ross. Dr. Ross brings her vibrant love for life to everything she does. Learn her secrets for living the energized life while successfully leading a school district. It’s The M.I.L.E.S. in the Journey, by Dr. Karla Moyer. Those of us who know Dr. Moyer personally have been inspired by her courage and her positive attitude through her fight with cancer. She tells her compelling story reminds readers that life is wonderful and in the midst of physical hardship we can find joy. Labyrinth for Leadership, by Dr. Charli Caraway. Dr. Caraway takes us on a spiritual walk through the many options of life as a labyrinth. This article is an invitation to reflection and meditation for leaders. It’s Really Just Kids and Teachers, by Barbara Quails. Laugh with Superintendent Barbara Quails as she relates her experiences back in the classroom. As a treat for teachers in her district, she substitutes to give them a break. Some fear that central office personnel don’t understand what happens in the classroom, but Barbara’s faculty knows she understands!
Creative Works Picture This . . . Reflections, by Jana Garner. A summer afternoon photograph leads to self-reflective thinking about leadership.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013
Research is the hallmark of educational professionalism and scholarship. The following articles reflect the scholarship of women school executives from universities and school districts. While university professors research issues that are vital to women as leaders and support women educators, district and campus authors share applied research from their experiences in the field.
Scholarly research builds leadership capacity and strengthens our voices.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 A Brief History of Prayer in Schools Karla Burkholder Director of Instructional Technology Northwest Independent School District Abstract The controversy over prayer in public schools has spanned three centuries. What began as a fight over which Bible and what kind of prayer to allow in schools, ultimately resulted in neither being allowed. Although arguments both for and against school prayer are often defended as a First Amendment right of freedom of speech, the real core of the issue is the idea of governmentimposed religion. The evolution of the debate over prayer in schools is an interesting study in case law that will provide the woman school executive a foundation upon which to base any decision she must make on the issue.
Introduction The debate over school prayer in American schools has raged almost as long as the United States has existed (Green, 2009). People on each side of the dispute generally cite the First Amendment right of freedom of speech to support their argument (Stone, 1983). Yet, the core of the issue is not freedom of speech, but rather the idea of a government-imposed religion. According to a 2005 Gallup poll, 76% of Americans favor a constitutional amendment to allow voluntary prayer in public schools, while just 23% oppose such an amendment. This is not new. In 1983, a similar poll showed 81% in favor, and polls in the past decade show about threequarters of Americans are consistently supportive of voluntary school prayer (Moore, 2005). Headlines from the Secular Daily News tell a different story: (1) “Americans United Asks Texas Public School District To Stop Imposing Religion On Students At Graduation” (Americans United, 2011); (2) “Unfair And Unbalanced: Fox News Offers One Side of Grad Prayer Story” (Bathija, 2011); (3) “Fire and Brimstone Delivered at Public Graduation” (Freedom from Religion Foundation, 2011). A school official leading a prayer at a school board meeting, or students praying in groups on school grounds are examples of situations that local districts may encounter. Knowledge of the history of prayer in schools will provide the woman school executive a solid foundation to defend any decision required on this controversial topic. The First Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (U. S. Constitution) 2
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 The First Amendment provides for freedom of religion and protection from government imposed religion. It is also known as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause (Edmondson, 2006). To debate the issue of school prayer in the context of the first amendment, those who support school prayer have argued that the original intent of the amendment must be considered. They contended that at the most basic level the authors of the amendment did not intend to prevent prayer in any public place. To support their argument, they referenced that at the time the amendment was drafted, the First Congress had a chaplain on retainer, and the congressmen publicly prayed. Additionally, the day after the amendment was proposed, George Washington declared a day of public prayer and thanksgiving (Edmondson, 2006). However, Stone (1983) argued that while the prayer supporters were correct, the act of praying in a public place was not the real issue. The core issue was the “special characteristics of school prayer” (p. 832). Although Supreme Court decisions on issues regarding religious exercises, including prayer, are inconsistent, most have found against allowing religious activity of any kind in public schools. For example, in the Engel v. Vitale (1962) decision, Justice Black opined that the State of New York had clearly sponsored religious activity when students were invited to recite a stateauthored prayer. In the School District of Abington Township v. Schempp (1963) decision, the Court found that schools could not require students to participate in religious activities. Even so, Justice Clark explained that there was a clearly distinguishable difference between requiring students to participate in religious activities in school and activities such as oaths of office and opening legislative sessions with prayer (School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 1963). Therefore, while the framers of the first amendment did not intend to prohibit public prayer, they offered no specific explanation or clarification of prayer in schools and the idea of forcing impressionable children to participate in largely Protestant religious activities regardless of their particular faith. Stone (1983) argued that even if clarification had been included, schools have changed significantly since the amendment was written over 200 years ago. Additionally, he argued that the spirit of the amendment was to prevent the comingling of church and state (Stone, 1983). History of the Debate Americans today have forgotten that religion was an important part of American education for the first 150 years of the existence of the nation. All students participated in largely Protestant religious activities, read the King James Bible, sang hymns, and prayed routinely. The New York Free School established in 1805 publicly announced at its opening that its primary purpose, albeit nonsectarian, was “ to inculcate the sublime truths of religion and morality contained in the Holy Scriptures" (Green, p. 851). While the school claimed to not promote a specific religion, teachers were required to “embrace every favorable opportunity of inculcating the general truths of Christianity, and the primary importance of practical religious and moral duty, as founded on the precepts of the Holy Scriptures” (Green, p. 851). In 1834 the Pennsylvania Legislature passed the Free School Act to create a public school system for the state. Any existing school district whose citizens voted for a tax to maintain their school would receive money from the state school fund (Lannie & Diethorn, 1968). Philadelphia schools generally began the day with a Bible reading from the King James Bible. Although the 1834 law that established the school fund did not address religion, the State Board of Controllers made it clear when challenged that schools could not conduct sectarian activities because 3
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 funding came from taxes paid by all citizens. The Board added that by including religious activities the rights of some part of the community would be violated. The Board ordered public schools to stop any religious activity, books, or lessons, but failed to address reading quotes from the Bible. Conversely, in 1838 the state mandated the King James Bible as a reqiored textbook in all public schools to be presented in classrooms without teacher commentary on the content. It was assumed there would not be proselytizing in the classroom. The Catholics in Philadelphia found the mandate offensive because they did not recognize the King James Bible as the official word of God. Their objections were expressed in a letter to the Catholic Herald, published weekly by the Philadelphia Catholic diocese. The main issue was Catholic children being forced to read and memorize the Protestant Bible (Lannie & Diethorn, 1968). Tension between the Catholics and Protestants escalated as Catholic teachers refused to read the Bible to their students. There were serious repercussions to their refusals. One Catholic teacher was fired after six years in the Southward School District as an example to other Catholic teachers. Children suffered whippings in front of their classmates, were kept after school to be punished, and were scolded publicly by their teachers for being Catholic (Lannie & Diethorn, 1968). After years of quarreling between the Catholics and Protestants, in 1843 the Controllers voted to allow the Catholic Bible as a choice for Catholic students in public schools. The Protestants believed that the Controllers had gone too far. They believed in ruling by the majority, that they had founded the schools, and that Catholic children were not forced to attend the schools. In reality the Protestants did not follow the Controllersâ€™ ruling and prohibited the Catholic Bible. Eighty Protestant clergy organized to promote and ensure the Protestant Bible as the infallible word of God and to fight the spread of Romanism. Although the Catholics vehemently opposed what they perceived to be government-endorsed Protestant religious education, all they really wanted was for their children to be able to read their own bibles in school. The turmoil culminated in three days of rioting in the streets of Philadelphia with the deaths of both Catholics and Protestants. Because the Protestants outnumbered the Catholics, hundreds of Catholic homes and churches were burned (Lannie & Diethorn, 1968). Court Cases The first landmark decision on religion in schools was McCollum v. Board of Education of 1948. The plaintiff challenged the use of release time during the school day for religious instruction. In McCollum the Supreme Court ruled that publicly funded schools could not provide sectarian programming or instruction during school hours in the school building. The unconstitutionality of the practice was based upon the First Amendment clause denying the government endorsing any religion (Mead et al., 2007). A second landmark decision occurred in 1962 in the case of Engle v. Vitale. In New York schools students were invited to say a uniform prayer, composed by district personnel, at the beginning of each day (Mead et al., 2007). The Court found the invitation to prayer unconstitutional. The Court used an analogy of religious practices in England before colonizing America. In the decision the Court stated: They knew rather that it [the first amendment] was written to quiet well-justified fears which nearly all of them felt arising out of an awareness that governments of 4
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 the past had shackled men's tongues to make them speak only the religious thoughts that government wanted them to speak and to pray only to the God that government wanted them to pray to. (Engle v. Vitale, 1962) New York State was found in violation of the Establishment Clause when it included a uniform prayer in its Statement on Moral and Spiritual Training in the Schools document (Bennett & Foldesy, 2008). In his written opinion, Justice Hugo Black stated, First Amendment rests upon the premise that both religion and government can best work to achieve their lofty aims if each is left free from the other within its respective sphere Here not only are the state's tax supported public school buildings used for the dissemination of religious doctrines. The State also affords sectarian groups an invaluable aid in that it helps to provide pupils for their religious classes through use of the state's compulsory public school machinery. Its first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion. The history of governmentally established religion, both in England and in this country, showed that whenever government had allied itself with one particular form of religion, the inevitable result had been that it had incurred the hatred, disrespect and even contempt of those who held contrary beliefs. That same history showed that many people had lost their respect for any religion that had relied upon the support of government to spread its faith. The Establishment Clause thus stands as an expression of principle on the part of the Founders of our Constitution that religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its "unhallowed perversion' by a civil magistrate. (Engle v. Vitale, 1962) There have been nine Supreme Court decisions on school prayer (Davis, 2009). The Supreme Court has analyzed three types of school prayer: (1) devotionals, (2) prayer in the curriculum, and (3) prayer at school events. The Establishment Clause was the critical test applied to each case. In applying the test, the Court determined whether or not the prayer in question was permissible based upon three conditions: (1) who was praying; (2) whether or not students were forced to participate; and (3) where the prayer transpired. With the exception of two cases, the Court found that the Establishment Clause was violated. However, the two cases where the Court found in favor of school prayer raise questions regarding the reliability of applying the Establishment Clause (Mead, Green & Oluwole, 2007). The Establishment Clause tests. The Supreme Court uses three tests to determine violations of the Establishment Clause. The tests may be considered singularly or together to determine constitutionality (Liva, 2009). Lemon test. The Lemon v. Kurtzman decision resulted in the Lemon test. Chief Justice Burger created the Lemon test in his 1973 majority opinion. A statute must meet the three criteria of the Lemon test to be upheld as constitutional. A law must have a secular purpose; neither promote or inhibit religion; and cause no excessive comingling of government and religion (Epley. 2007). The Lemon test has never been overturned and is still used today to guide court decisions (Mead et al, 2007). Coercion test. Justice Kennedy created the coercion test in Lee v. Weisman. The coercion test is 5
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 used to determine whether or not the government coerced participation in the religious activity. In regard to public schools, it is used to determine whether or not students experienced a coercive effect (Liva, 2009). Endorsement test. In Lynch v. Donnelly the Supreme Court determined that the display of a crèche in a Rhode Island city’s annual Christmas presentation did not violate the Establishment Clause. Created by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her opinion of the Lynch decision, the endorsement test is used to determine whether or not a reasonable person knowledgeable of the context and history surrounding the religious event or activity in question would view the event or activity as a government endorsement of religion (Liva, 2009). Justice O’Connor wrote, “The Coercion Test asks whether the ‘machinery of the state’ has been marshaled to coerce individuals to pray” (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984). While the endorsement test has been applied in many cases, it has not produced a conclusive answer to the question of constitutionality in all cases. In fact, the Tenth Circuit Court determined that it was "an unworkable standard that offers no useful guidance to courts, legislators or other government actors who must assess whether government conduct goes against the grain of religious liberty the Establishment Clause is intended to protect" (Bauchman v. West High School, 1997, p. 552). Santa Fe v. Doe. Santa Fe v. Doe centered on the Santa Fe Independent School District policy allowing student-led prayer before football games. Santa Fe Independent School District had a history of student-led prayer. The students were elected by their peers to lead prayer at a school event. An Appellate Court ruling found that the district’s policy was unconstitutional in accordance with the Establishment Clause. The Court stated that the policy was not only an actual endorsement of prayer, but also a perceived endorsement, and, therefore, sent a message to nonbelievers that they were outsiders and that believers were the favored group in the community (Lugg & Robinson, 2009). The Supreme Court case specifically addressed pre-game prayer at football games. The district built its case based on the facts that the prayers were student-led as opposed to clergy-led, and that the prayers were offered before football games as opposed to graduation ceremonies. The Court was not convinced, and ruled that “the realities of the situation plainly reveal that its policy involves both perceived and actual endorsement of religion” (Santa Fe v. Doe, 2000). The Supreme Court found student-delivered prayer before football games over a public address system in violation of the Establishment Clause. “[T]he delivery of such a message, over the school's public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, under the supervision of the school faculty, and pursuant to a school policy that explicitly and implicitly encourages public prayer - is not properly characterized as private speech” (Santa Fe v. Doe, 2000). Albington Township School District v. Schempp. The Supreme Court decision declared unconstitutional a Pennsylvania law requiring Bible readings at the beginning of each school day. Even after the 1963 Schempp decision on school prayer, schools across the nation continued to routinely encourage religious practices at school and school events. Some schools continued their practices because of community tradition, but some continued them simply as a show of resistance. For example, schools in Fort Worth, Texas continued Protestant practices even though the school populations were very diverse including many Catholic and Greek Orthodox students. These practices continued to some degree in Fort Worth schools as recently as the turn of this century (Green, 2009). 6
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Gaines v. Anderson. The State of Massachusetts mandated a moment of prayer or meditation in public schools. A federal district court upheld the statute because it did not mandate one over the other, and because it supported secular values such as respect of authority and reflecting on one’s values. After the Massachusetts legislature tried unsuccessfully to amend the law twice to exclude meditation, the final amendment changed the language of the statute from “meditation and prayer” to “personal thoughts.” The law is in effect today (Kaminer, 2002). Duffy v. Las Cruces Public Schools. In Duffy v. Las Cruces Public Schools a New Mexico federal court struck down a law providing for a moment of silence because it contained the word “prayer”. The Court was so convinced that the legislature was trying to put prayer back in school that it included in its decision that the Las Cruces Public School Board could never again implement any program that remotely resembled a moment of silence (Kaminer, 2002). Lee v. Weisman. In 1992 the Court decided that it was unconstitutional for a member of the clergy to deliver an invocation or benediction at a public school graduation, and that in doing so, the school endorsed religion and required students who were non-believers to accept the religious practices (Bennett & Foldesy, 2008). Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District. In 1993 Lamb’s Chapel requested to rent facilities from the Center Moriches School District. The district denied the request, although other groups regularly rented facilities from the school district for the same purpose. The district based the denial on the Establishment Clause. In one of only two unanimous decisions the Court found in favor of Lamb’s Chapel (Mead et al., 2007). “The showing of this film series would not have been during school hours, would not have been sponsored by the school, and would have been open to the public, not just to church members. The District property had repeatedly been used by a wide variety of private organizations” (Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 1993). The Court determined that the district’s decision violated the First Amendment right of free speech (Mead et al, 2007). Good News Club et al. v. Milford Central School. Like Lamb’s Chapel, the Good News Club requested the use of school facilities for the purpose of providing religious instruction immediately after school for elementary students. The Court once again found in favor of the plaintiff and that the Establishment Clause did not prohibit the district granting the use of the facilities because other groups were allowed to use the facilities at the same time. The Court stated that the district’s denial of the request constituted viewpoint discrimination (Mead et al., 2007). Doe v. Duncanville ISD. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that coach-led prayer was a violation of the Establishment Clause. The plaintiff suffered verbal harassment as a result of the decision (Doe v. Duncanville Independent School District, 1995). Response to Court Decisions Romanish (2003) accused public schools of hiring employees because their personal religious orientations align with the community. As evidence, he pointed out the requirement to follow the decision from the Santa Fe, the pre-game speech of Roane County High School Principal Jody McLoud who said,
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case law. As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternative lifestyle and if someone is offended, that's okay. I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's okay. I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem. I can designate a school day as Earth day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, Mother Earth, and call it ecology. I can use the literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional, Christian convictions as simple minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment. However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case law is violated. This appears to be at best, inconsistent and at worst, hypocritical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and everyone except God and His Commandments. Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules with which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be, at best, inconsistent and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression. For this reason, I shall, "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and ask Him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law yet (Lee, pp. 26-27). The Romanish (2003) compared Principal McLoud’s clear violation of Santa Fe to that of an insubordinate teacher ignoring a directive, and ultimately undermining the authority of the principal. Moment of Silence Brown v. Gilmore challenged the State of Virginia law requiring a moment of silence in its public schools. Under the law Virginia students were given the opportunity to use the moment of silence in any way as long as their own choices did not interfere with their classmates’ individual choices. The Fourth Circuit Court upheld the law because its purpose was secular (Epley, 2007). However, the dissenting opinion described the law as a "thinly veiled attempt to reintroduce state-sanctioned prayer into its schools" (Brown v. Gilmore, 2001). Today students in Tennessee public schools observe a moment of silence. Students decide for themselves what they will do during the moment of silence without guidance, suggestion, or interference from teachers. The moment of silence resulted from a 1982 federal district court ruling that struck down a Tennessee law that mandated a moment of silence to be used for “. . . meditation, prayer, or personal beliefs” (Kaminer, 2002) Wallace v. Jaffrey is the only case that the Supreme Court has heard on a moment of silence in schools. The case contested an Alabama law that established a moment of silence for the purpose 8
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 of “meditation or voluntary prayer” (Wallace v. Jaffrey, 1985). The Court found that the statute was unconstitutional because it was enacted solely for the purpose of promoting religion in schools. The majority opinion found that any statute establishing a moment of silence that included the word “prayer” was unconstitutional. The dissenting opinion stated that such statutes could be constitutional. “According to Justice O’Connor, the crucial question was whether the statue conveyed the message to a reasonable, objective observer that prayer was a favored activity” (Wallace v. Jaffrey, 1985). The court said that the law promoted religion and that students would understand that the expectation was for them to participate in religious activities. In 2002, twenty nine states had laws permitting or mandating a moment of silence in public schools. Of those, 18 did not mention prayer, and 11 specifically mentioned prayer (Kaminer, 2002) The Christian Right The 1980s saw the emergence of the Christian Right. The Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition organized and mobilized conservative Christian Americans to impact American politics. These groups encouraged Christians to vote on value-based issues. Cilbulka and Myers (2008) argued that the Christian Right used fear as a political tactic. They cited a variety of literature that discussed fundamentalist fear tactics in American politics as early as 1830 regarding anti-Catholicism, and most recently as an explanation of the United States post-911 policies (Cilbulka, & Myers, 2008). Until the 1980s voters who eventually joined the Christian right were leery of getting involved in politics because they accepted and believed in the separation of church and state. Only when liberalism threated the very core of their beliefs about God, the Bible, family, marriage, and creationism did they become politically active. Two factors escalated their power and influence. As fundamentalist religious groups organized and eventually became a powerful advocacy group capable of influencing government, they aligned themselves with the Republican Party. Ultimately, the Christian Right voted their own into national offices, influenced presidential campaigns and administrations, and influenced congressional elections (Cilbulka & Myers, 2008). Cilbulka and Myers (2008) described the politics of the Christian Right as sincere based upon a “preexisting belief system, grounded in biblical literalism, that tends not to change throughout time” (p. 156), and lacking a quondam complex. “The quondam complex is a group of people uniting for a political purpose because their economic or political status has been usurped” (Lipset & Raab, 1970, as cited in Cilbulka & Myers, p. 156). However, the literature is clear that although the political rhetoric of the Christian Right is based upon long-standing fundamentalist beliefs, it is considered dangerous because it is driven by substantive rationality. “Substantive rationality ‘proclaims that action is preferable which enhances human dignity by stoic adherence to duty, regardless of the posible pain and suffering involved’” (Aho, 1990 as cited in Cilbulka & Myers, p. 157). Cilbulka and Myers (2008) characterized the Christian Right as voraciously committed to keeping the school prayer issue at the front of their grassroots political base. The influence of the Christian Right reached all the way to the White House. President Ronald Regan wanted prayer returned to schools and in 1982 proposed an amendment to allow prayer in public schools as well as any government institution. The proposed amendment stated: “Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayer” (Stone, p. 826). 9
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 By 2008 school prayer was ingrained into the Republican National Committee platform. “We will energetically assert the right of students to engage in voluntary prayer in schools and to have equal access to school facilities for religious purposes” (Committee On Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention, p. 43). Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated, “I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards” (Mike Huckabee, GOP candidate for president, January 2008, as cited in Lugg & Robinson, p. 242). Government Support of Prayer in Schools President Bill Clinton commissioned the development of a statement of principles on religion in schools. The resulting document was entitled Religious Expression in Public Schools. The document was created in collaboration with “. . . many diverse groups representing the entire political spectrum and reflect a developing consensus on many key issues” (Riley, p. 15). The first two principles specifically addressed school prayer. One principle addressed student prayer and religious discussion and defended students’ First Amendments rights to participate in both secular and religious activities at school, read religious scriptures, and pray. The principle stated that while schools may not impose religion on students, they may not discriminate against religious activities (Riley, 1996). Generally, students may pray in a nondisruptive manner when not engaged in school activities or instruction, and subject to the rules that normally pertain in the applicable setting. Specifically, students in informal settings, such as cafeterias and hallways, may pray and discuss their religious views with each other, subject to the same rules of order as apply to other student activities and speech. Students may also speak to, and attempt to persuade, their peers about religious topics just as they do with regard to political topics. School officials, however, should intercede to stop student speech that constitutes harassment aimed at a student or a group of students. (Riley, p. 15) A second principle addressed graduation and baccalaureate ceremonies stating that schools must abide by the Supreme Court’s decision to refrain from endorsing or mandating prayer at graduation ceremonies, but must make school facilities available to religious groups as they are to other groups (Riley, 1996). The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) gave school leaders a longer leash regarding issues relating to the First Amendment. The United States Department of Education released a document in 2003 clarifying NCLB Section 9524. The document proclaimed the constitutionality of prayer in public schools and required every public school district or public school academy to declare in writing that it had no policies preventing prayer as a condition of receiving funds under the law. Funding could be revoked for failure to submit the required documentation (Edmonson, 2006). Taking a Stand Those who challenge the religious norm may suffer consequences for taking a stand. In 10
