This week is off to an AMAZING start with the publication of my white paper entitled “The New Leaders on the Block: Why Teacher Leadership & Shared Vision are Vital to NC Schools” by Education NC! Teacher leadership is the key to transformation in our schools, & I am proud to share a few ways to help school & district leaders cultivate teacher leadership & shared vision in NC Schools! #proudprincipal #publicedu #EDNC #education #motivation#moldmaker #scholarvlogger
Moldmakers, the #BeingFearless challenge is on for the month of April, & I am challenging you to be fearless in your thoughts, actions, & your words. Let’s stop being fearful & allowing fear to consume our thoughts, & let’s start being fearless today!
NC Educators let’s speak up in 2016! Let your voices be heard in Tuesday’s primary election.
This was truly a month of celebration from having the opportunity to witness my amazing mentee, Jessica celebrate her many accomplishments through the Tomorrow Fund to keynoting the Black History Month program at a local church. Thank you for joining me on this scholarly journey!
Be inspired. Educate yourself. Motivate others. – The Scholar Vlogger
One year ago, I posted my first video on YouTube & thus began my journey as the Scholar Vlogger. I purposed myself to lead a social media project that cultivated moldmakers through inspiration, education, & motivation. I called out to individuals from all walks of life in healthcare, public education, non-profit, & the private sector to fervently seek their passions & fulfill their purpose. Throughout this endeavor, I have learned a lot about myself, people, & the overall human condition. People are in desperate need of belonging to something greater than themselves. No matter the impact of the cause, people want to belong – to a group of friends, loved ones, online communities, their colleagues, & the list goes on & on. I have found, however, that defining oneself as a “moldmaker” oftentimes can you leave you outside of this belonging. Being a moldmaker, forces you to shatter society’s definition of “normal” & step into undefined, undiscovered, & uneven territory – alone.
“It’s easy to stand with the crowd. It takes courage to stand alone.” The beauty of moldmaking is that while you may start out alone, but you end up with a community of like-minded, grateful individuals who are willing to stand beside you for a greater cause. When I started my YouTube channel, I spent hours watching famous YouTubers with ten thousand, one hundred thousand & even a million subscribers! I observed their intros, their lighting, the way they edited their videos, & even took time to read the comments from their faithful fans. From natural hair gurus to makeup artists & DIYers to yoga enthusiasts, all of these individuals had one thing in common – they were making videos about the thing they were most passionate & knowledgeable about. That is when it hit me. Although my videos about inspiration, education, & motivation were all things that I was deeply passionate about, I was not making videos about the one thing I am the most knowledgeable about – being a school leader!
It does take courage to stand alone, but public education needs a revolution, a makeover, a rebranding of sorts. I am a moldmaker in the field of education, & this year I am rededicating myself to be a champion for public education. Society’s perception of the current education system is skewed & unrealistic. If more people were knowledgeable about the needs of our students, our teachers, & our school leaders then authentic change could begin. Also the perception of public educators needs a major facelift. We are not all jean-jumper-wearing, white-Ked-rocking, apples-for-button-covers individuals with little to no personalities as the media would have most to believe. We are a cornucopia of talented, passionate, unique, stylish, & innovative people who pledge to educate our youth. It is time to begin a rebranding campaign for education & for moldmakers.
This year, I pledge to bring more moldmakers to the forefront; to connect more people with their passion & purpose; to fervently seek my own intellectual, spiritual, & emotional pursuits; & to not only start the revolution in public education, but be the revolution as well. Here’s to another year of shattering molds & making our own!
The Scholar Vlogger
The moldmaker featured this week is not only by best friend from our college days at Meredith in North Carolina, but she is a lawyer who is redefining the legal & fashion game in the Big Apple. I am so proud of this intelligent & beautiful woman, & I am proud to call her my bestie. Check out this amazing blog post from Nineteenth Amendment that featured Shannon in their latest edition!
In honor of the Principals & PhDs series, it was my pleasure to interview Artistic Expressions by Elisabeth. She is currently pursuing her Masters in School Administration & is truly a moldmaker in her own right. Be sure to check out her blog at: http://blog.artisticexpressionsbyelisabeth.com/ & follow her on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ArtisticExpressionsE.
