Reflecting on women’s history month

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There is not a single space within education that is not shaped by the leadership of women. From women managing a classroom or campus with skill and compassion to women guiding and implementing the vision for a district, the impact of women on public education is undeniable.

The definition of effective leadership has evolved. Effective leadership is now characterized by relational leadership, capacity building, and mentorship. While originally considered women’s ways of leading, along with instructional leadership, these are now the essential building blocks of educational leadership. At the Charles Butt Foundation, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate some aspiring and veteran women leaders we work with who are shaping public education in Texas.

Supporting women education leaders at all levels

The Charles Butt Foundation works to lift up the voices and experiences of women leaders in Texas schools and build the next generation of women leaders. In Texas, 76.2 percent of teachers are women (as reported in 2021 TEA data). But the representation of women dwindles in other leadership roles within public education. About 60 percent of public school principals are women, but women account for less than one in five superintendents in Texas. Our mentorship program, which pairs school leaders with aspiring teachers, also creates spaces for women to mentor other women as they enter the teaching profession. Our Raising School Leaders program provides public school campus and district leaders, many of which are women, with all-expenses-paid leadership development at Harvard, access to a statewide network of alumni, and ongoing professional development opportunities.

As we reflect on celebrating Women’s History Month, we honor the many women who are pillars of strength in their schools, on their campuses, and in their communities. To celebrate the close of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the stories of women leading in the classroom and campuses and building bridges for the future in ways that are both uniquely “woman” and teach us all lessons in leadership.

Strong campus leadership through restorative practices

In our story leading schools with trauma sensitivity crucial to supporting students, Kimberly Darden, the principal at Pearland’s Alternative Choice in Education Center, models individualized care and compassion for each and every one of her students. She leads with an asset-based mindset and a focus on authentic connections with each learner.

Mentoring to support the next generation of educators

Dr. Ting-Ling Sha, the principal at A.J. Martin Elementary in Alief ISD, sees professional coaching as an essential part of supporting and retaining new teachers. She is proud to serve as a scholar mentor for several young women who are part of the Charles Butt Scholarship program. She says, “It was really nice to be asked to be a mentor to these fantastic women who want to continue to grow in their journey to be a teacher.” In our story developing the next generation of teachers and leaders learn more about how Dr. Sha is investing in future female leaders.

Drawing strength from family

Raque Pérez proudly embraces her migrant identity and who she has become. She is strong. She is determined. And she is the future of Texas teaching. Raquel is an alumna of the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring who today is impacting the lives of children as a fourth grade teacher in South Texas. The students in our community need role models who they can relate to and understand that the possibilities are endless when optimizing the tools and skills provided,” she says. “I strive to be a voice in my community and give back to the pueblo that has taught me so much.” In our story from migrant farmworker to future teacher, Raquel shares about her life experiences and the inspiration she draws from her family, including her young niece.

Empowering young women

In our story, empowering young women to lead,” the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in El Paso and principal Malinda Villalobos take center stage in sharing what it means to be a campus designed specifically for young women. “Equity for all, availability for all — as big as you want to become and as much as you want to learn. There are no boundaries for you,” says Villalobos.