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Mississippi in 1996, a Lutheran family sued the Pontotoc County School District when, after the family objected to the Protestant practices of the school, a teacher put headphones on their first grader so that she would not have to hear the daily Christian prayer reading. The children were “intimidated, harassed, and ostracized by their classmates. They were called ‘devil worshippers’ and worse. The parents, like other parents in other school cases, suffered death threats, firebombings, and the loss of their jobs.” (Wakefield, p. 2). The U.S. District Court for the Northern district of Mississippi found the school’s practices unconstitutional based upon the Establishment Clause. In his written opinion Judge Neal Biggers stated, “The Bill of Rights was created to protect the minority from tyranny by the majority. . . . To say that the majority should prevail simply because of its numbers is to forget the purpose of the Bill of Rights" (Wakefield, p. 2). In 1998, New York City school teacher Mildred Rosario refused to stop praying with her students in her classroom. Because she would not cease religious activities in her classroom, she was fired. Opponents of school prayer expressed their belief that such religious activity in school exploited a young impressionable audience (Romanish, 2003). The consequences for Doe (Doe v. Duncanville ISD) included verbal harassment from both fellow students and teachers. She was forced to watch and listen to her coach and teammates pray (Bennett & Foldsey, 2008). “At one point during her history class, Doe's history teacher referred to her as a 'little atheist'” (Doe v. Duncanville ISD, par. 1). When the Superintendent of Soddy-Daisy banned pre-game prayer citing the Supreme Court’s decision finding such prayer unconstitutional, students at the Tennessee school who wanted to maintain the prayer tradition took matters into their own hands. They launched an Internet campaign via Facebook and Twitter, sold T-shirts, and accepted donations in addition to soliciting the assistance of religious liberty organizations to promote their cause. "I don't want to go around the law, I want to go right through it. I want this completely overturned," said 17-yearold Shelton Brown, a Soddy-Daisy High School senior and creator of the Facebook page "Keep Prayer at Soddy Daisy High School" (Gauthier, 2010). Conclusion What began as a fight over which Bible and what kind of prayer to allow in schools, ultimately resulted in neither being allowed. Supreme Court decisions provide insight into the debate against school prayer. Because of the various Court rulings on the school prayer issue, students today may practice a moment of silence during the school day as long as they are not required to use that time for prayer. However, they may not engage in any kind of religious speech as part of an official school event during, before, or after the school day (Epley, 2007). Additionally, the Court has determined that schools are required to allow religious groups the same opportunities as secular groups in regard to the distribution of literature and use of facilities. However, religious groups may not under any circumstance distribute any literature for the singular purpose of proselytizing (Epley, 2007). Americans in favor of school prayer support their stance arguing violation of the First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The influence of the Christian 11
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Right in American politics and evidence of some government support of voluntary prayer in public schools highlights the pro-prayer side of the debate. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attempted to restore voluntary prayer to the nationâ€™s schools. However, the most fundamental issue in the school prayer debate is the idea of governmentimposed religion. When all of the emotion on both sides is removed, fundamentally neither side supports a national religion. It is important to remember that the United States exists today because the founders sought to live in a country free from government interference, especially concerning religion.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 References Americans United. (2011, June 28). Americans United asks Texas public school district to stop imposing religion on students at graduation. Secular News Daily. Retrieved from http://www.secularnewsdaily.com/2011/06/28/americans-united-asks-texas-publicschool-district-to-stop-imposing-religion-on-students-at-graduation/ Bauchman v. West High School, 132 F.3d 542 (U.S.Tenth Circuit, 1997) Bathija, S.(2011, June 1). Unfair and unbalanced: Fox news offers one side of grad prayer story. Secular News Daily. Retrieved from http://www.secularnewsdaily.com/2011/06/02/ unfair-and-unbalanced-fox-news-offers-one-side-of-grad-school-prayer-story-in-medinavalley/ Bennett, T. & Foldesy, G. (2008). “Our father in heaven”: A legal analysis of the recitation of the Lord ’s Prayer by public school coaches. Clearing House, 81(4). Retrieved from http://heinonline.org Brown v. Gilmore, 278 F.3d 362 (2002). Cibulka, J. G. & Myers, N. (2008). American politics fearful reformers: The institutionalization of the Christian right in American politics. Educational Policy, 8(22). doi: 10.1177/0895904807311301 Committee On Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention. (2008). 2008 Republican Platform. Retrieved from http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/ 2008platform.pdf Davis, M. (2009). Religion, democracy and the public schools. Journal of Law & Religion, 25(49). Retrieved on line at http://heinonline.org Doe v. Duncanville Independent School District, 70 F.3d 402 (1995). Edmonson, S. (2006). Prayer in public schools: Superintendents’ policies and practices. Catalyst for Change, 34(2). Epley, B. G. (2007). The Establishment Clause and public schools in the 21st century. NASSP Bulletin, 91(3). Engle v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962). Freedom from Religion Foundation. (2011, July 11). Fire and brimstone delivered at public graduation. Secular News Daily. Retrieved from http://www.secularnewsdaily.com/ 2011/07/11/fire-and-brimstone-delivered-at-public-graduation/ Gauthier, K. (October 22nd, 2010). School prayer ban ignites backlash. Timesfreepress.com. Retrieved online at http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2010/oct/22/school-prayer-ban13
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 ignites-backlash/?local Green, S. K. (2009). All things not being equal. University of California, Davis, 42:843. Retrieved online at http://heinonline.org Jaffrey v. Wallace, 472 U.S. 38 (1985). Kaminer, D. (2002). Bring organized prayer in through the back door: How moment of silence legislation for the public schools violates the Establishment Clause. Stanford Law & Policy Review, 13.2. Retrieved online at http://heinonline.org Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 508 U.S. 385, (1993). Lannie, V. P. & Diethorn, B. C. (1968). For the honor and glory of god: The Philadelphia bible riots of 1840. History of Education Quarterly, 8(1). Retrieved online at http://www. jstor.org/stable/366986 Lee, Robert W. (2000). Do public schools have a prayer? New American, 16(26). Lemon v. Kurtzman, 411 U.S. 192 (1973). Liva, E. A. (2009). Even silence has no prayer: The third circuit sacks coach’s silent team prayer in Borden v School District of East Brunswisk. Villanova Law Review, 54. Retrieved online at http://heinonline.org Lugg, C. A. & Robinson, M. N. (2009). Schooling religion, advocacy coalitions, and the politics of U.S. public schooling. Educational Policy, 23. doi: 10.1177/0895904808328527 Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984). Mawdsley, R. D. (2001). Let us pray? Principal Leadership, (1)8. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948). Mead, J. F., Green, P. C. & Oluwole, J. O. (2007). Re-examining the constitutionality of prayer in school in light of the resignation of Justice O’Connor. Journal of Law Education, 36(3) Moore, D. (2005). Public favors voluntary prayer for public schools. Gallup. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/18136/public-favors-voluntary-prayer-public-schools.aspx Regan, R. (May 17, 1982) President's Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation, 18 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 664, 665. Riley, R. W. (1996). Religion and public schools. South Carolina Lawyer, 8(15) Retrieved from http://heinonline.org Romanish, B. (2003). Prayer, Football, and Public Education. Educational Studies (34)1.
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Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, (2000). School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963). Stone, G. R. (1983). In opposition to the school prayer amendment. University of Chicago Law Review, 50. U. S. Constitution, Bill of Rights. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/ bill_of_rights_transcript.html Wakefield, P. (2006). First amendment freedom in schools those who stand for church-state separation. Individual Rights and Responsibilities, American Bar Association.
Karla Burkholder is the Director of Instructional Technology at Northwest ISD in Justin, Texas. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Nova Southeastern University. KBurkholder@nisdtx.org
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Perception of Family Literacy Among Immigrant Families Mary Alfred Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development Texas A&M University Feyi Obamehinti Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture Texas A&M University This research was supported and funded by the Barbara Bush Foundation. Abstract In the United States, an estimated 30 million people over the age of 16, read at the level of the average elementary school child (ProLiteracy, 2011). Internationally, an estimated 800 million adults are illiterate in their native languages, with two-thirds of them being women (ProLiteracy, 2011). The ability to read and write is the basis for all other education. Literacy is vital to solving most societal ills; among these are elevated dropout rates, poverty, gender inequality, and health issues. These problems are pronounced within immigrant groups who have low literacy rates. The perception of literacy among U.S. immigrants offers an insight into their belief systems about education and learning. This insight, in turn, is helpful when planning future adequate program and services which promote early literacy among immigrant families. This study investigated the perceptions of family literacy among a group of Black Refugee immigrant families who are non-English speakers.
Introduction The “Perception of Family Literacy Among Immigrant Families” research study highlights Sudanese-centered sensitivities about teaching and learning as they relate to the United States, their present country of residence. There is no doubt these acuities of literacy vastly differ from those in their host country. The perception of literacy among Black Immigrant families who are non-English speakers poses a dilemma to our general educational system. Black immigrant families bring their cultures and ideologies about every area of life. Gallimore and Goldenberg (2001) explained cultural models of immigrant families as a “shared mental schema or normative understanding of how the world works, or ought to work.” Cultural models encode shared environmental and event interpretations, what is valued and ideal, what settings should be enacted and avoided, who should participate, the roles of interaction, and the purpose of the interactions (D'Andrade, 1995; Holland & Quinn, 1987; Shore, 1996; Weisner, 1984). By 16
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 understanding the perceptions of Black refugee immigrants coupled with correctly identifying the relationship of previous research to the planned investigation is a strong validation of this study potentially making a valuable contribution. Conceptual Framework The theoretical basis for understanding this research is rooted in the social cognitive theory. Social cognitive theory originated from Albert Bandura (1989), a social psychologist who believes in explaining how people acquire and maintain certain behavioral patterns while providing effective intervention strategies. According to Wood and Bandara (1989), maintaining certain behavioral patterns is defined as “self-efficacy” which refers to beliefs in one’s capabilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to meet situational demands. Through this theory, the perception of family literacy by immigrants can be discovered along with the diverse opinions of American standards of family literacy can be addressed with appropriate interventions. Literature Review Level Access: Due to the lack of public awareness about insights on literacy among refugee groups, a peculiar predicament has been created that places not only immigrant children at a disadvantage, but also the entire community. In Leveling the Playing Field: Supporting Immigrant Children from Birth to Eight, Takanishi (2004) presents the challenge which arises among migrant offspring when family literacy is absent. Consequently, there is the need to level access of educational services for these individuals. The limitation of existing data concerning the assessment of family literacy among Black Refugee immigrant families validates the significance of investigating this research area. For some time now, literacy brokering, which is the “complex activity that may involve one aspect of a text, such as translation of word meanings, mediation of cultural content, or explanation of genre aspects of a printed text, or may involve many of these aspects all at once,” has become a beneficial literacy tool among many immigrant groups. Studies on literacy brokering indicate how children of immigrants provide mediation of cultural content by translating content to parents and providing valuable literacy support for their parents and families. This support often involves sophisticated language, skills, as well as knowledge (Orellana, Reynolds, Dorner, & Meza, 2003). Even though literacy brokering is becoming a common practice among immigrants as they seek informal help with unfamiliar texts and erudite practices (Perry, 2009), the issue of family literacy has not been addressed thoroughly among Black refugee immigrants. Home and School Synergy: The connection between home and school is irrefutably vital to the success of literacy. Among immigrant families, culture dictates how connections are made and perceived. In a study conducted by Dudley-Marling (2009) of 18 African-American and 14 immigrant English as a Second Language parents living in two large urban centers in the northeastern United States, parent views of nine school-to-home literacy initiatives affected their 17
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 respective literacy practices in the home through limited understanding of literacy practices. Furthermore, St. Jean Barry (2009) attests to the fact that in order for learning to be effective in many immigrant families, it is imperative to link studentsâ€™ culture and perspective.
Literacy and Empowerment: Some immigrant families are lacking in empowerment and guidance on literacy. One of the ways to empower immigrant families is to break the barrier of intimidation that many immigrants feel towards institutions by creating an atmosphere where immigrant families can feel comfortable to embrace all access of literacy (DaSilva, 2005). The general findings about literacy research centralize on the fact that arrival in the United States most of the time does not promise immediate access to literacy. Many immigrants live in the United States for years as illiterates despite the fact that they learn to speak very fast English very quickly. Their illiteracy is demonstrated in their inability to find jobs to support their families. However with assertive determination, immigrants can learn how to read and write in a short period of time. According to Miller (2005), the experience of living without literacy in the United States is a hindrance to completing personal and professional objectives. In her study, she captured the story of a young Somali woman who was nineteen years old and illiterate. Although she spoke English fluently, her lack of literacy was an obstacle in securing a job to provide for herself and her young son. The woman was embarrassed by activities she was not capable of doing; however she still held lofty goals for her life, which included receiving her GED and starting a center for abused Somali women. The Somali woman asserted that if she concentrated, she could learn to read and write in one or two months. (Miller, 2005). The aforementioned narrative impeccably defines the determination possessed by the majority of immigrants. Literacy and Second Language Learners: Within brick and mortar schools, there is an urgency when instructing language-minority students to read and write well in English. This urgency centers around the fact that English literacy is essential to, not only, achievement in academia but also educational and economic opportunities beyond formal schooling (August and Shanahan, 2006). An indication of this pressure is present among Somali refugees who typically have little or no education from their home country due to civil war, absence of scholastic opportunities in refugee camps, or the fact their native tongue did not have any written form until 1972. These factors contribute to the high number of illiterates among Somali refugees who have a rigorous road to learning while living here in the United States (Bigelow, 2007). Research in the area of literacy is contributing towards an enhanced understanding of how to address the quandary of illiteracy among immigrant families. One aspect that has been neglected in understanding literacy is the link between phonetics and literacy. Curtis and Kruidenier (2005) offered a comprehensive and useful review of research on adults learning to read in their home 18
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 language. â€œCertain aspects of the ability to deal with phonetic units of speech are not acquired spontaneously, but are the result of learning to readâ€? (Castro-Caldas, Petersson, Reis, StoneElander, & Ingvar, 1998, p. 1053). Furthermore, learning to read in a familiar language has neurological advantages as well since the brain capacities of adults who are initially learning to read do not process the sounds of the novel language clearly (Kuhl, 2000). Significance and Purpose Despite the severity of low literacy among Black refugees, this group has not received as much attention in family literacy circles as other ethnic groups. The bulk of literature is focused on Latino immigrants with a modicum of research on Black immigrant and non-immigrant families. Although this study examined perception of family literacy among Black refugee immigrant families, issues pertaining to perceptions of family literacy are pertinent to other immigrant groups living here in the United States. Founded on the significance of family literacy among Black refugee immigrant families, the purpose of this scholarly article is to provide a grasp on how ethnicity could influence acculturation, as well as be a determinant of the quality of life an immigrant family will lead in the United States. The questions which guided the study are as follows: How do non-English speaking African refugee families perceive family literacy? How does culture influence the perception of family literacy among African refugee families? What interventions are effective in promoting family literacy practices among refugee families? Studying the attitudes of family literacy among Black refugee immigrants provides a window of opportunity for comprehending the role culture plays in intergenerational illiteracy. This opportunity for understanding the role of culture will allow educational community organizations and family literacy advocates to be better equipped to design, develop, and implement family literacy programs and activities to address the unique needs of family literacy for Black refugee immigrant families. Furthermore, by learning about these perceptions among Black refugee immigrants, family literacy advocates will be better prepared in designing literacy curricula that addresses the different cultural perception. Not only will the outcome of this research impact adults but also the children involved in adequately preparing them to enter school reading, writing and communicating orally. The ultimate result is both literacy circles and the public schools where the children of the families attend will be the beneficiaries of the outcome. Research Design Since the study sought to investigate immigrant opinions about family literacy, an ethnographic approach was apropos. (Bernard, 2002). The methodology utilized in this research study was qualitative. This qualitative ethnographic approach allowed for the observation of Black refugee 19
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 non-English speaking immigrants in the natural context of their daily lives, such as how they work, play and live. Ten families units consisting of a father, mother, and at least two young children between the ages of two and seven participated in the study. Through an interview instrument, observations, and notes, a thorough account was gained, supplemented by firsthand interactions with members. In order to recognize the distinctive experiences of the participants, it was necessary to communicate directly with respondents (via translators) regarding their take on family literacy practices. In addition to the responses of participants to the interview questions, home environment interactions provided a broader context of the participantsâ€™ lives and a more comprehensive way to the data collection and analysis. As a researcher, the procedure of implementing basic interpretive and descriptive qualitative approaches helped to categorize the cultural elements that shaped their outlook on family literacy, making the strategy inductive, and the outcome descriptive (Merriam & Associates, 2002). Participants and Study Context Altruistic institutions across the United States grant a means of assistance for people in various situations and aspects of life. Refugee families are a congregation that frequently obtain succor. A local benevolent organization was employed in order to gain access to participants for this study. The participants in this study were Dinka refugees from southern Sudan residing in the North Texas area. Sudan is a large country, the size of the eastern United States, spanning from the Mississippi River to Maine. If not for being situated along the length of the Nile and its tributaries, Sudan would almost be a desert except for a few coastal regions. Traditionally, there has always been a northern Sudan along with a southern Sudan. Southern Sudan is a sizable, arid territory, undeveloped by Western standards, with a solitary railroad running from the north to south. The Dinka people inhabit the swampland of the largest ethnic groups region of the Nile Basin. They have been on the move for over 25 years due to uprooting from their homeland from invaders native to the north of Sudan. Prior to colonization by the British, the Dinkas lived relatively undisturbed. They did not live in permanent villages, but traveled in family groups living in temporary homesteads with their cattle. During the war which pushed millions of Dinkas from their ancestral lands, cows were decimated and their semipastoral way of life was disrupted. The key civil war has been an ongoing 18 year genocidal struggle between the northern government, which is predominantly Arab Muslim, and the African Christian south. The north in its efforts to force a national religion conducted an unrelenting religious war to force the issue. As a result of the war two million people have died in the conflict with many (especially women and children) sold into slavery to the northern Sudan Muslims. With the involvement of the United Nations and the U.S. many Dinkas have been rescued from refugee camps in northern Sudan and brought to America for a new start of life. 20
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Each participant had to meet the following selection criteria; refugee from southern Sudan, living in the U.S. for less than three years, with young children not yet enrolled in preschool or early education programs, cannot read and write English in their homeland or in refugee camps, and speak the Dinka language fluently. The foremost reason for selecting refugees from southern Sudan was the extreme hardship of civil war and limited academic tutelage the southern Sudanese characteristically have compared to those hailing from other Sudanese regions. Method and Timeline of Events The study commenced with an orientation meeting, including the translators, at a centralized location in the Dallas, Texas area. Expectations and purpose of the study were explained. The timeline for the entire study was established and each translator received information about his/her role during the study. The next step was to meet with the 15 potential families for introduction, establish expectations, explain purpose of study and answer questions. After this meeting, ten interested families confirmed their participation in the study, two families withdrew and three families remained undecided up until the day of orientation. Orientation for the 10 families was then conducted. These 10 families completed consent forms (parent consent for children 0-8 years old and adult consent form). Four translators were available to translate to families in the Dinka language. After the orientation meeting, the families were divided up into four groups and paired with a specific translator for the duration of the study. The next step was the main instrument of the research. Participants were interviewed using a highly structured questionnaire (30 questions; Questions 1-25 were multiple choice, while Questions 26-30 were open ended questions). Parents were interviewed individually in Dinka language and answers were recorded. Each translator had an audio recorder to use with each interviewed participant. Children ages 4-8 were also interviewed and recorded. The analysis of the interview responses began immediately. The translators transcribed the recorded messages from Dinka into English. Secondly, the transcribed responses were typed for each participant into an Excel spreadsheet. Eleven patterns were identified from the responses which prepared the framework for an effective intervention. The patterns offered information about perception of family literacy among the refugee families, one that was different from what is generally known here in the U.S. Interventions The results of the analysis paved the way into the intervention phrase. Each family received a tote bag that was filled with the following books: 1 Mannyâ€™s Tool Belt 1 Moving Circles 21
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 1 ABC Disney-An Alphabet Pop-Up 1 Look, Baby! 1 Tron Legacy-Into the Light 1 Meet the Gang 1 Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure- A Friend Indeed 1 Grammar Wheel (hands-on sentence tool) A general orientation of the content of the tote bag was conducted. Families received instruction on how to use the Look Baby book to generate family literacy activities in the home. Examples were given to families of speaking to babies to allow them to acquire â€œwordsâ€?. Parents were encouraged to practice speaking English in the home. The myth of not talking to babies was brought up as a question by one of the families. Many African countries believe it is foolish to talk to babies since they cannot respond. This myth has been passed down from one generation to another. It is believed that this myth has greatly contributed to the decreased literacy rates rampant in many African countries. Children learn how to read and write at a mature age, sometimes at age 10 or older. The issue of the myth was addressed and dispelled; in addition to modeling the appropriate literacy behavior of how to read to babies. Following this modeling session, families received one-on-one training from the designer of the grammar wheel on how to construct simple sentences at home. Participants had a chance to practice how to use the grammar wheel and role-played with each other. Families received instruction on follow up activities in the home for the rest of the week. The second day of the intervention phase of the study began with a review of the homework assignment given from the previous week. All ten families were present in addition to the translators. Each family read books to their children and four families worked on constructing sentences using the grammar wheels. Families then received group instruction on how to create a Language Rich Home using homemade visuals. Families learned about words associated with topics common in the home. They learned about: Grocery list words: Bread, eggs, milk, apple, peanut butter, jelly, banana, cheese etc. Kitchen words: Pot, frying pan, hand-towel, knife, fork, spoon, plate, stove etc. Bathroom words: Towel, soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, mouthwash, comb, brush etc. School words: Crayon, pen, pencil, eraser, markers, notebook, school bus, lunch box etc. To create visuals, participants demonstrated their understanding of what was modeled to them with construction paper. Every participant wrote a word in a category at the top and drew the picture to accompany the word. After completing the visuals for a specific topic, participants received instructions on how to display the visuals in their home. Using a tape, participants can display the visual in a central location in the home where everyone can easily see them. The visuals stay on the wall for at least one week and another set of visuals on another topic replaces the previous one. The visuals become a practice guide for children to discover new words and acquire an expansive vocabulary enabling them to write sentences and short stories.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Example from grocery list words is below: APPLE.