Scholar Vlogger: What is the one thing that inspires/motivates you?
Elisabeth: In the Akan culture, the mythical Sankofa bird flies forward while its head is turned backwards to retrieve the egg from its back. This symbolizes the importance of looking into our past to truly understand our present and our future. In my culture, there is a rich oral history. Storytelling is a way to pay homage to the past. Throughout my life I have heard stories of hardships that have faced my people, obstacles that have been overcome, testimonies of faith, and songs of endurance.Even as an adult, I still love to hear people’s personal stories. I love to hear them tell their own account of how they have reached or are reaching their goals.Everyone’s story so far is so unique and I love that. What I’ve noticed is that no matter who is telling the story, those who are truly obtaining their goals have always faced obstacles and have been victorious. I literally feel excitement when I hear the passion in someone’s voice as they share their life’s journey. Their stories motivate me to continue pursuing my own dreams. I will note that to truly appreciate someone else’s stories, you have to learn that you are a unique individual and therefore your own story doesn’t have to be a mirror image of theirs. To truly embrace their story, you have to embrace your own.
Scholar Vlogger: Would you consider yourself a “moldmaker”? If so, why?
Elisabeth: Would I consider myself a moldmaker? Honestly, until recently, I would have never considered myself to be a moldmaker. In my imagination, I considered a moldmaker to be someone who accomplished goals that were so impressive that they could not go unrecognized. I envisioned a moldmaker as someone who knew exactly what they wanted and strove for it. When I viewed myself, I categorized myself as a woman who always worked hard, who set mini goals along the way, and achieved those goals. And as she achieved one goal, it would lead to pursuing yet another goal…maybe in the same direction or maybe not. I don’t recall consciously setting out to shatter molds; however, in retrospect, the truth is, I’ve never quite fit into a mold! In my own way, from the very beginning, I was always different. The journey to who I’ve yet to become is not like anyone else’s, but it also wasn’t meant to be. I now realize that that’s what makes me a moldmaker.
Scholar Vlogger: Is there one piece of advice you would give to other moldmakers?
Elisabeth: One piece of advice that I would give other moldmakers is this: Never compare your journey to someone else’s because comparing yourself to someone else only cheats you out of becoming the person you were created to be. There is only one of you. Yes, others you encounter may be pursuing the same dream, but every experience in your life, every obstacle you’ve faced, every path that you have traveled is designed to help you become who you are meant to be. I have finally learned that the beauty of achieving your dreams is in the process. Sometimes we spend so much time focusing on the end goal that we miss that part. As I pursue my doctorate in Educational Leadership, I am truly enjoying the process. I want to get all that I can out of this grand experience, and I hope to inspire someone along the way. I encourage you to do the same!
There are moments in our life when the hustle & bustle of real life pauses…when there are no incoming call or text messages…when there are no pressing deadlines or projects due. It is in those moments that you find yourself alone with yourself. What do you do when you are alone with your thoughts? What internal conversations do you hold in your own mind? How do you turn down the volume to your innermost murmurings & dial up the volume on your deepest conscience?
For many of us, simply finding the time to breathe is a small victory. However, when you are able to glean quality time with yourself, you might find that your mind begins to hold a myriad of conversations on the stage of your brain. If you are like me, your mind wanders around to and fro tap dancing on every imaginable topic from career to family, what-ifs, why-didn’t-Is, and if-only-I-coulds. The beauty in this moment is that as the only living expert on you, it should be easy to control these conversations right? Wrong! The mind, unlike other parts of your body, consists of trillions of mental files on millions of different topics, experiences, and perspectives you have gleaned in your life’s journey. Put all of those combinations together, and your mind could literally wander for trillions of miles!
Moldmakers not only think outside the box, their minds wander outside the box as well. Learning to mentally control your cerebal pathways allows you to discover new ways of thinking about old concepts. But what happens when you cannot control your mind & you try to “turn it off?” What happens when you try to distract yourself from you?
