On July 1st, Dr. May-Washington will become the new president of St. Teresa’s Academy. , starting a new chapter in her professional life. She shared with us the early years of her career, role models, life after Park, and the key to advancing in your field.
Name: Dr. Siabhan May-Washington, Ed.D
Current Title: Assistant Principal of Faculty Development – Pembroke Hill School and Adjunct Professor – Park University School of Education
Location: Kansas City, MO
Education: University of Missouri – Kansas City: Bachelor of Arts (B.A), English
Park University: Master of Arts (M.A), Education Administration
The University of Missouri – Kansas City: Master of Arts (M.A.), English Curriculum & Instruction
Baker University: Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Educational Leadership
What was your first job after college and how did you get to where you are today?
My first job in education was in the Kansas City, Missouri School District. I went to a hiring fair at Metro Tech in downtown Kansas City. I was looking for a secondary level English teaching position and was hired by the principal, Mr. Clarence Cole to be an English teacher at Anderson Alternative High School. This was a school for at-risk youth that was located across the street from the Juvenile Justice Center. After Anderson, I became a teacher, department chair, and International Baccalaureate Coordinator at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. Following my time at Lincoln, I joined the staff at Pembroke Hill Upper School serving as a teacher, department chair of English, and lastly in my current role as assistant principal.
Tell us about your experience at Park University. What specifically helped you on your professional career path?
My experience at Park University was in pursuit of my second master’s degree in Education Administration. My first master’s degree from UMKC is English Curriculum and Instruction. My time at Park was a very pivotal time of learning. I really became interested in learning more about leadership theories and more about the dispositions and traits of quality leadership. It was at Park where I first reflected deeply about my own philosophy of education and became acquainted with the ISLLC (Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium) Standards. I had several terrific classes with Dr. Larry Ewing, Dr. Kim Freeland, and Dr. Lovern. My direct field internship was supervised by Dr. Bob Little. All of my professors really helped me appreciate the importance of research and careful analysis. I learned a lot about school systems across the country and the strengths and challenges of so many public and private schools. It was a privilege to return to Park University in early 2018 to teach as an adjunct professor in the graduate program, focusing on teachers pursuing their Master’s degrees in Urban Education. I am indebted to Dr. Judi Estes, Dr. McKinley, and Dr. Linda Seybert for providing me the opportunity to teach aspiring teachers.
What is your definition of success?
Success is having the courage to pursue one’s interests and passions. I believe success is working hard despite the odds and complications that one may face.
What are some of the challenges you have faced within the education field?
The main challenges I have faced concern the lack of diverse teaching representation in the education field. Students of all ethnicities need and deserve diverse teachers. It’s especially important for students of color, but also important for everyone. Far too often students told me I was the first or only teacher or administrator of color they had ever had. On the one hand, it’s an honor to fill this void, on the other hand, the responsibility is extremely weighty to carry. In addition, it has always been a challenge to have enough resources. I’ve worked in public and private schools, and there have always been budgetary concerns that often thwart or hinder the work of classroom teachers and administrators.
Favorite memories as you close this chapter with Pembroke Hill?
My current title is Assistant Principal of Faculty Development. I work with upper school teachers and plan professional development, as well as supervise the faculty evaluation process. My role has been to lead the Faculty Coaches Team and Auxiliary Professional Development Team of Pembroke Hill. My favorite memories entail having the privilege of daily walkthroughs and helping so many terrific teachers in their classrooms. Before I was promoted to my Assistant Principal role, I was an English teacher and Department Chair, so my purview was primarily focused and acquainted with the English department. Being part of the administrative team helped to enhance and widen my understanding of the total school. I love knowing that my work helped to improve achievement levels for students. One of the notable projects I led was a multi-year study of the homework load of our high school students. It has been a pleasure collaborating with so many fantastic faculty members on important issues. As part of the administrative team of Pembroke, I’ve been part of, and gained a greater appreciation of, lots of behind-the-scenes work that administrators do to keep the school thriving. It’s a favorite memory to know that I helped so many students and staff.
What are you most looking forward to in your new position at St. Teresa’s Academy?
St. Teresa’s Academy is a single-sex Catholic school for young women. I am looking forward to working in a faith-filled environment where I can help lead and empower young women. There are still many gender inequities in our society, so I want young women to know that their voices matter. They will be the strong, intelligent difference makers of the future! We need more young women to be leaders of tomorrow: CEOs, politicians, professors, business owners, and more.
How did you choose or pursue the role with St. Teresa’s Academy?
I saw the position advertised in the summer of 2018 and decided to pursue it after reading the qualifications description. The position intrigued me because it advertised that they were seeking an experienced leader with advanced degree qualifications, who was committed to diversity and inclusion, as well as an interest in leading young women. I knew instinctively that the school’s mission and vision was one that aligned with my beliefs and strengths.
What advice would you give to current students and new graduates?
My advice to current students and graduates is to learn all that you can from everyone you meet. I’m so fascinated by people’s stories and think we can all benefit by listening more to each other. In addition, I am a voracious reader and highly recommend that students should read for personal and professional purposes a variety of newspapers, professional journals, blogs, listen to podcasts, read Twitter, and more. Your learning is never finished! Keep thinking critically and challenging yourself at every opportunity. It’s also important to have quality mentors in your life and network with knowledgeable people.
Favorite quote to live by?
I actually have two quotes that are my favorites. The first is by the ancient philosopher Aristotle, “The fate of empires depends upon the education of youth.” It resonates with me because it exhorts us to remember that young people need us to educate and prepare them for the future. They are looking to adults for guidance. My other personal favorite is by Eleanor Roosevelt. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” You do not have to accept the biases, put-downs, and judgments that people may try to assign for you. What ultimately matters is what you think of yourself.
If you or someone you know has an interesting story to share, let us know by filling out this form: https://form.jotform.com/83543526463157