The Start of a New School Year 2016-17: Let’s Transform Public Education

Schools across the country have opened their front doors over the past few weeks to welcome its students back from a long, hot summer. Parents have checked & double checked school supply lists, communities & business have organized back-to-school drives, & students have meticulously picked out their back-to-school outfits. But even while the media would like to suggest that schools are miraculously prepared for the new school year in a twinkling of the eye, or society offers that confused grimace as they grapple with the understanding that yes, school principals do work in the summer, where are school leadership references in all of the back-to-school hubbub? Where are the Wal-Mart commercials depicting a school principal disaggregating EOG & EOY data while they peruse the aisles for the perfect 1.5 binders? Why doesn’t Staples create an ad featuring magnetic whiteboards as school leaders develop, edit, & revise the master schedules for the year ahead? And where are the McDonald’s jingles about the coffee that gets many a school leaders through the summer district leadership retreat?

In the wake of societal change, educational reform, & national elections it is time for us to begin painting a new portrait of the realities of public education that not only provide the masses with a trueaccurate depiction of public education, but we also must work to include the voices & lives of all those involved in the process. Back-to-school is an exciting time for millions of individuals across the United States, however the work & efforts that go into creating optimal learning environments & professional learning communities often goes unnoticed. As a school administrator, my goal is to help shed light on the process of not only opening the school year, but transforming a school as well. Last July, I was honored to be named principal at an elementary school in North Carolina. The process of transforming our school into one of the best places to work & learn has been exttremely rewarding, challenging, & intriguing & our team of esteemed educators is consistently striving toward the mark of excellence for our students.

For the 2016-17 school year, we chose IEJ Cinemas Presents… as our theme which will be infused into all facets of professional development, faculty meetings, & communication with our faculty & staff this year. In order to unveil our theme, we created a movie trailer highlighting the goals, vision, & mission for the 2016-17 school year (check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LN-_sxPe7M) & invited our team to our Academy Awards themed Opening Meeting. We even asked faculty & staff to dress up to compete for the Best Dressed Actress & Actor in an Educational Film to ramp up the excitement & engagement!

When faculty & staff arrived to the cafeteria, they had their photo taken by a professional photographer on the step and see & found their Hollywood star & swag bag at their seats. We opened the meeting by celebrating last year’s instructional accomplishments & grade level highlights as well a brief review of our NCTWC results from March. Following presentations from our Instructional Lead Team, we announced the best dressed actor, actress, & supporting roles before dismissing the faculty & staff into movie-themed sessions. From Freedom Writer, where our Instructional Facilitator laid out the reading & writing pilot for the year to Great Expectations, where administration discussed the handbook, evaluations, & discipline goals it was a wonderful morning spent arming our team with information to ensure that students were successful in the year ahead! Check out the newest video on my YouTube channel below for pictures & highlights from our IEJ Cinemas Presents…Opening Meeting 2016-17! 

On Friday, August 26 our district hosted its annual Convocation for all of our county’s school employees. Our school showed up with amazing school spirit donning our new school shirts (thanks PTO!) We danced our way into the auditorium & one of my teachers who is a Hula-fit instructor, wowed the crowd with her awesome hula hoop tricks in time with the music! As the festivities began, the finalists for the Principal of the Year were asked to stand to be recognized. Our superintendent then called one of our school’s former 5th graders to the stage. Through tears & joy, I listened to this young man share his educational journey & highlight his last year at our school. He recounted the mornings I stood greeting each student as they walked through the door, the days working with students to develop their quarterly goals, & even my driving to see our students compete in their recreational sporting events. As he spoke the words, “I want to congratulate Dr. Hemphill on being the 2016-17 Principal of the Year” I was met with screams, squeals, hugs, & love from the best school family in the world! There is absolutely no way that we would have accomplished such growth for our children without their willingness to try something new. There is absolutely no way that we could have created a brand new culture & established positive morale without their flexibility, patience, & out-of-the crayon-box thinking. And there is absolutely no way that I would be Principal of the Year without the BEST SCHOOL FAMILY OF THE YEAR! I am grateful. I am humbled. And I am honored.

The 2016-17 school year is going to be phenomenal for our students, our educators, & our community because we now understand the power of change. Let’s commit to revolutionizing education one school at a time. Let’s change the perception of public education across our hometowns, our state, & our nation. Let’s shatter some molds when it comes to doing what is good for the students who are sitting in our classrooms today. I hope my educational moldmakers will join us on this journey!

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“Leadership in Education Influencing Every Generation” featuring Dr. Mary Hemphill

“Education is about not forgetting that you are seriously affecting the trajectory of a child’s life.” – Dr. Mary Hemphill

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It is with great pleasure that I share my newly released podcast “Leadership in Education Influencing Every Generation” with Motivational Millennials, Ivy LaClair & Blake Brandes! This was such a powerful project, & it was amazing to connect & share on such a positive platform. I hope you enjoy, moldmakers!

Click here to listen to the podcast – (Ep. 5) Leadership in Education Influencing Every Generation with Dr. Mary Hemphill

The Journey Continues Scholar Vlog – March/April/May 2016

The past three months have been hectic, amazing, & challenging. I have had the opportunity to spend time with family & friends,  celebrate special moments with loved ones, & embrace new opportunities that challenge me personally & professionally. Thank you for joining me on this scholarly journey!

#EducatorsVoicesMatter

NC Educators let’s speak up in 2016! Let your voices be heard in Tuesday’s primary election.

A Month of Celebration! (Scholar Vlog – February 2016)

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!

A Month of Celebrations! Scholar Vlog – February 2016

One Year of Moldmaking

Be inspired. Educate yourself. Motivate others. – The Scholar Vlogger

e529017a442705313c2df659fc2bcb49One 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

 

Moldmaker on the Path to the Principalship – Artistic Expressions by Elisabeth

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.

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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!

Black Girls ROCK: Nadia Lopez (Change Agent)

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

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The First Black Female PhDs

Check out this enlightening article on the first three Black female PhDs, moldmakers! Georgiana Simpson (University of Chicago, Ph.D. in German philology), Sadie Mossell Alexander (University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. in economics); & Eva Dykes (Radcliffe College, Ph.D. in English philology) were definitely moldmakers before their time!

http://www.theroot.com/articles/history/2015/03/_3_black_women_who_broke_barriers_in_academic_achievement.html

Dr. Mary Hemphill “Excellent Educator”

Check out the newest issue of Meredith Magazine featuring my article & interview by Melyssa Allen!

http://www.meredith.edu/magazine/article/excellent-educator-mary-hemphill-05