Jessica Perianza found herself in this very situation recently. She is a vibrant & intelligent moldmaker & college student who is spending the summer immersed in the heart of academia. She has been afforded the opportunity to live in Cambridge, MA & work at the Avery Dennison headquarters in Westborough as a project management intern for the summer. Over the past few weeks, Jessica has been following her dreams & surprisingly found herself alone with herself. Below she gives us a detailed & intimate glimpse into her mental journey & what she found when she looked within…
Undergrad has been a gateway to growing as a professional, engineer, & leader in my community. At any given time I’m either at a meeting, class, volunteer event, or just spending my bits of free time with friends. Being alone in a completely new environment was an experience I had sought out for as long as I can remember. I envisioned a fresh, clean canvas where new friends would be made, delicious food would be consumed, and alone-time would be enjoyed. Surprisingly, it’s not the party I thought it would be…granted I have met wonderful people & I have eaten enough to feed an army. For the first time in my young adult life I have the ability to ask: what does Jessica want to do today? When? Where? How? With who? Turns out, Jessica has difficulty answering that simple question when structure is the one thing lacking, & so begins the cycle of figuring that out, sometimes for hours, which ends in frustration and often ice cream to repair the damage.
What’s one of the first things a friend will advise when you’re having a rough day? It often begins with, “Why not find something to distract yourself?”
Ah! That’s just it! I should not have to distract myself from …myself! My mind should be my safe haven from the craziness of the world and not the one thing that leaves me wondering if I fit the description for a lunatic. It’s easy nowadays to distract ourselves & avoid spending time alone. To blanket unwanted thoughts or empty gaps of time with short rushes of euphoria obtained from food, exercise, other people, or sleep. No appointments are made to enjoy the silence within us. So now that I find myself with a 3 month long stay with my mind… I have the knee jerk reaction of rescheduling with concerts, trips, and (you guessed it) food. Don’t get me wrong, it’s healthy to enjoy the pleasures of travel. I just don’t want it to be what I do to hide from me. I want to be able to close my eyes & be filled with endless amounts of peace which is something I feel eerily confident about being able to achieve. I may not be there, and I may not have a direct roadmap to it, but I have the alone time I so often asked for, and two more months to take a few steps closer to finding that peace within me.
I love people. What I love most about people, is that each individual I encounter has their own unique story. Some stories could be New York Times best sellers; some are comedies; some tragedies; & even some horror stories…but those stories belong to someone. Those stories explain precisely how that individual came to be the person they are. Lately, I have crossed paths with a plethora of people who have shared their stories with me, & there has been one consistent theme: Live. Do not just exist, but live.
The truth is that life (especially life after college) can be full of amazing adventures, chance encounters, twists, & turns, but once you realize your purpose then that life takes on a whole new meaning. I was interacting with a young entrepreneur recently who shared with me that after college, she landed her dream job in corporate America making $50,000 a year. Soon after graduation & starting her new job, she got engaged, bought a house, & began planning her wedding. She was so excited to begin ticking these things off of “life’s to-do list!” However one morning several months later, she woke up & realized that she needed several enormous cups of coffee to get her through Monday through Thursday, Friday she could not wait until it was time to get off work, and she was basically living for the weekend and only on the planet to pay a mortgage. That’s not living, that’s surviving! After that frightening realization, she decided to take control of her life, went into business for herself, and nine years later she has retired from corporate America, tripled her income, & fully enjoys her life instead of allowing life to live her.
Moldmakers live. Moldmakers see the opportunities that life presents and take full advantage of them. Moldmakers bulldoze through instead of going around life’s obstacles, and the result is a fabulously different outcome than staying on the hamster wheel & getting nowhere. This year’s motto is to live. Take the limits off of yourself & your situation, & watch what happens to your life. Take the blinders off of your vision, & watch what happens to your reality!
As a fellow educator, I am in awe of Nadia Lopez & her powerful words shared last evening on #BlackGirlsRock. Her challenge to students, parents, & society to begin reform in our schools is exactly the type of change necessary to shift our nation. I am beyond proud of this black girl who ROCKS! Check out this inspiring challenge and call to action from Ms. Lopez: http://bet.us/1xXrFps.