On the concluding day of the intervention, families created lists of words to engage their children. Families shared how confident they are now about helping their young ones with homework. Furthermore, families learned how to foster writing in the home through a newspaper activity. Each family received a page from a previously published issue of a newspaper, a highlighter, and a piece of paper. Families were directed to find 10 words they knew and practice explaining the meanings to their children without any aid like a dictionary. After selecting the 10 words, each family wrote out the words on the piece of paper and took turns in reading their lists and meanings out loud to the group. The final step was to take the 10 words and create a story with the words either in a paragraph or few sentences. The goal of this activity was to bring awareness to specific word recognition, promote creativity involved in the writing process, and present the art of writing as enjoyable. Families were encouraged to take the newspapers so as to have the materials needed to practice writing in the household. The final day of the study was intended for: Reflection to gather information on the progress families have made since the beginning of the study. Assessment of what their perception about family literacy is compared to when they began the study. (In other words, participants explained how their feelings have changed about family literacy since the beginning of the program). Three key concepts they have learned during this study that has altered their lifestyle (the grammar wheel session, language rich home session and developing writing activities using newspaper session). The essence of these interventions was to empower the families and enable an independent literacy practice which would cultivate a continuous learning experience in the home. The following independent literacy practices were shared with the families: Read aloud to children at least once a day. Make a pattern with objects around the home such as buttons, beads or small colored cubes. Play a matching game such as concentration. Retell a favorite story to a family member. Visit a library weekly.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Draw or scribble on paper. The benefits of these interventions validate the importance of the study and thus place both the participants and our entire American society at an advantage. Data Together with, the intervention described above, face-to-face interviews via translators fluent both the Sudanese Dinka language and English were conducted with the families. The interviews took place at the participants place of worship in a collegial style (Bergen, 1993). Each member of the families participated in giving responses to the interview questions. The data analysis was done synchronously (Merriam, 2009). The collection, analysis and report writing are interrelated and were done concurrently (Merriam, 1998; Creswell, 2007). A thematic analysis was useful to analyze the various perceptions participants had about family literacy through their answers to the survey questions practices. Participants responded to thirty questions about literacy practices ranging from their background knowledge of literacy, perception of family literacy and practices in their home environment. The analysis indicated all ten families needed interventions based on their different perceptions about family literacy as residents in the US context. Intervention provided comprised of a storysack (tote bag filled with seven story books and a grammar wheel) reading, writing, oral language exercises and activities over a period of six weeks in their home environment. Findings The analysis of the study showed patterns that confirmed the different perceptions about family literacy from US context. From the percentage of home time devoted to reading, it indicated that reading was not a priority or a lifestyle for the families. Ninety percent of the families spend 1024 percent devoted to reading. Concurrently, participants believed that reading to their young children (especially babies) was a violation of their cultural belief system that denounces reading to babies because of their inability to respond back. Book and educational activities were not common practice in 80 percent of the families growing up. This was an indicator of the possibility of carrying-over background experiences to their current lifestyles as a resident of the United States. Further analysis revealed 90 percent of the families had never read a newspaper or magazine while in their home country; an indicator of the lack of literacy prior to arriving in the United States. Eighty percent of the families had never had books and educational activities as common practice in their families growing up in addition to never using words that were important to school work, such as the names for colors, shapes, and numbers due to living in refugee camps where educational activities were minimal.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Additionally, what participants considered important family literacy practice as they understood the meaning was different from U.S. context of family literacy. Participants understood family literacy practice as the need to help their children with homework as opposed to the multigenerational educational approach of adult literacy education for parents, pre-literacy or literacy instruction for their young children and interactive literacy activities that promote reading, writing and oral language skills. The findings suggest congruence with the literature that family literacy among immigrants is directly linked to their cultural backgrounds (St. Jean Barry 2009). Overall, the findings indicated Black refugee non-English speaking immigrants perceive family literacy differently, culture influenced the different perceptions of family literacy and interventions of reading, writing and oral language exercises were effective in engaging the families to foster a lifestyle of family literacy practice in the home. Discussion The study suggests that Black refugee non-English speaking immigrant families perceive family literacy differently than what is commonly defined in literary circles here in the United States. Culture possessed a significant influence in the participantsâ€™ perception of family literacy. Interventions in the form of reading, writing and oral activities involving the whole family were effective in engaging and fostering family literacy practices among the participants. In other words, provided the appropriate interventions, inaccurate perceptions in family literacy can be corrected using targeted resources. The ultimate result is that the young children between the ages of one to seven in these families will not be behind in oral, written and reading skills when they enroll in school. These children will benefit in school having already acquired strong readiness skills. Overall, having a good family literacy practice could translate into the following: Young children will be well prepared to succeed in school and become better citizens. These young children will earn more, pay more taxes and commit fewer crimes. They will not drop out of school and at least 50% of them will be college ready. These children are more likely to have a savings account and a higher percentage of home-ownership. These children also have the probability of fewer lifetime arrests or fewer months in prison or jail. Implications The implication of this study to women executives in literacy circles and K-12 schools is the awareness it brings of the responsibility in providing accessible pre-literacy programs in immigrant communities. Numerous literacy initiatives are championed by women, as exemplified by Mrs. Barbara Bush in establishing the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy that ensures the development of family literacy programs. Within the U.S. context, full participation in the society as a productive citizen is really dependent on literacy. Accessibility of pre-literacy program is a benefit for all and not just immigrant communities. 25
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Limitations This study had some limitations that affected the overall outcome. Firstly, it was difficult to recruit all 10 families together at the same time on week days. Weekends were scheduled as the best time for all families to attend. Also, some of the men had to go to work on weekends. This meant that, some of the men attended the beginning part of the meetings, while their wives and children completed the meetings. Another limitation was language barrier. Despite the fact that there were translators, there was a barrier due to generalizations during the translation process. Finally, the language of the interview questions was too technical for some of the families to understand. Translators were unable to explain word-for-word some of the technical questions in the Dinka language. Conclusion This study suggests a direct correlation between culture and perception of family literacy among the participants of this study. The Black refugee non-English speaking immigrant families were not involved in literacy practices back in Sudan and continued such practices of illiteracy here in US. Moreover, these cultural literacy practices did not translate into American family literacy practices which are reading, writing and oral skills. With the provided interventions, the families were more aware of the need to engage in family literacy practices with their young children, hence ensuring that their young children will be well prepared to succeed in school. The way literacy is defined determines how people with or without literacy are perceived. In summary the essence of conducting an ethnographical study provided the freedom to investigate the perception of family literacy among Black refugees. Also, the approach provided the best option to examine the belief system and influence of culture on family literacy among Black refugees.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 References August, D., & Shanahan, T. (Eds.). (2006). Executive summary: Developing literacy in second-language learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Retrieved from http://www.cal.org/projects/archive/nlpreports/executive_summary.pdf Bigelow, M. (2007). Social and cultural capital at school: The case of a Somali teenage girl with limited formal schooling. In N. R. Faux (Ed.), Low-educated adult second language and literacy acquisition proceedings of symposium (pp. 7–22). Richmond, VA: Literacy Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University. Castro-Caldas, A., Petersson, K. M., Reis, A., Stone-Elander, S., & Ingvar, M. (1998). The illiterate brain: Learning to read and write during childhood influences the functional organization of the adult brain. Brain and Language, 121(6), 1053–1063. Castro-Caldas, A. (2004). Targeting regions of interest for the study of the illiterate brain. International Journal of Psychology, 39(1), 5–17. Condelli, L., Wrigley, H. S., & Yoon, K. (2002). What works study for adult ESL literacy students: Study summary. San Mateo, CA: American Institutes for Research. Creswell, J. W. and D. L. Miller (2000). Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory into Practice 39 (3), 124-131. Curtis, M. E., & Kruidenier, J. R. (2005). Teaching adults to read. Washington, DC: Partnership for Reading. Retrieved from www.nifl.gov/partnershipforreading/publications/html/teach_adults/teach_adults.html DaSilva Iddings, A. C. (2005). A time and place for literacy: A welcoming center for recent immigrants to American schools. Tennessee’s Children: The Journal of the Tennessee Association on Young Children, 1(1), 30–34. DaSilva Iddings, A. C. (2009). Bridging home and school literacy practices: Empowering families of recent immigrant children. Theory into Practice, (48), 304 –311. Dirkx, J. M. (2006). Studying the complicated matter of what works: Evidence-based research and the problem of practice. Adult Education Quarterly, 56(4), 273–290. Dudley-Marling, C. (2000). A family affair: When school troubles come home. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Dudley-Marling, C. (2009). Home–school literacy connections: The perceptions of African American and immigrant ESL parents in two urban communities. Teachers College Record, 111(7), 1713–1752.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Francis, D. J., Lesaux, N., & August, D. (2006). Language of instruction. In D. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.), Developing literacy in second-language learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth (pp. 365–413). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Center for Applied Linguistics. Koda, K. (2004). Insights into second language reading: A cross-linguistic approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Kuhl, P. (2000). A new view of language acquisition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 97(11), 850–857. Menard-Warwick, J. (2005). Intergenerational trajectories and sociopolitical context: Latina immigrants in adult ESL. TESOL Quarterly, 39(2), 165–185. Miller, K. (2005, April 9). Reading between the lines. Star Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/11481491.html Orellana, M.F., Reynolds, J., Dorner, L., & Meza, M. (2003). In other words: Translating or "paraphrasing" as a family literacy practice in immigrant households. Reading Research Quarterly, 38(1), 12-34. Perry, K.H. (2008). From storytelling to writing: Transforming literacy practices among Sudanese refugees. Journal of Literacy Research, 40(3), 317-358. Perry, K.H. (2009). Genres, contexts, and literacy practices: Literacy brokering among Sudanese refugee families. Reading Research Quarterly, 44 (3), 256-276. ProLiteracy. (2011). The impact of literacy. Retrieved from http://www.proliteracy.org/page.aspx?pid=370 Rashmita, S.M., Biesanz, J.C., Chien, N., Howesc, C., & Benner, A. (2008). Socioeconomic status, parental investments, and the cognitive and behavioral outcomes of low-income children from immigrant and native households. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 16 (23), 193–212. Reyes, Iliana, (2006). Exploring connections between emergent biliteracy and bilingualism Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 6(3), 267-292. St. Jean Barry, P. (2009). Words on the wet paper: Exploring the lives and literacies of immigrant families (Doctoral dissertation). Hempstead, NY: Hofstra University. Takanishi, R. (2004). Leveling the playing field: Supporting immigrant children from birth to eight. The Future of Children, 14(2), 60-79. United States Census Bureau. (2009). National kids count program [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.aecf.org/MajorInitiatives/KIDSCOUNT.aspx 28
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Williams, A., & Chapman, L. (2008). Meeting diverse needs; content-based language teaching and settlement needs for low literacy adult ESL immigrants. In M. Young-Scholten, (Ed.), Low-educated adult second language and literacy acquisition: Proceedings of the third annual forum (49â€“60). New Castle-upon-Tyne, England: Newcastle University. Weisner, T. (1984). Ecocultural niches of middle childhood: A cross-cultural perspective. In W.A. Collins, Development during middle childhood: The years from six to twelve (335369). Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences Press Wood, R. E., & Bandura, A. (1989). Impact of conceptions of ability on self-regulatory mechanisms and complex decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 407-415.
Feyi Obamehinti is an educational consultant and a leading expert in ESL and minority education. She is a doctoral candidate at Texas A & M. firstname.lastname@example.org
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 A Narrative of Resiliency and Cultural Acceptance: Social Justice, Competition, and Quality Viewed through the Gendered Lens Dr. Wesley D. Hickey, Associate Professor University of Texas at Tyler Dr. Genie Linn, Associate Professor University of Texas at Tyler Dr. Vance Vaughn, Associate Professor University of Texas at Tyler
Abstract Cultural expectations of women often create challenges for women taking roles in educational leadership. This paper analyzes the trials of the first woman principal in a small village in Belize. This regionâ€™s cultural expectations of women created obstacles with her all male faculty and community members; however, she overcame these issues with an assertive approach that was honest and rational. Her challenges are similar to women principals in other parts of the world. The authors reflect on their experiences with womenâ€™s leadership in rural Texas and compare it to the interview conducted with the Belizean principal, concluding that cultural expectations of women can make administrative positions more difficult.
Introduction The principal has many roles, but they all revolve around being the educational leader of his/her school. This individual must address the myriad of issues that occur on any campus, from teacher ineffectiveness to student discipline. Effective leadership is contingent upon many factors, but one that is often overlooked is the cultural acceptance and expectations of the principal as leader. This acceptance may include race, age, or gender, and each has its own set of challenges. In an effort to understand the universality of the issues facing women in school leadership, this research shares the story of Rebecca, the first woman principal in a small Central American village. Using narrative inquiry we ask: What does Rebecca have to tell us about overcoming the challenges of cultural acceptance and expectations in a Central American country, and in what ways can we relate that message to the acceptance issues faced by women leaders in our school cultures as related to social justice, competition, and quality?
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Topic within the Context of the Literature Cultural Expectations and Acceptance This study does not posit itself with a feminist political agenda which can very quickly become mired in philosophical debates among radical, Marxist or psychoanalytic feminists. Instead we look to the sociologist perspective that gender is an element of social construct with defined, understood roles and behavior (Lorber, 1994). As such, cultural expectations according to socially understood roles for men and women restrict ready acceptance outside of the accepted norms and often impact the competition and quality of educational leaders. Not too long ago, women were nurses or teachers, and men were doctors and administrators. The changes in these perceptions came slowly, and those who led the way struggled. It does not matter what culture or nationality one examines, when men or women step outside of the expected roles, they face difficulties in organizational and social acceptance. Studies about women moving beyond the traditional roles range from Bangladesh administrators (Sparandio, 2011) to school superintendents and university leaders (Hernetky, 2010). Women educational leaders in Bangladesh benefitted the community welfare by allowing for a normalization of women in nontraditional roles in the rural village (Sparendio, 2011). Sparandio emphasized the significant need for sensitivity to cultural context while in the process of role transformations. Women have learned to embrace the culture while at the same time working to change it. Despite the progress that has been made in the number of women in school leadership, women leaders still come face-to-face with cultural expectations about a womanâ€™s role and encounter strong undercurrents of resistance by both men and women to accepting them in leadership roles. The significance of this information is not that the cultural expectations exist and result in consequent struggle for acceptance, but that many women persevere to overcome this adversity. These women are resilient in their promotion of equity and social justice (Christman & McClellan, 2008). Resiliency To successfully move in a role outside of the accepted and expected gender roles requires qualities attributed to resiliency theory. The most widely known study done by Werner and Smith (1979) spanned 30 years where researchers followed 200 at-risk children into adulthood. The research found that 72 children were doing fine and thus the study labeled and identified their characteristics of resiliency. Some of the significant factors of resiliency from that study included parental attitudes and support, an internal locus of control, competent communication skills, and work ethic. In a meta-analysis of resilience theory, Richardson (2002), documents numerous studies which have replicated the original research with similar outcomes and conclusions. Surprisingly, as well as relevant to this narrative inquiry, being female was a factor in the original study that held true in other studies. The resilient nature of strong women educational leaders provides an important characteristic for increasing social justice within their organizations. Women make a difference in education (Oram-Sterling, 2009; Mogadime, Mentz, Armstrong, & Holtam, 2010) through their experiences and ethic of care. Resiliency creates an increase in quality within the social justice initiative that is lacking if cultural expectations discourage women from leadership roles. The resilient nature of women is evident in all countries that are still evolving regarding the cultural 31
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 role of women in leadership, including the United States (Sherman, Beaty, Crum, & Peters, 2010). There is an apparent unfairness that women leaders must have a strength that is not required of men. Women leaders must be resilient enough to overcome stereotypes that are culturally embedded in order to both model and promote a socially just society. This resiliency from women leaders increases the quality of organizations through more competitive personnel selections and different perspectives. Method Narrative Inquiry In the tradition of qualitative research, narrative inquiry seeks to understand and know through what individual lives and stories tell us. “Narrative inquiry is stories lived and told” (Clandinin and Connelly, 1999, p. 20). Narrative is a both a research method and a means of reporting research. In this method, the researcher gathers, analyzes, and represents their personal stories. Narrative inquiry aims to share individual experiences within the natural setting of the individual (Clandinin and Connelly, 1999). Critical to this method is the role of the researcher who is an active participant in the process. The researcher’s own experiences and beliefs play a role as the accounts are restoried. Consequently the researcher is present in the reporting of this methodology. As an interesting twist to this study there are in fact two researchers present. Wes Hickey interviewed Rebecca, and Genie Linn entered the story in the analysis of Dr. Hickey’s transcripts and the ensuing dialogues. Therefore, the story is Rebecca’s story through the lens of the interviewer. Dr. Hickey, and fellow researcher, Dr. Vance Vaughn, bring the male view and understanding of women in leadership. There is also Dr. Linn’s perspective of the story retold and analyzed through the feminine lens of a school leader. The contrasting and paralleling views offer a multidimensional view of the same data. Background Narrative of the Interview In August of 2011, Dr. Hickey returned to Central America for the twelfth time as a volunteer within an international partnership. The main purpose of the trips was to assist with principal workshops. These workshops had principals entering the largest town in the region for five days in August with two follow-up meetings during the school year. This consistent assistance was important in the scaffolding of information. The principals had previously complained about the lack of continuity in their workshops. Having a consistent trainer helped provide for common strategies that could be built upon. Another benefit of multiple visits was building strong trusting relationships with the principals. Trust is not built with an introduction. Developing these strong relationships takes time embedded with honesty and kept promises. Dr. Hickey had known Rebecca for several years before he began to question her about challenges as an educational leader. There were a few women who led schools in the principal workshop, but Rebecca was unique. Rebecca was in a rural village within the Central American rain forest, and she was achieving success despite cultural challenges. There were several interviews with Rebecca during a visit during August 2011. 32
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Results Life in Central America The culture of Central America where Rebecca lives and works does not traditionally recognize women as leaders. Women are often married at a very young age, and they are expected to have children, cook, and generally support the family at the home. The men farm and hunt within the rain forest that provides enough food for these households where subsistence farming is the norm. There are few paying jobs in the village outside of teaching. This economic environment is representative of the majority of the region. The villages outside of the largest town (which has around 5,000 residents) are inhabited by an indigenous culture that subsists through traditional practices. There are dirt roads into many of the villages in the rain forest and bus transportation is available on most days. Many of the residents in the villages rarely interact with other cultures, and visits from strangers are rare enough to have children and adults step outside their huts to watch them pass by. The school in the village provides free primary education because the government provides the payment for the teachers. The principal of the school has full-time teaching duties in addition to administrative responsibilities. This means that he/she must develop other teachers, monitor attendance, address finance issues, and establish an effective discipline management plan while teaching throughout the day. Rebecca had these duties. She taught students and led teachers. This situation was challenging, but the fact that she was a woman added a different dynamic. The cultural expectations for woman in this part of Central America meant Rebeccaâ€™s leadership actions would be in constant question. Like other women leaders have found, she will have more to prove because she is a woman. Rebeccaâ€™s Story Rebecca is a school principal in an isolated village in Central America. Her story is valuable because of the lessons regarding the overcoming of challenges for women in leadership positions. This information, which came from multiple interviews with the subject during 2011, provides a unique lens into obstacles for women. This is particularly true for this Central American region that does not have a cultural expectation for women to become educational leaders. In the following interview segments, Rebecca tells her story. Not only do we learn about her leadership journey, we see elements of resiliency that have helped her to overcome the obstacles of cultural expectations and to counter the resistance to her acceptance. Education and Family Background Rebecca had the benefit of a high level of intelligence, as well as a father who was supportive of her academic endeavors. She stated: I was one of those students who worked fast and grasped the concept fast, so then my father was a principal and he [allowed me to do work ahead of my grade level]. And so when it was time to do the exam, the PSE [primary school examination] exam, he consulted with the district so they would send 33
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 the money to take the exam even though I was in the standard four. So they agreed and so I [took] the exam at the school. And I ended up getting the highest grade in school on that PSE. And so from there, he was then transferred to [another school] because in [current school] they did not have any bus for high school. So they had to move to [different school] so I could go to high school and I attended until I could go to college for four years. So at the age of 14, I was out of high school.
Rebecca’s strong intelligence was exhibited through her high school completion at the age of 14, but another important factor to her success was her supportive father. He was willing to get teachers to provide her higher level work, have the district pay for her primary school exit exam, and move to a school that was more conducive to her continuing into high school. Rebecca’s father challenged the cultural norms for women by making this move for his daughter’s education and career. Parental support and school success are significant elements of resiliency. These elements were critical in providing Rebecca with the courage to enter into a nontraditional role as a leader and the knowledge and wisdom to be successful. This stellar upward climb in school also was possible because Rebecca understood the importance of hard work, which is also a recognized element of resiliency. Throughout Rebecca’s story, these two elements are constant themes that support her success as a school principal. Work Experiences Rebecca went to college after spending one year at home because her father thought she was too young. Once starting college she did well, graduating with a business administration degree. Despite getting a degree that was not directly related to education, she began volunteering in a school. Upon completing my studies though, I was already volunteering for an interesting program. And I also did summer preschools. I did preschool training before I even entered the proficiency teaching profession. So I started teaching something I liked as well. Even though I was in the business field, but you know the experience with teaching it’s like, it would be nice if I could have combined it back then and done the segregation, but instead I went in the classroom, and I said I can see after one year how it is and if I’m going to like it then I’m going to study it. So I was given an opportunity to go to teach in [village name]. So, the teacher isn’t going to take it because it was too far. But anyway I said I’ll take up the position and I’ll go there. So I was posted there for the first year. After like a week or so I already, I started liking the place and everything. Rebecca takes risks and takes control. Beyond her father’s influence and direction, Rebecca accepts and takes responsibility for decisions and choices she make. She has a strong internal locus of control that is a critical element of resiliency. Again, her
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 accelerated academic performance, job assignments, and accomplishments are indicative of her intelligence and a tireless work ethic. The ability to see oneself with the power to determine life choices is a critical element of resiliency. Throughout the interview, Rebecca’s internal locus or control is a major theme of her success. She is a designer of her own destiny, which models and encourages greater social justice, competition, and quality in the areas where she works. Continued Education with New Opportunities Rebecca went back to school for a degree in primary school education. After completing this degree, she spent time in schools away from home to learn better instructional strategies to bring back home. Then I got the study leave for my bachelor’s in primary education. So I moved to [city]. I did my bachelor’s there. I did my field experience in one upstate government school to get experience. And when it was time for my internship I did not return home. I did my internship at [school]. So that I can see how it’s like out there and then bring back some of my knowledge to [home district]. So that was what I did. And when I came back, after my studies, the manager asked me if I can take up the principalship. And I said, “sure” I didn’t have a problem with it because I wanted the challenge. I wanted to challenge myself and so I was posted at [school] from April, just after Easter, after I had my baby, from April to June I was at [school]. And then I requested to go to [rural school], which is at the farthest point. And I know that females are not usually sent there, but I wanted to see what it’s like out there. I mostly work around like close to urban schools and even though they’re run not very far from town, but it’s not, I have never really been like way out I only hear experiences but I wanted to get the experience. So I ended up going to [rural school] last school year [as principal].
Rebecca’s confidence and intelligent curiosity drive her to go and do what others would not. She made this pioneering decision even while accepting her own personal and cultural expectations in the role of mother. No one works harder than Rebecca. Her strong work ethic continues to be a significant factor of resiliency for Rebecca. Balancing a Woman’s Life Role and Woman as Principal Rebecca had several challenges as a principal in a rural district. All of the other principals were men, as well as her staff. The village had never had a woman principal before, and cultural expectations for women did not include leadership. Most women in the culture married young, had children, and supported their husband. Rebecca valued family, but she had ambitions to make a difference within education, as well.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Last school year in that section, in that zone, I was the only female there. So I worked with other male principals. And also on my staff, I was the only female on my staff. I worked with five male teachers on my staff. At first, you know, the teachers didn’t feel that comfortable because I was the only female and I was their boss, the authoritative figure there. But I guess they saw me more later on as like somebody who guides them along. Of course, there was respect later on. I guess I earned it too. I didn’t really have to demand it. I earned it based on how I treated them. Because I know they’re all individuals. And I, it wasn’t a hard choice because I have to understand each and every one of them [and know] they’re different. Although Rebecca has sought this nontraditional role, she respects and values the traditional culture. She stands as a bridge between two worlds, and she carefully protects the dignity of each. She explains this understanding when she compares the school relationships to her marriage relationship. And so their perception especially in our culture with females is different because at home, they mostly dominate everything. And so I’m a teacher. Well the ones who are married, they have like housewives and none of them had a partner who was working. So, I, you can really see that they’re the bread bringers at home. So it was a little difficult even, even to the point like some of them they you know, tried to challenge me a little, in their own little way. But I always tried to sit down and talk to them and tell them that you know we have a say too. And in my home, that’s the way I do it, that’s the way of my husband. For example, we just built our house, so we sat down and said, he asked me, “how would you want, you know, your house? How would you want the interior art?” and he would say, “how about this? You think we can do it like that?” “yea that sounds good.” But, or I would say, “no I don’t really like that for some reason, I saw a house like that.” Like that, and so what I do at home, how I run my life, is the same way I want, like I see education too. That I must have a say and you must have a say. Not because I’m a female and you should just make something there for me and I accept it. Right, so, so that is what I shared with them. And so I stopped meetings sometimes and talk about those. And so they were like sometimes they would share with me and say, “you know what, that’s true. Because we barely ask you know, I barely ask my partner if she’d like how I would do things. When you’re giving me an idea that yes, maybe they have a better idea.”
She respects and listens to her faculty in order to empower them in the same way her husband respects her opinions. And so, little things like those come, it takes us a long way. I tell them because when my husband asks me how I would I want this to be done, I
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 feel good about it because I have a say. Just the thought, that he gave me that opportunity to have a say I mean, it takes me a long way. Rebecca addressed the cultural expectations of her staff directly. She was assertive in her approach but did not prevent her employees from expressing their opinions. Her relationship with her faculty is evidence of the trust and respect that exists. Rebecca is not a victim; she is in control. Her strong internal locus of control means that circumstances or events do not adversely shape her responses. She states, So in order to operate so many problems I try to like talk to them. You know, in staff meetings. Or sometimes one to one if somebody’s saying something and it reaches to me and it’s not, you know, appropriate. And they know it, I sit down and I talk to them. And, so we had not much of those kinds of things at my school. And it was so surprising like when I talked to all the other principals; they were surprised at it because I have all males. Even the manager one time come to me and say, “oh Mrs. How do you do it? How?” He asked me if maybe they’ve made me cry yet. Because he knows they can be very challenging. But no. they were, they were good. We had to do a lot of, I had to sit down a lot of times with them and so, but nothing that I could not handle out of, you know, out of the limit. I didn’t get that challenge. Rebecca did not let the cultural problems with her leadership grow. When she was aware of anyone on her staff questioning her authority, she addressed it. A teacher who believed a woman should not be a principal was accepted as routine, but this assertion was not going to be allowed to remain unchallenged. Rebecca assertively promoted the goals of the school while publicly discussing cultural concerns with her role. Rebecca learned to be tough from her father, but she also learned from the disappointments and challenges she faced along the way. Rebecca shared about her first principal experience in which she was promoted over another woman who wanted the job. This woman was her friend and former classmate but was angry that she was overlooked and made Rebecca’s job more difficult. And so she knew me for a long time, and she gave me a lot of challenges. It was my first time being a principal. And so she challenged me a lot along with the community. And so I gained from that experience. And what we didn’t have time was to sit down and really you know talk about it and discuss it. She taught me a lot though. I did not see it in a negative way that oh she didn’t, she, I knew that she might have wanted the post and that could have contributed to what she did to me. For those few months, was very good because she taught me a lot. Learning from challenges is often difficult. Emotions often provide signals to retaliate and behave in less than professional ways. She knew that her manager expected tears and emotional responses from her because she was a woman, but Rebecca averted the negative reactions and took a proactive position to learn from these moments. The lessons from the challenges helped her as she took the principalship in the rural village. 37
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 I don’t see it in a negative way. I will go from this, and so um, she challenged me and as a professional I see her from time to time and I speak with her and don’t hold a grudge. Because I learn from the experience she gave me. So I just hope that at the end of the school year I have a conversation with her over the things that she needs to improve on. Because as a professional, one thing I would say is qualification is one, but attitude takes you a long way. You can have all the people, you can be so qualified, but without attitude, to me, you’re still not complete. I always say attitude says a lot about a person. Rebecca’s resiliency based on her gender, the family support, her intelligence and hard work combined with her undeniable internal locus of control for her life are testaments to her successful cultural acceptance in a nontraditional woman’s leadership role. Conclusion A Male Perspective There are many similarities between the challenges that Rebecca faced as a school principals and women leaders in Texas. A fundamental issue is the cultural expectations for women in respective regions. Women are expected among many cultures to be second, often even submissive, to men. This bias creates the challenges for women in educational leadership among students, employees, and community members, and it limits the competition needed for quality applicants in administrative positions. As a former superintendent, I have participated in the hiring of several principals. It is not unusual to hear teachers say, “we want a man as a principal,” even though they have been told clearly that the district will hire without consideration of gender. Often, the best person for the position has been a woman. However, the woman who steps into the position will have to face the cultural expectations and vie for acceptance. Interestingly, women are often the ones who do not want to have a woman hired to be an educational leader. I have found that men are more often neutral regarding whom to hire. Women do not believe they will enjoy working for another woman. This prejudice can be seen in the experiences of Rebecca. Her first leadership position was made more difficult by another female friend who felt overlooked. This situation was a learning experience for Rebecca. This lack of support from women is non-intuitive. The same women who will argue for women’s leadership in the abstract will fight against it in the concrete. A woman who advances beyond the niche expected by her peer group will feel pressure to stay in her former role. Others will use gossip and ostracizing in an attempt to control the new leader. This attitude can be emotionally difficult to overcome, but given time, a new niche is developed. The woman leader may have to struggle for acceptance but will eventually get it. There is another factor to the hiring of women administrators. Women are stereotyped in many districts based upon the first one to get a leadership position. This perspective is good if the woman leader was effective, but not everyone meets this expectation. Ineffective hires can take place among men and women, but in women there is a tendency to generalize these 38
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 problems. Hearing a comment like “we will never hire a woman again for that position” is not uncommon. These comments do not even address the day-to-day challenges that may occur from young men and boys who were taught that women are not to tell them what to do, or parents who refuse to acknowledge the leadership role of a woman. These scenarios happen because of an underlying cultural expectation that has improved in many places within Texas but still exists. Changing the cultural expectations regarding women will not happen overnight in either Central America or Texas. The role of women in schools has been changing for decades. There are still inequalities as compared to men, but advancements are occurring. Change does not happen without discomfort, both to those who are challenging cultural norms and those who experience the change. The story of Rebecca has lessons in handling this discomfort. First, she did not ignore it. She invited employees and others to discuss their concerns with her leadership. She valued ongoing dialogue and examination of her role within the cultural norms. These types of questions can be sensitive, and anger could occur, but this may not be helpful. The leader must be serious about the issue but not be personally offended. The second lesson Rebecca provides is that moving outside of cultural norms can be emotionally difficult initially, but a new norm eventually is established that can be comfortable. Growth for anyone can be painful, and changing cultural expectations may result in pressure for many people. This pain does not last and change does happen. Leaders like Rebecca are needed in all cultures to promote social justice in circumstances where marginalization of genders and race are common. A Woman’s Perspective I have first-hand experience being a woman high school principal in a small rural school. When Dr. Hickey introduced me to Rebecca through video recorded interviews, I was compelled to voice my understanding of her story. The gendered lens of our experiences provided the opportunity to present a multi-dimensional picture of Rebecca’s narrative. I found it fascinating how a woman principal in a third-world developing country in Central America faced very similar cultural expectations and acceptance challenges that I had faced ten years ago in East Texas. I can relate to challenged authority from both male and female faculty and community members. In the small rural community, it was acceptable for a woman to lead an elementary campus, but not serve as a high school principal. I respect the challenges Rebecca faced, and I am impressed with her leadership skills. Most of all, I respect Rebecca’s courage that led her to push the barriers aside despite the odds. She had the resiliency not only to survive, but to thrive in a hostile environment created when she stepped into a nontraditional leadership role and risked cultural rejection. When we equip competent women leaders with skills, knowledge, and support they need to excel in school leadership positions, they are able to move the organization toward social justice and equity for all others. Opening the door and ushering in strong women to compete for school leadership positions can change schools as well as the community cultural expectations. Since
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 increased competition changes and improves markets. Increasing the number of women into the school leadership market can have the same positive effect. Upon reflection, the fact that women leaders must face these challenges of cultural acceptance when they enter into nontraditional roles is not surprising since men face the same issues when they undertake roles that are not traditionally male. This inherent need to order the world into convenient roles and labels dictates the traditions that cultures embrace. Those who step out of the cultural leadership boundaries must be resilient individuals in order to be successful in their quest. Through gendered lens of a woman in educational leadership, I understand the challenges before any woman who is a school leader or who aspires to become one. Rebeccaâ€™s story is in many ways our story. Conclusion Despite progressive goals for equity and equality related to social justice, cultural expectations continue to cause resistance to accepting women in leadership. This creates an inherent unfairness to women leaders who must address the characteristics of difficult jobs with gender expectations in opposition to their administrative roles. These problems discourage women from becoming educational leaders, which limits competition and quality. The level of quality among women principals becomes clear to anyone who has worked around them. The male perspective mentioned that many employees, women included, emphasized their desire to have a man as a principal. This situation happens despite many women being the best candidate available. The unfairness to the perception of a man being the best option is clear, but if this has an impact on hiring, limits the quality of employees. Educational leadership quality may already be impacted by cultural expectations based upon gender. A girl raised to believe that leadership roles are inappropriate will likely avoid educational administration in future decisions. This self-elimination based on cultural expectations will have an adverse effect to the fundamental purpose of schools: student achievement. In this way our progressive American educational culture is no different than the culture in a developing country. Women are often required to not only be the best educational leader but must address unfounded beliefs of employees and community members. However, resilient women continue to overcome the challenges and thrive in leadership roles.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 References Polkinghorne, D.E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany: State University of New York Press. Bleakley, A (2005) Stories as data, data as stories: making sense of narrative inquiry in clinical education. Medical Education, 39: 534–540. Clandinin, D. J. & Connelly, J. M. (1999). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualititative research. San, Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Chodorow. N. J. (1999). The Reproduction of Mothering. Berkeley , CA: University of California Press. Christman, D. & McClellan, R. (2008). “Living on barbed wire”: Resilient women administrators in educational leadership programs. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(3): 3-29. Retrieved from http://eaq.sagepub.com/content/44/1/3 DOI: 10.1177/0013161X07309744. Hernetky, R. P. (2010). The role of balance in women’s leadership self-identity. Advancing Women in Leadership Journal, 30(14). Retrieved from http://advancingwomen.com/awl/awl_wordpress/ Lorber, J. (1994). Paradoxes of gender. New York, NY: Yale University Press. Maddock, S. (1999). Challenging women: Gender, culture and organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Mogadime, D., Mentz, P. J., Armstrong, D. E., & Holtam, B. (2010). Constructing self as leader: Case studies of women who are change agents in South Africa. Urban Education, 45(6), 797-821. Oram-Sterling, J. (2009). Biography of Joan Wint: A principal whose leadership for social justice transformed a rural Jamaican high school. Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, 7(4), 195-217. Richardson, G. E. (2002). The Metatheory of resilience and resiliency. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(3), 307-321. Sherman, W. H., Beaty, D. M., Crum, K. S., & Peters, A. (2010). Unwritten: Young women faculty in educational leadership. Journal of Educational Administration, 48(6), 741-754. Sperandio, J. (2011). Context and the gendered status of teachers: Women’s empowerment through leadership of non-formal school in rural Bangladesh. Gender & Education, 23(2), p. 121-135. DOI: 10.1080/09540251003674097 Werner, E. E. & Smith, R. S. ( 1979). A report from the Kauai longitudinal study. Journal of American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 18(2): 292-306. Retrieved from
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/jacp/article/S0002-7138(09)61044X/abstract doi:10.1016/S0002-7138(09)61044-X
Wesley Hickey is an associate professor of educational leadership at The University of Texas at Tyler. He has previously been a teacher, principal, and superintendent. email@example.com Genie Bingham Linn is an associate professor of educational leadership at The University of Texas at Tyler. She has previously been a teacher, principal, and service center consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org Vance Vaughn is an associate professor of educational leadership at The University of Texas at Tyler. He has previously been a teacher, principal, and superintendent. email@example.com
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 The Chameleon Identity Laura Trujillo-Jenks, Ph.D. Texas Woman’s University Introduction Traditionally, men have dominated leadership positions in the field of education, particularly the positions of principal and superintendent. However, more women are occupying these positions successfully (Mendez-Morse, 1999, 2000; Skrla, 2000a, 2000b; Tallerico, 1999, 2000). Additionally, identifying with educational administrators involves accepting the responsibilities, characteristics, and attributes assigned and ascribed to that position. An administrator has the responsibilities, characteristics, and attributes of leading and caring for teachers and children, ensuring that they succeed at the appropriate level and pace. With increased opportunities in educational administration, women can have a responsibility to become successful and possibly help alter the characteristics and attributes that are assigned and ascribed. The role identity of an administrator has many aspects, as each person who becomes an educational administrator brings individual experiences, background, and culture to the administrative role. This identity is shaped by the influence of the family, organization, and society (Curry, 2000; Powell, 1993; Restine, 1993). These familial, organizational, and societal influences are in turn dependent upon external, changing influences, beliefs, biases, ideas, and values (Curry; Powell; Yon, 2000). For example, the role identity of the administrator changes according to the outside influences and needs of the students, teachers, and community. This myriad of forces helps shape a person’s identity as an individual and as an educational leader. The combination of these external forces with an individual’s unique background and culture creates an identity for that person. As the external forces change, an individual’s identity changes. For example, women may have identities as nurturers, caregivers, and diplomats when working with people. However, some women may possess the additional identities of disciplinarians, financiers, and authoritarians when the situation demands these skills. The identity is shaped according to the need at a particular time and place and can change as needed and as appropriate (Curry, 2000; Yon, 2000). This changeability means that the attributes and characteristics assigned to a person may not be observed or even be true for that person at any given time. For instance, although women have been assigned certain traditional attributes and characteristics, some may never display those designations. They may display other attributes and characteristics to fit their identity and need at that point in time. Hence, changing opportunities for women can lead to changing attributes and characteristics, or identities. Changing the Norm Generalizing and assuming that all women possess characteristics of assigned attributes can be dangerous for educational administrators. This danger has been documented in some research, but very little research has focused on the identity and assigned attributes of women in educational administration. Furthermore, the limited literature on women (Marcano, 1997; Mendez-Morse, 1999, 2000; Tallerico, 2000) has not specified how identity affects women in 43
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 education. The literature also has not specified how women reeducate others not to judge them using assigned attributes. It is also important to understand that successful women bring unique and individual identities when promoted to administrative positions. Attributes ascribed to administrative positions, in all likelihood, have been designed to fit only men and may not be a good fit for most women. Therefore, improving the norm and increasing diversity through the hiring of successful women is a difficult challenge because it involves changing the ideas of socialized norms. Socialized norms are those that society deems acceptable and by which it expects individuals and groups to abide. However, when the socialized norms are challenged, diversity and new ideas, perspectives, perceptions, and identities can be learned. For example, in educational administration, the leadership positions have mainly gone to men (Grogan, 1996; Ortiz & Marshall, 1995; Skrla, 1999, 2000a, 2000b; Tallerico, 1999, 2000). However, more women have earned the opportunities to lead schools and districts (Grogan, 1996; Marcano, 1997; MendezMorse, 1999, 2000; Ortiz & Marshal; Skrla, 2000b; Tallerico, 1999, 2000) and have changed the norm, which has changed the definition and face of leadership. This change has been a slow process, but the norms are changing as educational leadership slowly becomes more diverse. Chameleon Identity Is there some truth that educational leaders adapt to different situations or scenarios as different persons? In other words, does each person hold different identities that are showcased at different times and at different situations? Furthermore, in the leadership world of education, do leaders hold different identities? The fast and easy answer would be, “Yes!” but there are stipulations to this answer. Take gender, for instance, when thinking about identities in educational leadership: Generally speaking, men and women do behave differently and are perceived differently in leadership positions, just as they are in most positions. Most men are seen as directive and authoritative, while most women are seen as collaborative and compassionate. These identities, then, define that person. However, there are many instances when many men can also be collaborative and compassionate, while many women can also be directive and authoritative. Therefore, identities can be attributed to a leader based on perceptions of others and defined by how a leader deals with a situation. A male leader who is directive and authoritative in one situation, may immediately become collaborative and compassionate in another situation and the same for women. The leaders can change their identities. The term that could encompass this ideal is the “chameleon identity”. However, what should be understood is how this chameleon identity changes, and for what reasons this chameleon identity changes. For educational leaders, this chameleon identity is understandably used because an educational leader must learn to be flexible while performing the job. One parallel that can be made about the chameleon identity is with Anzaldua’s (1987) border identity. Although she focuses on race, the concept is similar. Anzaldua posits that there are borders, both physical and indefinable, where one lives and where one racially identifies with two or more cultures. Her idea of living on the border of two or more cultures, crossing from one world into another, and identifying with the expectations of many cultures closely aligns to the findings of the chameleon identity. Hence, as educational leaders, identifying with a campus culture, a district culture, and a 44
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 home culture may be an example of living on borders of different venues or scenarios, each culture expecting a “different” identity or person depending on the situation. To take it a step further, a principal leads a campus and could have a familial culture, where much collaboration is seen. The staff sees this leader as the head of the campus, like a parent or a member of a family. Therefore, the principal, in this situation is like a member working with others to better a campus. At the district level, the culture may be one where a directive leadership style by the superintendent is taken, which means the principal in this case is seen as more of a follower or subordinate to the directive superintendent. Additionally, once the principal leaves the school atmosphere and enters the home atmosphere, the identity then becomes that of parent, spouse, partner, etc. This home identity may be more closely aligned to that of a caregiver, as described by family members. Therefore, this principal has several identities: collaborative, subordinate, and caregiver. An educational leader possesses different identities, sitting on the border of many cultures, and waits to use the appropriate identity at the appropriate time. The chameleon identity also relates to the idea of Martinelli (1993) and Yon (2000) that identity changes over time, identity changes according to certain regions, and identity changes according to social and political influences. This idea becomes quite fascinating to conceive, when considering the geographical changes that a principal may undergo. For example, a principal leading in an urban school, where there is adequate school funding and a large diverse student and staff population, may adopt an identity that fits that school culture. However, if that same principal moves to take lead of a rural school, the principal’s identity must change; it must change due to the possible differences in school funding, student population, staff, and culture. Then identity can change as a person changes and as a situation or environment changes. This identity would change over time, according to certain environments, and per social and political changes. The chameleon identity, then, is influenced by a person’s family, by the ways that they see themselves, by the ways that others see them, and by society’s assigned attributes. It can be stated that educational leaders do adapt to different situations adopting an appropriate identity for that situation: leaders do hold different identities with attributes that align with each identity, illuminated at different times. The Social Construction of Identity Identity is a social construction. One grows up to be a person that one’s family has helped shape with influences from a culture or cultures and influences from the community or society in which one lives (Curry, 2000; Mendez-Morse, 2000; Meyer, 1996; Prouty, 1995; Restine, 1993; Sanchez, 1993, Stoddard, 1973a, 1973b). Identity then is putting meaning to being, describing who one is, has come to be, and will be in the future. Josselson described identity as follows: Identity is the stable, consistent, and reliable sense of who one is and what one stands for in the world. It integrates one’s meaning to oneself and one’s meaning to others; it provides a match between what one regards as central to oneself and how one is viewed by significant others in one’s life….Identity is also a way of preserving the continuity of self, linking the past and the present….In its essence, identity becomes a means by which people organize and understand their experiences and…share their meaning systems with 45
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 others. What we choose to value and deprecate, our system of ethics—these form…our sense of identity. (as cited in Curry, 2000, p. 22) Hence, each individual in society and within cultures has an identity, which is the portal to an individual’s self.Society’s manner of identifying can be explained using Stoddard’s (1973a) three basic distinctions for identity: (a) externally bestowed, (b) projected, and (c) self-designated (p. 38). Externally bestowed. Externally bestowed identification is an identity or values that society bestows or places on a group of people based on similar characteristics. However, as Vaca stated, “it is erroneous for anyone to assign certain values to a specific group and treat them as homogenous” (as cited in Stoddard, 1973a, p. 43). Ignoring the vast differences within a specific group is ignoring the individual values of people and emphasizing stereotypes. This tenet holds true for men and women: Generally speaking, some identities may correctly be placed on a gender, but within a gender, there are individuals with specific identities, created through personal history. Projective view.If society’s externally bestowed identities or values are rejected, then the projective view may be adopted by a group of people. The projective view is how members of a group see themselves and identify themselves by the criteria with which they evaluate other groups. Stoddard (1973) explains this view using ethnicity: “Ethnic groups reveal their class origin and self-identity by the criteria they use to evaluate other groups and the manner in which they react to the behavior of others” (p. 51). Women, for example, may promote themselves as leaders who are capable and possibly superior to men in order to capture an identity that won’t be rejected. Furthermore, the names, labels, and terms that are assigned to a group may encourage the development of a certain group identity. For instance, women may be seen as leaders who are weak, who may cry if tested, or who may be too compassionate and easily persuaded. These labels are common, but may not adequately identify all women in leadership positions, nor do they give credence to each individual’s gifts that are brought to a leadership position. Self-designated. Stoddard (1973a, 1973b) states that self-designated terms, labels, or views are those that a group places on itself for identification purposes. Certain members of a group define their identity differently from others in the same group. Therefore, self-designated identification can be seen as more accurate for one person or group because the identification is individualized for that one person or group. Hence, women leaders are individuals with separate and unique identities and they conform to different societal settings as those settings prescribe, nevertheless, with a self-designated individual identity. Conclusion The chameleon identity: An individual’s identity changes over time, from situation to situation, with different settings and groups of people. Understanding that each person has multiple identities that change according to situations is also understanding that each person has a chameleon identity. Educational leaders hold chameleon identities, which help these leaders adapt to different scenarios that fit that specific leader at that 46
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 specific time. For educational leaders, it is also important to understand that others also have different identities, like teachers, students, parents, and other educational leaders. Recognizing and understanding this point will help a leader know how to react and what identity she/he should â€œwearâ€? at a particular time.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 References Anzaldua, G. E. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera: The new Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute. Curry, B. (2000). Women in power: Pathways to leadership in education. New York: Teachers College Press. Grogan, M. (1996). Voices of women aspiring to the superintendency. Albany: State University of New York Press. Marcano, R. (1997). Gender, culture, and language in school administration: Another glass ceiling for Hispanic females. Advancing Women in Leadership, 1(1), 1–6. Retrieved June 16, 2002, from Advancing Women Web site, www.advancingwomen.com Martinelli, P. (1993). Mexican American identity: An interdisciplinary approach. In M. Bernal & P. Martinelli (Eds.), Mexican American identity (pp.19–34). Encino, CA: Floricanto Press. Mendez-Morse, S. (1999). Redefinition of self: Mexican-American women becoming superintendents. In C. C. Brunner (Ed.), Sacred dreams: Women and the superintendency (pp. 29–48). New York: State University of New York Press. Mendez-Morse, S. (2000). Claiming forgotten leadership. Urban Education, 35(5), 584–597. Meyer, D. (1996). Speaking for themselves: Neomexicano cultural identity and the Spanish language press, 1880–1920. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Ortiz, F., & Marshall, C. (1995). Becoming a school leader: The case of females and minorities. People and Education, 3(1), 83–111. Powell, G. (1993). Women and men in management (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Prouty, J. (1995). Women’s voices: New insights. In B. Irby & G. Brown (Eds.), Women as school executives: Voices and visions (pp. 111–117). Austin, TX: Council for Women School Executives, Sam Houston Press. Restine, L. (1993). Women in administration: Facilitators for change. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, Corwin Press. Sanchez, G. (1993). Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, culture, and identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945. New York: Oxford University Press. Skrla, L. (2000a, November/December). Mourning silence: Women superintendents (and a researcher) rethink speaking up and speaking out. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education (QSE), 13(6), 611–629.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Skrla, L. (2000b). The social construction of gender in the superintendency. Journal of Education Policy, 15(3), 293–316. Stoddard, E. (1973a). Mexican Americans. New York: Random House. Stoddard, E. (1973b, March). Mexican American identity: A multi-cultural legacy. Paper presented at the Southwestern Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Dallas, TX. Tallerico, M. (1999). Women and the superintendency: What do we really know? In C. C. Brunner (Ed.), Sacred dreams: Women and the superintendency (pp. 29–48). New York: State University of New York Press. Tallerico, M. (2000). Accessing the superintendency: The unwritten rules. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Yon, D. (2000). Elusive culture: Schooling, race, and identity in global times. New York: State University of New York Press.
Laura Trujillo-Jenks, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University where she teaches courses in the Educational Leadership Program. She is an associate editor for the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership and she just published her first book, Survival Book for New Teachers: How to Become a Professional, Effective, and Successful Teacher firstname.lastname@example.org
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Commonalities of Women Superintendents in Texas S. Brigette Whaley, Ph.D. candidate University of Texas at Arlington Abstract Women are underrepresented in the superintendency in Texas. To explore this topic, a survey was sent to superintendents in Texas and female superintendentsâ€™ answers were examined for common experiences and traits. Of the women in Texas who responded to the survey that have obtained a position in the superintendency, most of them were employed in school districts with less than 5,000 students. Another common experience some of them share is their attendance at Tarleton State University and Texas A&M University- Commerce. The majority of respondents have had their certification for nine years or less, while very few current women superintendents have held their certifications for 20 years or more.
Introduction Males heavily outnumber females in administrative positions in the K-16 setting, although women dominate the field of education. This is especially true for the position of superintendent in the United States (U.S.). How underrepresented women are is unclear due to the variance in studies and the limited number of studies on the topic. The U. S. Department of Education does not keep records of how many women there are in the superintendency. This problem has not been given the necessary significance in national educational records, and a national database of superintendents listed by gender is nonexistent (Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011). Grogan and Shakeshaft (2011) note about 76% of teachers nationally in the K-12 setting are female, yet less than 22% of superintendents are female. In their study, they go on to say that number is lower depending on the source for the statistics and may be actually closer to 14%. Despite the male dominance of the superintendentâ€™s position, women are gradually making progress in attaining this position and being successful. Women who are in this leadership position are likely to have some commonalities as a group. Statement of the Problem and Purpose of the Study The number of women superintendents is significantly disproportionate to the number of women who are certified and qualified for the position (Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011). Research points to a number of reasons it remains difficult for women to obtain this position including gender-bias and womenâ€™s aspirations (Brunner & Grogan, 2007; Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011; Tyack, 1981; Young & Sklar, 2003). Superintendents may share some common experiences such as years of experience, age, district size, and how they obtained their credentials for the superintendency. In Texas, about 75% of teaching positions (Ramsay, 2011) and 15% of superintendent positions are held by women (Buckles, 2009). The purpose of this study was to examine current Texas women
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 superintendents’ backgrounds for commonalities and which educational preparation programs they attended. Literature Review Women have struggled for the right to an education, the right for independence and the right to vote. Before women gained the right to vote in 1920, they were excluded from holding positions that were deemed as men’s jobs such as doctors, lawyers, soldiers, and school administrators. Such was the case for Myra Bradwell in 1872, when she challenged the law that restricted her from becoming a lawyer, although she was well qualified and prepared for the position. Her case went as far as the United States Supreme Court where she was still denied access to the position of lawyer. Justice Bradley said in his concurring opinion: It is true that many women are unmarried and not affected by any of the duties, complications, and incapacities arising out of the married state, but these are exceptions to the general rule. The paramount destiny and mission of woman are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator. And the rules of civil society must be adapted to the general constitution of things, and cannot be based upon exceptional cases …and, in my opinion, in view of the peculiar characteristics, destiny, and mission of woman, it is within the province of the legislature to ordain what offices, positions, and callings shall be filled and discharged by men, and shall receive the benefit of those energies and responsibilities, and that decision and firmness which are presumed to predominate in the sterner sex (Bradwell v. State of Illinois, 1872). While women are no longer excluded from any career in the United States or from obtaining an education, women continue to struggle to be treated as equals to men in particular careers. It has been more than a century since the Bradwell ruling, and the percentage of women in the superintendency is still less than 25%. Grogan and Shakeshaft (2011) argue that the low percentage of women in the superintendency suggests that women are still not considered equal to men for leadership positions like that of the superintendency, although they are equally prepared. Women have been discouraged from seeking the superintendency position since it was deemed a man’s job (Blount, 1998). Tyack (1981) attributes the lack of women in administration to the “sexual structuring” (p. 28) of the American educational system. Blount (1998) concluded that teaching became feminized and administration became masculinized in the field of education around the year 1900. After the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote and the women’s movement progressessd, women began preparing and moving to positions that were previously forbidden such as lawyers, doctors, and school administrators, but not without barriers. As the feminist movement pushed forward and began gaining ground, women became superintendents, but women’s progress towards the superintendency has been intermittent. By 1930, nearly 11% of all superintendent positions were held by women (Blount, 1998). By 1980, only about 1% of superintendents were women (Brunner & Grogan, 2007). The numbers over the years have been unpredictable and dependent on factors beyond women’s control such as men returning from war to fill those positions (Blount, 1998).
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Barriers are a part of every career, with gender bias being one of the most significant. Heilmann (2001) proclaims that the main reason women are not leading organizations is due to gender bias. Women and men have specific characteristics and are expected to act a particular way. Society has equated top leadership positions with males due to their need to be thick-skinned and undaunted (Heilman, 2001). These expected characteristics portray the genders as opposites and men are therefore viewed as natural leaders. Heilman (2001) describes this as a Lack of Fit model that leads to expected successes and failures in line with society’s beliefs about which gender is better suited for specific jobs. Grogan and Shakeshaft (2011), estimate that at the 0.7% annual increase it will take about 77 more years for women to no longer be underrepresented in the superintendency if the rate stayed consistent. This estimate is based on information reported from the AASA in 2000. The AASA reported 2,500 of the 13,728 superintendents nationally were women, approximately 18%. In contrast, the National Center of Education Statistics reported in 2008 that nationally 76% of teachers were women (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). Women typically spend more time in the classroom as instructional leaders and preparing for a superintendent’s position as compared to men. According to the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) in 2010, they reported 87% of women superintendents have more than five years classroom experience before becoming superintendents as compared to 72% of men. In 2009 in Texas, only 10% of superintendents had less than 10 years of experience in education with nearly 65% having between 20 to 39 years (Ramsay, 2010). Although the annual increase of women attaining the position is very low, the number of women qualified and prepared for the position has been growing at a faster rate. In Texas, Ramsay (2011) reported the number of women and men obtaining their first superintendent’s certificate between 2006 and 2010 were fairly evenly divided until 2010, when men became the majority. He also noted that the total number of superintendent’s certificates issued has steadily declined from 336 in 2006 to 161 in 2010 (Ramsay, 2011). The certificates were obtained through various preparation programs including alternative, post-baccalaureate, and out of state. Further research is needed to determine if there are commonalities in women superintendents’ preparation programs. In addition to seeking certification, the AASA’s 2010 report indicated there was a slight decline in the number of women superintendents who possessed doctorate degrees nationally from about 57% in 2000 to 52% in 2010 (Kowalski, McCord, Petersen, Young, & Ellerson, 2011). The AASA’s 2010 report indicated 1,867 of an estimated 12,600 superintendents responded to an electronic survey of which 24% were female (Kowalski et al., 2011). The response rate of less than 15% overall leaves some variance in the number of women who possessed doctoral degrees and the actual number of superintendents nationally. Buckles (2009) found in Texas during the 2008-2009 school year women represented about 15% of the total number of superintendents. The lack of women administrators is a social concern and while understanding the problem is significant, a solution to the problem is not on the horizon (Kellerman & Rhode, 2007). The most commonly used reason for the lack of women in leadership positions is women’s aspirations (Kellerman & Rhode), not preparation. Research conducted by Grogan (1996) 52
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 concurs that obstacles can hinder women’s aspirations to the superintendency. Society’s expectations of women required them to work harder and work more than men to earn the same position (Grogan, 1996). The women who aspire to the superintendency will have a difficult road ahead. Besides aspiration, the two reasons cited most frequently for the lack of women superintendents were that women were discouraged from pursuing the position and school boards typically would not employ them (Glass, 2000). Based on data from the AASA 2000 survey, Glass (2000) reported that women were not preparing for the position, were not as interested in finance as men, and for personal reasons, women were not interested in the position. Glass’ (2000) claims were vehemently disputed by Brunner and Kim (2010) who contend that the claims are not at all accurate. Brunner and Kim (2010) maintain that the AASA’s findings in 2007 indicated 40% of women who worked in central office positions aspired to the superintendency. Brunner and Kim (2010) concluded that research on the number of women who receive doctoral degrees that also receive superintendent’s certificates is nonexistent. This supports the need for further research into women’s preparation programs for the superintendency. Theoretical Framework Mary Ann Tetreault emphasized that overall feminism is meant to terminate the domination of any one group by studying, sharing, and giving voice to all groups in society who have been discriminated against for any reason (Teske & Tetreault, 2000). Studying this group of women and identifying specific preparation programs in Texas that are advancing women into the superintendency is a stepping stone to provide information about these women, their studies, and their experiences. In addition, Mary Kay Thompson Tetreault introduced feminist phase theory in 1980 to examine different phases of scholarship and how it relates to women (Tetreault, 1985). This theory emphasizes the examination of women’s lives and their studies and can be used to examine how women’s educational preparations influence their lives. By studying, analyzing, and sharing the results of this study, it will add to the body of knowledge about women in the superintendency. Therefore, feminism and feminist phase theory were used to guide this study. Research Questions It is important to know what experiences and traits female superintendents in Texas have in common. It may help aspiring superintendents in their search for a position. This study extends what is known about women in the superintendency in Texas. Two research questions guided this study. 1. What college or superintendent certification program do women superintendents in Texas have in common? 2. What demographics or background experiences are shared by women superintendents in Texas?
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Significance of the Study The top motivators for the position of superintendent seem to be the same for men and women (Harris, 2007). The need to make a difference, initiate change, make a positive impact, and personal/professional quest were the top five reasons Harris (2007) determined motivate women, as well as men, to pursue the superintendency. For women who are aspiring to the superintendency, knowing some of the experiences that other superintendents have had is beneficial to their preparations to attain a superintendent’s position. This knowledge could help close the gap between the number of women superintendents compared to the number of men superintendents. Method The purpose of this study was to examine current Texas women superintendents’ backgrounds and the educational preparation programs they attended. At the time of this survey, women occupied about 18% of superintendent positions in Texas (TEA, 2011). After receiving approval from the UT Arlington Institutional Review Board, a link to an anonymous, online survey at surveymonkey.com was e-mailed to all 1,232 superintendents in Texas listed in the Texas Education Agency’s database (TEA, 2011). The survey instrument for this study asked demographic information, district information and the name of the educational preparation program the superintendent attended. The survey consisted of 10 multiple choice questions with the opportunity to fill in an answer if their educational preparation program was not listed. They were also asked to fill in the state in which they received their credentials if it was a state other than Texas. Participants’ responses were collected in Survey Monkey. Descriptive statistics were used to describe this research. Findings The most important question this survey sought to answer was the name of the university or other educator preparation program current female superintendents in Texas attended. Of the 186 female (including interim) superintendents in Texas, 46 responded. One female was excluded since she was not a superintendent. This is a response rate of 25%. About 43% of current female superintendents in Texas that responded to the survey attended five colleges and one service center most frequently. Of those, Tarleton State and Texas A&M University – Commerce had the highest percentages with 9% each (Table 1). Table 1 College or Preparation Program
Region 08 Education Service Center
Sam Houston State University
Texas State University-San Marcos
West Texas A&M University
Tarleton State University
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Texas A&M University - Commerce
The second question this study sought to answer was about the demographics or background experiences shared by women superintendents in Texas. Demographic information was obtained during the survey including district size. The district sizes were listed by intervals of 5,000 students except the last one which includes districts with 25,000 or more students. The survey results indicated that 80% of female superintendents in Texas are employed in districts with up to 5,000 students. Districts with between 5,001 and 10,000 employed 13% of female superintendents. Table 2 displays these results, indicating that very few female superintendents are employed in districts with more than 10,000 students. Table 2 District Size (Number of students)
Another survey question asked female superintendents how long they had their certification. The results indicated that 37% of the superintendents had their certification between five and nine years while about 28% had their certification for four years or less. These two categories account for about 65% of the responses. Table 3 How many years have you had your certification?
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Discussion While there are 49 colleges or programs in Texas that superintendents can attend to get their Texas superintendent certification, two programs, Tarleton State and Texas A&M University â€“ Commerce, were the most frequented to obtain superintendent certification. Approximately 80% of female superintendents who responded attended a college or university program. According to the survey results, 65% of the respondents have attained their certification in the last 9 years. Approximately 9% of the female superintendents have had their certification for 20 years or more. There could be many reasons the percentage is low. Women have been frequently discouraged from obtaining certification before 1991 (Blount, 1998). Another possibility for the low number of female superintendents with certification for 20 years or more could be a limited number of superintendent certification programs existed over two decades ago. Further research is warranted to determine the factors that affected the 0-9 year as compared to the 20 or more years categories. Recommendations Recommendations for further study would be to compare the results to males for similarities and differences in their experiences. Are both male and female superintendents staying in the same position for the same average amount of time? Are they both attending and graduating preparation programs at the same rates? Another recommendation would be to inquire as to how many current female superintendents who have certification also have their doctorate degrees. How does having a doctorate and superintendent certification compare to having only certification in attaining a superintendent position? How long does it take to get a position with the doctoral degree as compared to without a doctoral degree? Further investigation into the Tarleton State and Texas A&M University- Commerce certification programs is warranted to examine why these university programs have more female Texas superintendents currently in the position than other university programs in Texas. These are the two programs that had the highest number of respondents to the survey as reported. Are more women completing these programs and if so, why? Implications may include a review of the two most frequented programs for certification as reported by respondents to this survey so other preparation programs may replicate their success. Further study is needed to examine why most female superintendents in Texas who responded to this survey are employed in districts with less than 5,000 students. Is it because women working in smaller districts are willing to work for less money? Are they willing to take on additional
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 roles? Or is it simply a product of the large percentage of school districts with less than 5,000 students?
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 References Blount, J. (1998). Destined to rule the schools: Women and the superintendency, 1873-1995. Albany State University of New York Press, 1998. Bradwell v. State of Illinois, 83 U.S. 130 (1872). Brunner, C. C., & Kim, Y. (2010). Are women prepared to be school superintendents? An essay on the myths and misunderstandings. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 5 (8). Brunner, C. C., & Grogan, M. (2007). Women leading school systems: Uncommon roads to fulfillment. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education Buckles, K. K. (2009). Career paths of select female superintendents serving in high profile/complex districts in Texas. Ed.D. dissertation, Tarleton State University, United States -- Texas. Retrieved July 24, 2011, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. (Publication No. AAT 3358172). Glass, T. E. (2000). Where are all the women superintendents? AASA’s latest study on the profession suggests seven reasons why female numbers still lag in top district posts. The School Administrator, June 2000. Retrieved from http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=14492&terms=women Grogan, M., & Shakeshaft, C. (2011). Women and educational leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Harris, S. (2007). Motivators and inhibitors for women superintendents. Advancing Women in Leadership Online Journal, 23, Spring 2007. Retrieved from http://www.advancingwomen.com/awl/spring2007/index.htm Heilman, M. E. (2001). Description and prescription: How gender stereotypes prevent women’s ascent up the organizational ladder. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 657–674. Kellerman, B., & Rhode, D. L. (2007). Women and leadership: The state of play and strategies for change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Kowalski, T. J., McCord, R. S., Petersen, G. J., Young, I.P., & Ellerson, N. M. (2011). American school superintendent: 2010 decennial study. Rowman & Littlefield Education. Ramsay, M. C. (2010). Administrator experience 2005-2009. SBEC online data, Texas Education Agency. Ramsay, M. C. (2011). Certified superintendent demographics by preparation route 2006-2010. SBEC online data, Texas Education Agency. Ramsay, M. C. (2011). Employed teacher demographics 2006‐2010. TEA PEIMS data. 58
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Teske, R. L., & Tetreault, M. A. (Eds.). (2000). Conscious acts and the politics of social change: Feminist approaches to social movements, community, and power (Vol. 1). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. Tetreault, M. K. T. (1985). Feminist phase theory: An experience-derived evaluation model. Journal of Higher Education, 56 (4): 363â€“84. Texas Education Agency, Ask Ted (2011). http://mansfield.tea.state.tx.us/tea.askted.web/Forms/Home.aspx Tyack, D. B., & Strober, M. H. (1981). Women and men in the schools: A history of the sexual structuring of educational employment. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, (2010). Teacher attrition and mobility: Results from the 2008-09 teacher follow-up survey (NCES 2010353).
S. Brigette Whaley is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her research interests include School Improvement and Womenâ€™s Leadership in Education. email@example.com
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Career Barriers for Women Superintendents: What Can We Learn from the Research?
Lisa D. Severns & Dr. Julie P. Combs Sam Houston State University
Abstract Many researchers have attempted to uncover the barriers for women aspiring to superintendent positions. In this scholarly perspective, we describe evidence-based barriers for women seeking superintendent positions and offer practical implications for them and the mentors who support them.
Introduction Much research over the past 20 years has centered on the role of the school superintendent, principally women in the superintendency. This research is particularly interesting because the role of school superintendent has been described as the most gender stratified leadership position in the nation (Skrla, 2000). Although the position of superintendent has historically been dominated by men, a majority of superintendents come from the teaching profession, a generally women-dominated profession (McCabe, 2001). Yet only approximately 22% of superintendents nationwide were women in 2006 (Derrington & Sharratt, 2009). Although this figure is up about 15% from 1992 (Glass, 1992), this number is still abysmally low. To explain these low numbers, many researchers have attempted to uncover the barriers for women aspiring to superintendent positions. Early studies in school leadership were conducted with participants who applied to leadership roles in school administration; more recent research shifted in focus to women occupying these leadership positions. In this article, we have selected three qualitative studies conducted over the past 15 years and written by researchers attempting to explain the barriers experienced by women. We recognize that two of the three studies are dated (i.e., 1999, 2000); however, our attempts to find more recent empirical studies published in peer-review journals yielded few results. Although many studies were conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s, thus justifying the need for continued research about women aspiring for superintendent roles, these three selected studies offer relevant implications for todayâ€™s leaders. The purpose of this article is to offer practical implications for women seeking superintendent positions and for the mentors who support them.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 External Career Barriers One study from 1999 provides a foundation for understanding a classification of barriers. Kowalski and Stouder (1999) explored career barriers experienced by women superintendents, investigating personal characteristics central to women reaching the top leadership role in school districts and their perceptions of career barriers. In their study, the researchers categorized perceived barriers either as internal or external barriers. Internal barriers were attributed to the individual and included lack of self-confidence and lack of tenacity. External barriers were attributed to family, institutions, or society and included lack of family support, lack of collegial support, lack of employment opportunity, gender discrimination, family responsibilities, and race/ethnic discrimination. Additionally, Kowalski and Stouder (1999) noted that gender discrimination might manifest in covert acts, either at the institution or individual level, and were often unidentifiable. For this reason, study participants were unable to articulate experiences related to covert discrimination.
Using qualitative methods, Kowalski and Stouder (1999) interviewed 13 women superintendents from Indiana. In the category of career barriers, the superintendents indicated that they experienced external barriers more frequently than internal barriers, and five superintendents indicated that gender discrimination was a barrier for them in obtaining their positions. When asked about the necessary personal characteristics needed for reaching the superintendent position, respondents rated quality and quantity of teaching experience, support of influential people, quantity of administrative experience, and personal appearance as most important. Interestingly, only one of the 13 participants indicated that being a woman was a positive characteristic in becoming a superintendent. The authors concluded that these superintendents appeared to have obtained their positions based on their established, positive work performances (Kowalski & Stouder, 1999). What can we learn from this study? These Indiana superintendents reported gender barriers in the 1990s, but did not allow these barriers to detract from their goals. From this study, we can conclude the following: 1. Hard work, dedication to the profession, and a positive performance record contributes to reaching the position of superintendent. 2. Having a strong mentor who supports, encourages, and protects women leaders from gender barriers that can impede their appointments to the top leadership positions is advantageous. 3. Personal characteristics such as confidence, tenacity, planning, and organizational skills attribute to the success of women superintendents. Barriers in Job Search Processes Using a large number of participants and multiple data collection methods over a two-year period, Tallerico (2000) conducted an extensive case study of superintendent search practices in the state of New York. The purpose of the qualitative study was to understand implications of superintendent search practices for women and people of color. Interviewed were 25 board 61
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 members, 25 members of search firms (i.e., recruiters), and 25 recent superintendent candidates; of these, 38 were women, 68 were White, and seven were African American. In addition to the interviews, Tallerico (2000) observed board meetings addressing the superintendent search efforts, meet-the-candidate sessions, and candidate forums. Further, a document analysis was performed with handouts, vacancy brochures, candidate applications, and community input surveys. Through the extensive data analysis process, Tallerico (2000) discovered a number of unwritten selection criteria. For example, board members were more likely to select candidates who most resembled themselves. Tallerico (2000) concluded that because a majority of consultants and board members are men, men candidates had an advantage based on this unwritten criterion. Second, board members described using gut feelings and the perceived chemistry between themselves and the candidates, which could increase the influence of subconscious bias. Consultants in the study reported that board members often selected a candidate based on personality and a perceived connection. Consultants and board members defined best-qualified candidates as those with specific job titles rather than demonstrated leadership skills. As such, Tallerico (2000) concluded that â€œnarrow constructions of ideal prior experiences often determine which applicantsâ€? (p. 29) would be interviewed. For example, a greater number of participants who had reached the superintendent candidacy level were high school principals rather than elementary school principals. As such, the high school principal is more often a male-dominated role and the elementary principal is more often a female-dominated role. Consultants and board members tended to value line positions over staff positions and high school experience over elementary experience. To combat these gender biases, Tallerico (2000) suggested a need for school board training to raise awareness of diversity issues. Such training may also assist boards in hiring search firms whose members are ethnically and gender diverse and who understand the need for a diversity of thought when seeking potential superintendent candidates. What can we learn from this study? Tallerico (2000) uncovered many issues related to womenâ€™s access to the superintendency by identifying the unwritten criteria used by school boards and search firm consultants. Tallerico (2000) offered the following suggestions: 1. School boards should receive training to raise their awareness of factors that can limit selection of minority candidates. Moreover, school boards need to be trained in the selection of consultants who lead the search process. 2. Consultants should be asked about the demographics of the candidates they recruit and the methods they use to advertise the positions. 3. Finally, associations such as TCWSE and TASA should lead efforts to facilitate these types of training for both school boards and consultant groups.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Self-Imposed Career Barriers Derrington and Sharratt (2009) conducted a study in 1993 and replicated the study in 2007 to identify womenâ€™s perceived barriers to the superintendency. In the first study, the researchers sent questionnaires to 200 female members of the Washington Association of School Administrators. The most significant barriers to reaching the superintendent position identified were sex discrimination and stereotyping. In the second study replicated 14 years later, the authors noted significant shifts in perceptions about barriers to the position. The most significant barriers to top leadership positions were perceived to be self-imposed barriers. The researchers defined self-imposed as choices the women made to not pursue the superintendent positions because of their family responsibilities or their desire to not relocate their families to obtain positions. The responsibilities of motherhood presented the largest obstacle to women who aspired to leadership roles (Derrington & Sharratt, 2009). Consequently, women superintendents with children under the age of 19 comprised the smallest percentage of women superintendents. Finding balance between the demands of a top leadership position and the demands of home and family can be difficult. The research of Derrington and Sharratt (2009) clearly underlines the difficult decisions women must make when balancing career and family. Such decisions might take an emotional toll on women as they face greater demands of accountability in their roles as superintendents and more responsibility for the care of children and the household. Because of these value conflicts between career and family, women may "self-select out of the job" (Derrington & Sharratt, 2009, p. 9). Concerned that the results of their study were indigenous to Washington state, Derrington and Sharratt (2009) reviewed a variety of studies conducted across the nation. Their research included California (Wickham, 2008), Illinois, Indiana, and Texas (Sharp, Malone, Walter, & Supley, 2004), Chicago and Illinois (Loder, 2005), and Iowa (Olsen, 2005). They reported similar results; barriers were perceived as either self-imposed, internal barriers or institutionalized, external barriers. These barriers were often manifested in women's unwillingness to relocate or in the demands of their families. What can we learn from this study? Many of these women administrators in Derrington and Sharrattâ€™s (2009) studies believed that they could not be effective as superintendents and as mothers and wives. Instead of focusing on external barriers, these women recognized that choices were required. We offer the following implications: 1. Women wanting to be superintendents need to establish support systems to help them with responsibilities in their homes and with their children. 2. Women must work to maintain a balance. Some women achieve balance by working with a life coach, exercising, and setting aside time for friends and family. Conclusion Although decades of research continues to provide evidence that women remain underrepresented in the position of chief executive officer, fundamental barriers women face in 63
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 attaining and managing positions as superintendents continue to surface. The modern woman fulfilling the role of school superintendent, however, still faces challenges of balancing a demanding career with family and other external obligations as well as overcoming gender biases in the workplace.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 References Derrington, M. L., & Sharratt, G. (2009). Female superintendents: Breaking barriers and challenging life styles. Delta Gamma Bulletin, 75(2), 8-12. Glass, T. E. (1992). The 1992 study of the American school superintendency. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators. Retrieved form ERIC database. (ED370229). Kowalski, T. J., & Stouder, J. G. (1999). Female experiences related to becoming a superintendent. Contemporary Education, 70(4), 32-40. Loder, T. (2005). Women administrators negotiate work-family conflicts in changing times: An intergenerational perspective. Educational Administration Quarterly, 41, 741. McCabe, D. H. (2001). Metaphorical descriptions of the role of women school superintendents. Education, 121(4), 690-703. Olsen, G. (2005). A portrait of an Iowa woman superintendent: A study of attributes and barriers for women in accessing the position of superintendent in Iowa (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses databse. (ProQuest Document ID 305374977). Sharp, W. L., Malone, B. G., Walter, J. K., & Supley, M. L. (2004). A three-state study of female superintendents. Education Research Quarterly, 27(3), 22-37. Skrla, L. (2000). Mourning silence: Women superintendents (and a researcher) rethink speaking up and speaking out. Qualitative Studies in Education, 13(6), 611-628. doi:10.1080/09518390050211547. Tallerico, M. (2000). Gaining access to the superintendency: Headhunting, gender, and color. Educational Administration Quarterly, 36(1), 18-43. doi:10.1177/00131610021968886. Wickham, D. (2008, March). Female superintendents' perceived barriers and successful strategies used to attain the superintendency in California. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.
Lisa D. Severns, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Accountability at Willis Independent School District, is a doctoral student at Sam Houston State University. firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie P. Combs, Director of the EDL Doctoral Program at Sam Houston State University, teaches practitioners how to translate research into practical implications. Lds008@SHSU.EDU 65
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Professional & Scholarly Perspectives offer research both scholarly positions and professional understandings. The contributors represent the diversity of TCWSE members who are university professors, district administrators, and aspiring administrators It is with pride that we accept and cherish each life role as more evidence of our amazing capacity for leadership. We are leaders. We are learners. We are women.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Open Letter to Women Professionals Dear Women Professionals, I write this letter to you because it has been my honor to support and mentor women for over 35 years. Even though professional women have achieved success in school administration or educational leadership, we still need a “brave heart” in order to endure and survive to reach the level you want to attain in this profession. The advice I offer comes from years of experience from my own hard lessons learned, and what I have observed. I share from my own brave heart with loving concern for your success! First, we often doubt ourselves! We know some of the things we want to do, but we are not sure we will be able to complete the journey. We wonder if we are good enough or smart enough. We beat ourselves up every day by thinking judgmental things like “I should not have said that. Or, I should not have done that. Or, I should have done something else, not that.” This uncertainty may be sparked by fear, no time, lack of enough money, lack of understanding, or needing approval. But, a woman can overcome all these things. Women need to develop a brave heart. A brave heart keeps you calm, strong, energetic, and listening with an open mind. Stay focused on reality of “what is” not “what if” to keep things in check. Reality is a friend, not an enemy. You will never know what you can do until you try. Don’t let your decision to move forward be based on “what if”! Leaders are risk-takers. Nothing in life is certain. Your fear is like wanting to win the lottery, but not buying a ticket!! Buy the ticket, for goodness sake! You will never win if you don’t. Bravery is just action even in the face of fears. Second, we try to be all things to everyone! Have you felt that you have to put yourself on the back burner? Do you have feelings about making everyone happy and you have to put yourself last? We say that we are so busy and we have to take care of our children, family, husband, special other, parents or grandparents, church responsibilities, community obligations, and job!! We want to be loved and needed and we like for people to tell us that we are wonderful and we are loved. Therefore, we perform. We are searching outside ourselves, not inside ourselves for acceptance and others love. We want to win other people’s approval, so we put ourselves last. What to do? Look at the labels you have taken on for yourself. Look for your gifts and see if they match what you are doing in your life. If you can find your gifts, find the truths, and then you can find your passions and mother yourself. Let your gifts surface and begin to use them. Let go of expectations, and your relationships will improve. You will have more energy. You do not have to be the best girl and do everything right. Stop trying to be the best performer! Listen to your brave heart. Listen and you will be a good gift to others.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Be confident knowing you are a worthy person. It is up to you to stand up and appreciate yourself and use your gifts. You will be a woman with a brave heart--calm, strong, energetic, and open! From my heart to yours, Dr. Lu
Dr. Lu Anna Stephens, Ph.D., with Lamar University has been a member of Texas Council of Women School Executives since 1986. She has mentored women leaders for over thirty-five years. Dr. Lu enjoys spending time with her family, sharing with friends, and teaching her graduate classes. Luanna.email@example.com
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Running in the Mud! The attorney is calling, he’s on line one; AYP submission is due, my job just ain’t no fun, Today! Today I am running in the mud, the course has obstacles galore! A student left school with a stranger in a van, she walked right out of the school’s front door! A non-custodial mother demanded records be sent to her, (scream) I really can’t take it anymore, Today! Today I am running, falling in the mud, falling in several mucky mud pits Emergency! Emergency! Now complete a PEIMS Primary Approver process or prepare to take a big hit, Ring, Ring, it’s the Elementary Principal with his list, and the others are right behind, Today. Today, my greatest challenge indeed is that this mud run is timed Getting ready for the audit, a stack of travel left to sign, GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING – I REALLY NEED MORE TIME TODAY! Today I am teaching a college course, and critiquing ejournal submissions Attending a dinner in anticipation of gaining college scholarship tuitions, Entering STAAR and EOC data, and that’s not all I do, Today I am in this crazy, competitive, action-packed mud run, and I am thrilled that you are too! Aligning curriculum, administering discipline, and writing improvement plans My secretary must be blind. Stop. She’s putting more in my hands… Wait, I’m falling, getting up, laughing, crying, running, muddy pockets keep weighing me down. Ahh, I made it to the finish line! Surprise, we all get to wear a winners’ crown! Looking back at Today, I really, really love what I do Even when it means running in the mud, and perhaps I might lose my shoes I know I’ll make it through each obstacle course…because this is the journey that I choose!
By Dr. Sharon Ross
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Refuel, Recharge and Refresh: Strategies to Forge Forward! Dr. Sharon D. Ross, Superintendent Jefferson ISD
Women who realize their value and relevance in leadership must have specific strategies for dealing with stress, burnout and the fatigue of challenging job demands. To forge forward on the journey, women leaders will need to refuel, recharge and refresh. The strategies shared cover recommendations for both organizational management responsibilities and personal management of life stresses
“The main key for success is to never quit…let that be your guiding light…your beacon is to never give up.” Lu Anna Stephens, PhD. In an effort to encourage and advance women in educational executive leadership positions, emphasis must be placed on the ability to recharge and refuel along the way using successful strategies and tips from research and matriarchs who previously paved the way. One commercial from Beautyrest reminds us to purchase their mattress for beauty rest and comfort while we sleep. The commercial highlights the best features of the mattress. Beginning, during, and concluding the journey in educational leadership requires a certain peaceful rest and so much more along the way. Women across the state and nation stand daily making a conscious choice to step out onto battle ground for “what’s best for children” and education, but what many individuals never consider is the truth that these women fight another battle. They fight for themselves. They fight for social justice and equality. They fight to be heard. At the end of the day, exhausted from the constant charge to juggle various tasks, concerns, and problems, the woman school executive must recharge and refuel to maintain the necessary stamina, will, power and energy to forge forward, unwavering through every fight and attack. No wonder some experiences of burnout come at early stages in the lives of women in educational leadership. Women must have specific strategies for dealing with stress, burnout and the fatigue of challenging job demands. These strategies cover recommendations for both organizational management responsibilities and personal management of life stresses. Strategies for Success As a leader and female superintendent, I (2012) hail myself and others as women of power and women of grace. We (women leaders) must learn to seek refuge in strategies designed to relieve and/or eliminate stressors on the job and in life. One thing is for sure, each of us should explore different avenues to rid job and life stressors that invade the mind, will and intellect. 70
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Managing the Job. In Sacred Dreams, Brunner (1999) found that women are communicators and followers of seven specific organizational management strategies for successful careers. 1. Create and maintain a balance between job roles and gender related responsibilities. 2. Keep the agendas simple with a strict and clear focus on the care of children and student achievement. 3. Remain feminine and still be the head who is heard. 4. Do not act like a man. 5. Remove or let go of that which rises up to block success. 6. Remain calm, fearless, courageous and be a risk-taker with a “can-do” attitude. 7. Share power and give credit to those getting the job done. Managing Life. The strategies above assist the busy woman executive in the successful management of an organization while Riss and Palagano (2011) offer suggestions for life management with practical ideas for personal success. 1. Make time for family. 2. Don’t compare yourself to others. 3. Stay in the moment and try to complete one task, then another; instead of multitasking. Multitasking can lead to quick burnout. 4. Meditate daily to keep your personality in check. It shouldn’t be set on ‘irritated’ all of the time. Commit to 10 minutes of exercise. 5. Find and keep someone to confide in so you can express yourself. 6. Limit sugar and caffeine 7. Write your worries down in two columns and label them: Things You Can Control and Things You Cannot Control. Take care of what you can control. Pray about the things you cannot control. 8. Focus, set limits, and do what matters most. 9. Practice saying No! The first time you do this, the tank will be running over…refueled at maximum capacity! 10. Keep a sense of humor. I have learned to recognize the negative pressure and stress habits in my own life. Rushing to work on time or a few minutes late is a set up for a bad start of the day; therefore, forging forward, I am working each day to arrive a little earlier to avoid traffic delays and a stack of phone calls and problems waiting for attention. I have learned that on days when I arrive early, I have time to answer early morning emails and voice mails. In our rushed and busy world, we typically eat, walk, talk, and work at the same time. Learning to separate meals from work gives a much needed break from mental stress. While learning to separate work from “things” it is important to separate work from personal life so the weekends and evenings can be spent guilt-free, (Gmelch, 1996). 71
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Refuel, Recharge and Refresh. After considering the suggestions from others about managing a job and life for women executives, I have a few important lessons to share! Remember to be yourself and acknowledge the need to refuel, recharge and refresh. Command your morning by starting early, speaking success into existence and being mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally ready for each new day. Connect with positive supporters who hold you accountable but understand and communicate your vision. Your body takes a beating and to keep on ticking, you will need to tend to minor repairs, changing out what makes you stall or not move at all. Perhaps recharging means drinking a tall glass of blackberry tea on the back patio or maybe it means spending the day with grandkids and then starting over again. Identify high pay-off activities and reduce your involvement in less meaningful, low pay-off activities. If attending a monthly meeting is a low pay-off activity, weigh the options and reduce or eliminate participation and move to being involved in a high pay-off activity. Here is a list of my favorite fun and relaxing activities that serve as batteries to recharge my busy and stressful life as a woman school executive. Learn to golf, swim, fish, play tennis, run a marathon, learn a new hobby. Take a day off and enjoy yourself. Shop out of town, out of state, just shop! Plan a weekend get-a-way and actually follow through and get away!
Spend time with family and friends. Create a list of to do’s like a bucket list. Do something for yourself. Call a friend and have breakfast together. Plan vacation time and stick to it! Spend time with those who affirm you. Start an annual “skip” day and go out of town with a special family member or friend. Get away from it all in the middle of the week.
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Read a good book. Take care of yourself…hair appointments, manicures, pedicures…etc… Attend a concert, jazz festival, gospel music fest, etc… Get a massage in the middle of a crisis! Get regular physicals and try to remain in good health…drink plenty of water and eat healthy! Join groups that promote Women Executives. Seek guidance from pioneers in the business. Attend conferences that promote and support women in leadership. Consider career changes if all else fails. Remember someone else has a story worse than yours. Whatever your selected hobby or activity for refueling, recharging and refreshing, do it. The many individuals entrusted in your care are depending on you to break loose and rid yourself of the stress traps. Quitting is not an option. As stated by pioneer leader, Lu Stephens, the key to success is to never give up allowing your light and beacon to be the power in never quitting. You might change positions or organizations, but quitting is not an option for women leaders. While leading through turbulence and uncommon change, McIntosh (2012) reminds the woman school executive to realize her value and relevance in providing a safe passageway. Finally, as you refuel, recharge and refresh, remember there are other aspiring women executives just beginning the journey. As one with many rich and memorable experiences, please don’t forget the importance of mentoring others who cross your pathway so they too can experience the joy of survival and success during and after the amazing journey!
References Brunner, C.C. (1999). Sacred dreams: Women and the superintendency. Albany: State University of New York Press. Gmelch, W. (1996). Breaking out of superintendent stress traps: Job related stress. Schoo Administrator 53, 32-39. 73
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McIntosh, M. (2012). Move that bus. eJournal of Texas Council of Women School Executives,1. Retrieved from http://www.tcwse.org/jtcwse, Riss, S. & Palagano, T. (2011). It’s your turn: Working mom survival guide. Working Mother magazine book, Weldon Owen, Inc. Ross, S. (2012). Women of power. e-Journal of Texas Council of Women School Executives,1. Retrieved from http://www.tcwse.org/jtcwse
Dr. Sharon Ross enjoys “recharging” with her husband, Robbie, children, grandchildren and family! This creative leader, Superintendent of Jefferson ISD, is passionate about improving educational experiences. firstname.lastname@example.org
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 TEACHER, YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE Elizabeth A. Clark, Ed.D. I see thousands of children Spread out across this land, Each of them with special needs and Placed within our hands. So many little faces, Each with wondering eyes, Eager, searching, believing, doubting And ever asking, “Why?” These children pass by daily, Many without a name, But still their plight is known to us Although we treat them just the same. Who among us will be their champion? Who will take up their cause? Who will pause long enough to say, “Don’t worry, you’re not alone today.” You say “I’m only a teacher, What difference can I make? I can’t even teach them all they need Let alone, deal with their future fate.” Yes, it’s true you are a teacher. Oh! What a noble call you heard. You have the power to heal the soul, Unchain the shackles, open the mind’s closed door. Look! See the children that stand before you. Each of them God’s precious gift, Pass on to them the torch of knowledge, Help build a brotherhood of man. You may not know you’re their only chance But a teacher can make the difference.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Dr. Elizabeth Clark is a lecturer at the University of Houston Clear Lake. She is a retired administrator of 39 years, formerly Chief Academic Officer with the Katy Independent School District. While she has been very involved in many professional organizations, her primary involvement is now with Texas Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (where she has served as president), Texas Council of School Women Executives, (where she has served as president), and the Texas Association of School Administrators.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 It’s Really Just Kids and Teachers Barbara Quails, Superintendent Ennis ISD
The concept of ‘flipped classroom’ is not one that administrators can practice easily, but it is possible to return to the classroom for a day or so. After several days as a substitute teacher and student, one’s appreciation of the demands of school takes on a name and face. The savvy and sophistication of students is breath-taking and trying to maintain pace with them is an unexpected challenge. Al Gore doesn’t have a corner on the market for smug preaching about energy conservation. We’ve got more than our share of that in my school district, earned through a campus v. campus contest in lowering kilowatt hour usage. I’m not saying we’re holding school in the zeroelectricity dark, but some campuses really like to win. The prize for being the monthly winner has lots of little perks like a Jeans Day, gift cards for the housekeeping staff, recognition at the Board meeting and so forth. The big enchilada, though, is a drawing among teachers for a day off, with their administrator-of-choice from the Head Shed as their substitute. As superintendent, I had the dubious honor of being chosen almost every month. If surviving countless midnight executive session Board meetings hadn’t taught me humility, duty in the car loop did! Although High School never won the contest, I got to spend a day there shadowing a student’s schedule as part of an assignment in a superintendent transformational leadership program. That experience, just like substitute teaching, was a vast eye-opener for a superintendent who perhaps had become too comfortable in the Head Shed. The following observations are my open letters to the staff of each of the schools that allowed me to visit semi-incognito. My Day As a First Grade Teacher Decades ago, when I decided I wanted to be a school teacher, I knew that I needed to teach big kids. I think babies and small children are incredibly cute and have always had a hard time doling out punishment, even when it is obviously needed. A well-placed tear or sniffle? I fold up like a house of cards. Until I got to Bowie Elementary, the youngest kids I’ve ever taught were sixth graders. Even then, it was sixth grade band, which was only one class period per day. All the rest of my teaching time was spent with mid-to-older teenagers. When I was informed that Mr. McCain Bodie (excellent first grade teacher) had selected me as his substitute in our Energy Contest pay out, I really had a little flash of terror. While I was and am extremely flattered to have been chosen, I suffered all during the Christmas holidays with imaginary scenarios like a group of 77
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 organized six-year-olds making a break across the back yard and storming City Hall. I visited with Mr. Bodie on Thursday to perform a reconnaissance mission – to get the lay of the land. I listened, I learned, I took notes. I thought I knew where stuff was supposed to be kept. But as it turned out, I was woefully inadequate in the ‘put papers in the correct tub’ category. And I had several would-be Simon Cowells point out that deficiency. Another big gap in my preparation was the location of the Treasure Chest and method of distribution of its contents. Apparently, when one does exceptionally well, one receives a sticker (which, by the way, are stuck to the backing with some kind of NASA-strength super glue) and an opportunity to fish through the Treasure Chest to select an object commemorating the success. I lost several hard-earned respect points when I didn’t even know where the Treasure Chest was. One physical challenge is rest room time. You just don’t leave 20 six-year-olds alone while you slip off to the powder room to refresh the lipstick. For that reason, your new best friend becomes the fellow teacher who shares ‘duty’ – you take turns monitoring both classes while the other teacher takes care of business. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mrs. Horner! The First Grade Team at Bowie had prepared for my visit, even to having a small brownie-bites break at mid-afternoon. This weekend, as I passed the bakery table at HEB, I did a quick calculation about how many mini-breaks the brownies displayed would have supplied. Not nearly enough. The children were terrific! While they clearly love Mr. Bodie, they welcomed me without questions about my politics, whether I use Botox or any of the other points on which we sometimes categorize people. What was breath taking was the immediate and complete trust that all 20 of the children gave so freely. What a tremendous responsibility that is – I am extremely proud that our district has such a large group of teachers who accept that trust every day and use those precious hours to give our children a jump-start on a long and happy life. My Day Substituting at Crockett ECC For several weeks, I’ve been anxiously anticipating my substitute day at Crockett Early Childhood Center. Because Crockett won January’s Energy Contest, a teacher from that campus got a day off with their Sub of Choice – in other words, me. The very deserving teacher at Crockett was Francine Coleman. After Mrs. Coleman chose me as her substitute (!), she and I compared calendars and found a mutually acceptable day – Friday February 24. I visited with Mrs. Coleman the day before to sort of get the lay of the land, meet the students, learn how to work the SmartBoard and generally try to amass enough information to stay afloat when I was on my own the next day. Part of my orientation was to participate in Car Loop Duty. 78
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 This task involves listening carefully to a scratchy walkie-talkie where it sounds as if someone on another planet calls out the teacher’s last name and the child’s first name. The lovely lady who handles the generator end of the walkie-talkie system has a beautiful and melodious voice. It’s just that when run through the walkie-talkie, it sounds like distant Pig Latin. When the names align, the teacher/sub takes the child by the hand and delivers him/her to the appropriate car, opens the door, removes the backpack, buckles the kid into the car seat, then closes the door. When it was my turn, I stuffed my first child into the empty, inviting bucket seat right next to his mother. She looked at me with that Mom Squint that says “You don’t do this regularly, do you?” I proudly rejoined the other teachers, who were hooting and laughing about how I was supposed to put the child in the back seat, not the front. Of course. I knew that. As I quickly learned, one short afternoon of preparation is a laughable amount of time to devote to this task – to say nothing of Car Loop Duty in high heels! On Friday, as instructed, I arrived at 7:00 AM, dressed appropriately for PreK success, parked where I was told and went to my classroom to wait for the arrival of my 21 cherubic PreKindergarten students-for-a-day. Nobody told me how smart they are! Within minutes, every child in the room had my number and it was zero. From 7:35 AM until the last little kid was tucked into their mom’s SUV, they played me like a ukulele. When Recess Time came, I asked a solemn leader-type kid where we were supposed to go. Without a blink, he said “Trike Path.” Well. First, it’s to the little cart with the hats – trike helmets with a pointy back end and hopelessly tangled chin straps. Each child gets one and it must be fastened firmly without choking. Not easy. Everybody also has a favorite hat – and it’s always the one on the bottom. Then, out to the storage shed to get the trikes. That involves a 21-kid parade trip to Assistant Principal Mrs. Owen to get the key. Smart Mrs. Owen went back to the shed with me. I’m not trustworthy with The Key. I am almost crying with gratitude that she is there to help sort out the two-seaters, one-seaters and who gets what. After what seems like the blink of an eye, all the sweet and smart children are gone and my PreK Day is over. They have read, they counted, they planned, they organized. The amount of growth that takes place every day is phenomenal. While my mentor Mrs. Coleman is very special, she is just one of a whole building full of exceptional educators. How lucky their students are! Thank you, Crockett ECC, for a wonderful day. My First Grade Day at Austin Well, it’s happened again. I got a grand opportunity to spend a whole day on campus as a teacher-in-disguise. This time, I was chosen to be the substitute for Megan Clark, first grade teacher at Austin Elementary. Of course, after my stints at Bowie and Crockett, I’m now an
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 experienced elementary educator – much laughter would occur if I had the courage to say that last sentence aloud! As I have come to expect, Mrs. Clark had an extensive and detailed plan ready for me. She and I visited a while on the Thursday before my Friday performance and she patiently answered every silly question I had, including “Where do I park?” Mrs. Clark clearly loves her young charges and had a positive word for me about each one. Although I’m sure she was looking forward to her Friday Without Work, she also seemed just a little bit anxious about how this role shift would pan out. Austin principal Denise Winnett met me on Friday morning – with a breakfast treat in hand! She, also, must have had concerns about whether I’d have the stamina to make it all the way to lunch. The other first grade teachers turned out en masse to help. I also think there was little of that human nature instinct that makes us slow down on the road when we see a fellow traveler stopped by the Highway Patrol – a healthy measure of genuine concern but also a little stirred by the possibility of seeing someone else in serious trouble! Much of the lesson for Friday involved the SmartBoard, which the kids know like the backs of their little hands. My chief contribution was in turning the thing on, then tapping the icons that were too high for the kids to reach. What a rush! I’m taller than somebody! Among the many happy observations that I had that day, the one that will endure for quite a while is how kind and helpful the children are for each other. Make no mistake: Tattle-Tale is alive and well in first grade, but every kid tried to help his/her table mate finish little projects and put away materials at the right time. These small acts of kindness took place without (much) coaxing and certainly without any concern on their part about gender or ethnicity. What a challenge it would be to keep that natural tolerance and acceptance in place all the way through high school! I would estimate that I tied about 200 shoelaces during the course of the day, even though there were only 40 small feet in the room. The big logistic moment of the day, though, came with the temporary loss of a tooth. One young lady had her newly separated tooth in a plastic toothy thing around her neck so that she could share that excitement with everyone else prior to the monetary exchange with the Tooth Fairy that night. Somehow, the real tooth was lost during PE. Thank goodness for Mrs. Winnett! She embarked on a tooth hunt; it was found and the world was made right. An unexpected treat came from a veteran educator who has probably launched more young citizens than any other four teachers combined, Ruby Casillas. To commemorate my Austin
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Adventure, Mrs. Casillas whipped up a sinful chocolate, marshmallow, pecan creation that just slipped right out of the pan and attached itself to thighs and hips. What a warm, inviting and secure place Austin Elementary is! It is obvious that the staff operates as a well-oiled machine, supporting and complementing each other. The kids who are educated there are lucky and I am grateful that Austin Elementary is an integral part of our district. Thank you for a wonderful day. High School as a Faux-Student OMG! I’m in the hall with hundreds of kids and I’m the only one without a backpack! As if that’s the only difference… Amazing how quickly the mind adapts to its environment. These kids are all in ‘uniform dress’ (our PC version of the hated ‘dress code’) but the backpacks look like a Lady Bird Johnson wildflower meadow. Even the boys have shiny Day-Glo Quasimodo humps on their backs. A girl just swanned past me – and her backpack is in my Vera Bradley print (Very Berry Paisley). I wonder if she’d think it a good thing that she and I like the same fashion statement. My first class is AP English 4. The room is small and with all the kids inside, it’s a little cozy. I say hello to Mr. Campbell but don’t give a lot of information about why I’m here. I like him – we have mutual friends and acquaintances from the town where I served as high school principal. It’s good to see connections and success. There is an abundance of enrichment material everywhere – almost dizzying. Stuff on the boards, inspirational posters, serious acknowledgement of Clan Campbell. Every kid who passes through here will have a sensory overload of memory. After a short review (after all, a weekend and a Friday have elapsed since they were here last), the class dives into the deep end of poetry with an examination of Donne’s metaphysical conceits. One thing I love – teacher and kids use rich and colorful facile vocabulary. There is no grunting and pointing, shrugging of shoulders. In fact, we even try out accents to match what we imagine would be the sound of the poet himself reading his work. Sadly, most sound a little like late night BBC talk show hosts – or Ozzy Osbourne. Next, I try to pass as an AP Physics kid. I didn’t pass – with either definition of that infinitive. When I arrive (on time – my biggest accomplishment in this class), Mrs. Fira is in the hall conferring with a small group of kids. Another teacher alerts her to my presence. While I am frequently on campus, I’m usually moving pretty fast and not necessarily nesting into a classroom. I give Mrs. Fira a rudimentary explanation about why I’m here and she begins class. Today’s plan is for kids to be able to work on their individual projects – in the room, in the lab, in the computer area – or work through an electrical circuitry problem she has prepared. All kids
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 choose to stay in the classroom/lab and work on the electrical circuits. They move naturally into small groups of two and three and begin work. The pace is purposeful but with no sense of haste. Kids know the drill. This problem is to wire up a big card with a circuit that turns on a short strand of Christmas tree lights with a little battery. Kids work in tandem – one holds the base, another threads little short wires in and out of holes, tying off this wire, splicing that one. Most of them get illumination on the first or second try, then they play with all kinds of odd combinations. As in life, some of those combinations light up, others just sit there dark. What is remarkable is the butterfly light touch of the teacher. She moves from group to group with a corrective suggestion, a personal observation, question about a college visit, encouragement about a scholarship application. At the end of the class, we all know a lot more than we did before about parallel and serial circuits. And a little more about how to pool our intellectual resources to solve problems in a safe and caring place. I am so relieved. It is time for lunch. As much as I love my iPad, it feels good to pack it up in its little sleeve and go converse with a few grownups. I sit with the principals and we’re talking about truly important administrative topics – but I’m still thinking about John Donne’s poetry and sparkly Christmas lights. My last visit is in AP Economics. What was I thinking? There is no educational event that Ruth Strunc hasn’t experienced before and her skeptical acceptance of my lame explanation about why my iPad and I have dropped into her realm makes me really glad I’m telling the truth. To Ruth. She has a complex example of terms of trade and international trade displayed on the Smartboard. A kid moves items into the appropriate cells to create tiny artificial economies in a world comprised of two countries. The concept of diminishing returns – or how specialization has initial benefits but leads to dependence is thought provoking. Of course, it is supposed to provoke thought. This sleek blend of mathematics, probability, politics, human nature, desire for autonomy would lead one to believe that economics is the quintessential academic discipline. Eco Rules. Mrs. Strunc’s bottomless knowledge of this subject and her command of the technological resources enfold the students and keep them on the academic road and safely between the ditches of failure. Now there’s some kind of literary conceit, Mr. Campbell. Probably not all that metaphysical, though. Just skidding along on the surface of High School is great fun. Dipping into the instructional life, even for just a tiny slice of time, is humbling. These teachers and kids know intuitively what transformation is all about. They are techies but techies with purpose. They are problem solvers but with parameters and discipline. Today, they taught me.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Lesson Learned School is about those two groups that define it – kids and teachers, whether it’s little people on trikes or big ones playing with Christmas lights, young instructors with Treasure Chests or veterans demonstrating microeconomies. Last spring, I participated in a transformational leadership program where we were all encouraged to do much more than think outside a box – we were required to act as if there were no box. That perspective helped establish my “undercover” roles as student and teacher. My time as a student as well as the energy-contestwinner-substitute-teacher experience gave me a graphic and tactile re-definition of those two groups of people who make up School – kids and their teachers. There is no joy or honor greater than getting to lead them.
Barbara Qualls is superintendent of Ennis ISD and has served Texas schools as superintendent, principal, curriculum director and best of all, Director of Bands.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 It’s The M.I.L.E.S. in the Journey by Dr. Karla Moyer
October 7, 2011. Lying in bed, I wasn’t sure if I was awake or dreaming that spider webs were falling on me. I kept whisking my hand over my face, attempting to brush the disturbing tickle away. As I sat up and turned to make the bed, I realized the dream was my dreaded nightmare; I was wide awake. My feet were on the ground. The chemotherapy was running its course. In comparison, the other side-effects were benign. Salt-and-peppered wisps fell helplessly on my pillow. Random baldness showed. My hair shed like my horse’s winter coat---God’s sign for the changing of the seasons. I woke my precious fourteen-year-old daughter, Jillian, with a mother’s kiss and a nudge to forewarn her that the time had come. In those memorable moments before my loving husband Gary reluctantly shaved my head, Jillian remarked, “Mom, hair is over-rated. Your hair is just an accessory. Now, people will see your halo.” Thirty minutes after the hair and tears were gone; I pretended to be a peacock---strutting my invisible feathers. Again, to my surprise Jillian added “Mom, you look like a sexy-biker-chick! All you’re missing are the tattoos.” As we laughed I thanked God for my earth angel and echoed the sentiment through my depressed brain . . . all I’m missing are tattoos…and boobs.
There was a young girl, undergoing chemo, who awoke one morning with only three-strands of hair. She looked in the mirror that day and pondered, “How should I wear my hair today? I know! I’ll wear it in a braid!” The next day the girl awoke with two-strands of hair. “Today, I’ll wear my hair in pig tails!” The day after that the girl awoke with only one-strand of hair. “I think I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail.” The fourth day the girl awoke with no hair on her head. She looked in the mirror, smiled, and proclaimed with confidence – Perfect! I won’t have a bad hair day!”
As the morning clock ticked, I took another deep breath and pulled my storebought hair from the closet. It caressed my raw, blistered scalp and gave me enough confidence to face my world.
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Months passed. It became easier to accept my baldness. Blessings and humor bloomed by leaning on my faith, family, and friends. My hair began to sprout and stubbles thickened; I shunned the wigs and scarves. I accessorized my new “do” with more makeup, brighter lipstick and jewelry that blinged. All decked out in my new look, I stood in the school lunch line with a few firstgraders. An inquisitive young girl looked up and asked me, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Although not politically correct, I smiled and proudly replied, “A girl. That’s why I’m wearing earrings and lipstick.” With a puzzled look, she questioned, “Then, why don’t you have hair?” Knowing the conversation needed to be age-appropriate and brief (the lunch line was moving fast), I responded “I got sick and the medicine made my hair fall out”. With a serious look she proclaimed “That’s why I don’t like medicine.” Other precious comments were brought to my attention. Like the middle school student who didn’t know I had cancer and thought I was “the coolest superintendent for shaving my head.” I grew to appreciate the benefits of baldness. Financially speaking, the money saved on shampoo and razor blades was a bonus. Environmentally, shower time and water usage were reduced. Most of all, I enjoyed the time redeemed from the rituals of prepping either for bed or social events. The most obvious advantage---I NEVER had a bad hair day! Life goes on with or without hair. Time and milestones have passed since the breast cancer was detected (6/28/2011); the bi-lateral mastectomy performed (8/25/2011); the last chemotherapy infused (1/3/2012); the prosthetic breasts implanted (2/1/2012); the last Herceptin infused (9/11/2012); the colonoscopy humiliation (9/10/2012); the portacath removed and more reconstructive surgery (9/21/2012); AND the final step of reconstructive surgery - two tattoos (12/21/2012). In the future, I plan to attend my daughter’s high school graduation, my son’s college graduation; and celebrate my 5-year marker (1/3/2016), sporting a lotus blossom tattoo, indicating that I am cancer free. Today my health, energy, and focus are returning. I am the same, but different. Prosthetics have replaced my breasts. Curls have replaced my baldness. Joy has replaced despair. And---by the Grace of God---beauty, hope and blessings surround me. My faith, family, friends, and fortitude supported me through this nightmare. Leaning on these, I am prepared for the journey ahead.
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SPECIAL NOTE: If you are a woman or you care about a woman, focus on your M.I.L.E.S:
Mammogram screenings – make time for monthly self-exams and a yearly screening by a medical professional; Inner voice and intuition – listen to your inner voice and intuition. Both know when something is right or wrong; Lean on your Faith, family, friends and fortitude for strength and comfort. Exercise and eat right to combat cancer, dementia, and depression. State of Mind – Focus on your blessings. Do the M.I.L.E.S and YOU will overcome any obstacle on your journey!
Karla Moyer has over twenty-five years of diverse educational experiences. Currently, she is the Region 13 Sr. Coordinator of Human Resources and the TCWSE Region 13 Representative. She has served as Superintendent of Schools, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Special Programs, Curriculum & Instruction, Staff Development, principal and classroom teacher. Dr. Moyer is a passionate advocate for public education. When she is not volunteering, she can be found riding and driving her horses, or adventuring on her motorcycles.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 Labyrinth for Leadership Dr. Charli Caraway Restoring Joy Ministries Recently, my family visited Corpus Christi, Texas where the All Saints’ Episcopal Church has a beautiful labyrinth that they generously open to the public. I ventured to take my parents and my three children to see the cultural structure. It was our first visit to a labyrinth site and I had hopes for a great lesson in culture and the arts—especially for my children. However, the most salient lesson was in my own leadership reflection. The reflection itself was a phenomenological experience and laid a significant framework for my understanding of my own leadership (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). The labyrinth is meant to be a walk with God. It is a path that winds and twists—seemingly a maze at first. However, it was not a maze. In fact, labyrinth experts will staunchly defend the labyrinth’s non-maze existence. Cabello and Burstein (1995) discussed the significance of predisposed beliefs and the lack of leadership growth without the experience of unique phenomena. As I walked, I experienced the phenomena of the walk and the reflection therein. I realized that with careful, steady steps taken at a slow pace, I learned as much about myself as I did God’s plan for my life. I realized that the labyrinth was more than a manmade creation. I experienced my own revelations and epiphanies in the perfect meeting of carpentry, geometry, science, meditation, and reflection. The construction and design The labyrinth was made of two kinds of wood flooring. It was beautifully laid, and of course, perfectly symmetrical. It was divided into four perfect quadrants of twists, turns and curves. It had an obvious beginning and an obvious ending. The center was a flower and above the flower on the ceiling was a beautiful stained glass window of Christ. It was pleasing to the eye, but if I looked at it as a whole too long, I began to see that there was no way to keep the lines and the paths in focus. They all began to run together. I also noticed as I walked that with every step each match of the wood grains and cuts of the saw were perfectly fit together. When I focused on the single spot in which I walked, moment by moment, I could see how several given elements had come together working simultaneously to make that step, that part of the path, work perfectly in that single spot. Yet, as I moved on, I depended on those elements of the wood to work together in a similar fashion to provide the new portion of my path. The path always ran straight in front of me or behind me…and when I would venture a look to the left or right of the path, the design would interrupt and become imbalanced. Margaret Wheatley (1999) discussed the order found in the chaos of leadership scenarios as necessary for definitive leadership experience. The path in front is the only one in which to travel and should never be seen as a hindrance but only a chance to change the relative perspective of the leader. I learned, one great element of the labyrinth is that its walkway is never a dead end…the path behind me was always a reflective path and the path before me was always a contemplative path which reminded me of Proverbs 4:26-27 which states, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” (NIV)
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 The walk The walk itself was intriguing. I walked the labyrinth in and out twice. The first time, I simply walked to accustom myself to the feel and nature of the labyrinth. I noticed that I had to concentrate on my footsteps and the path I was on. In a short time, it was easy to let the noise and interruptions of my children fade as I became consumed with my own existence within the exercise. Every few minutes I would look up to see where I stood in the big picture, but I had to completely stop in order to do so. Thus, it was not a task I repeated often. On my second turn at the labyrinth, I began to focus on God and what He would desire to teach me and speak to me in this experience. After all, I expected there to be a Divine experience in my endeavors. Reliving such phenomena brings depth and solidarity to the learning experience overall (Maher, 2003). Initially, I began to see that the clarity of the beginning and the end are like the beginning and end of life…they are clear and without argument. Then I realized it was what we do between the beginning and the end that really matters—it is the pattern of our lives (Wheatley, 1999). That realization held the metaphorical existence of an ocean of paths, curves and turns the labyrinth, or life, contains. The path starts simply—there is no question or confusion about where to start walking. However, soon, the path becomes like parts of the path one’s already crossed and thus reflection opens the mind to one’s own history—one’s own life lessons. Just as I would become familiar and confident on one path, the path would change—like life, it was perpetual propulsion. With each curve I began to think about the curves the Lord has given me in my own life. I even found myself anticipating the curves ahead. The curves and paths soon began to form quadrants and before I knew it, I’d glance up to see that within the labyrinth I’d mapped out eras of my own life. I’d also, simultaneously, mapped out eras of my leadership development. And, as I went from one quadrant to the next, I synonymously walked into the next era of my life mentally...knowing all the while that the past era was still present within me. In fact, I realized that my current era of contemplation, or my present quadrant, was a fortuitous gain possible only through the journey in the last. With each quadrant I gained greater respect for my own history and the paths on which God has led me. I began to have clarity in the development of my leadership strengths and how God had intentionally, and purposefully built them. I began to experience what Maher (2003) indicates results in reflection and dialogic exercise in the immersion of a phenomena. And, as Maher learned, I learned that I was forced into a mindset of criticality that helped me grow personally. Growth in leadership Like the construction of the labyrinth, we are uniquely and perfectly designed by God. Often there is an excitement, an appeal, in the beauty of leadership--especially Christian leadership. But, we must remember that leadership involves people. Just as the labyrinth can become dizzying if we stare at the whole existence, people and their humanness can as well. Sometimes, we must completely stop, be still, and listen to the Lord (Psalm 46:10). Only in the quiet can we begin to anticipate the curves ahead. The rosette in the middle of the labyrinth has six curvatures representing the states of being, growing, feeling, thinking, knowing, and unknowing. As I reflect, I realize that I am seeking to reach the Divine center, the rosette, in my leadership. Dewey (1997) defined this journey as a continuum which perpetuates continued learning. Since I am God’s child, I will seek to grow in His presence, seek peace in His mercy and grace, dwell on
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 His countenance, desire to grow in His wisdom, and forever marvel in His mysteryâ€”my own continuum of perpetual learning.
Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 References Dewey, J. (1997). Experience & education. New York: Simon & Schuster. Maher, M. J. (2003). Individual beliefs and cultural immersion in service-learning: Examination of a reflective process. The Journal of Experiential Education, 26(2), 88-96. Cabello, B., & Burstein, N.D. (1995). Examining teachersâ€™ beliefs about teaching in culturally diverse classrooms. Journal of Teacher Education, 46(4), 285-294. Strauss, A. C., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. California: Sage Publications, Inc. Wheatley, M. (1999). The new science: Discovering order in a chaotic world. California: Berrett-Koehler, Inc.
Dr. Charli Caraway has progressed from teaching and leading through public school education, church service, and university positions to her current calling as director of a charitable organization that works to meet the needs of displaced women in East Texas. email@example.com
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Creative Works Picture Thisâ€Ś
We are always inspired and amazed at the creativity of women school executives. The following author combines creativity and personal reflection in a way enriches our understanding. Metaphor is the bridge to new understanding. We make meaning for ourselves and share the pictured meaning with others.
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On a warm July evening in the summer of 2012, I was inspired to take a photo of the skyscrapers in downtown Houston, Texas. While walking back to a hotel with colleagues after a day at the CAMT math conference, I glanced up at the giant structures and was fascinated by the reflections of the neighboring buildings mirrored on the surface. As I “reflected” on the photo in the weeks after returning home, I couldn’t help but think of leadership. As leaders, our accomplishments are not all our own. The value of others’ contributions should be reflected in our work. I created a poster to remind me of this as I strive to build a learning community and empower future leaders.
Jana Garner is a principal in Forney ISD. She has 30 years of experience in education, including 8 years as an administrator. In 2010, she completed the UT-Tyler Superintendent Certification program. Jana.firstname.lastname@example.org
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From Monograph to Journal The Journal of Women School Executives owes a debt of gratitude to the fifteen years of TCWSE monographs. We applaud these publications for their excellence and the editors and authors for their valuable contributions. Women as School Executives: A Powerful Paradigm (1993) Editors: Genevieve Brown, Sam Houston State University Beverly J. Irby, Sam Houston State University
Women as School Executives: Voices and Visions (1995) Editors: Beverly J. Irby, Sam Houston State University Genevieve Brown, Sam Houston State University
Women as School Executives: Realizing the Vision (1998) Editors: Carole Funk, Texas Woman's University Anita Pankake, Texas A&M University - Commerce Marianne Reese, Southwest Texas State University
Women as School Executives: The Complete Picture (2000) Editors: Anita Pankake, Texas A&M University - Commerce Gwen Schroth, Texas A&M University - Commerce Carole Funk, Texas Woman's University
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Women as School Executives: Research and Reflections on Educational Leadership (2002) Editors: Stephanie A. Korcheck, Baylor University Marianne Reese, Southwest Texas State University
Women as School Executives: Leadership: A Bridge to Ourselves (2005) Editors: Sandra Harris, Lamar University Betty Alford, Stephen F. Austin State University Julia Ballenger, Stephen F. Austin State University
Women as School Executives: Celebrating Diversity (2008) Editors: Danna M. Beaty, Tarleton State University Whitney H. Sherman, Old Dominion University Ava J. Mu単oz, The University of Texas-Pan American Shirley J. Mills, The University of Texas-Pan American Anita M. Pankake, The University of Texas-Pan American
Copies of these publications are available. Contact Ann Halstead for more information.