I stayed late tonight to assist with our open house. Families had not arrived yet so I engaged in conversation with my colleagues. I noticed one of my students helping to place the books back on the bookshelf and I invited her to join our conversation. I spoke of how hard this student works and how motivated and dedicated she was in and out of school. I admit she inspires me and this is the reason she is student of the month in my class.
As we discussed her goals for her future and the extracurricular activities she is working through to get her there, we applauded her. There are very few students who would give up in addition to after school, three Saturdays a month, and one month in the summer to work on their academics from 8am until 4:30pm.
My principal praised my student for being articulate and invited her to join Model UN or the debate team if she could find the time. After a few more minutes passed in the conversation the principal says to this child, “I think you would be better off at a Liberal Arts college, Ivy League isn’t for everyone”. I immediately felt my face grow warm as I tried to paint this smile on my face. Hoping that no one could read my frustration. The conversation was over for me. Not too long after that comment, a family walked in and I was glad.
I followed up with my student afterward telling her “If you want to go to that ivy league school then go, don’t let anyone discourage you.” She said, “I know, I’m not working this hard to go to a Liberal Arts School.” I smiled and said, “I almost forgot you have a mind of your own.” We laughed.
I think it’s ill of a school leader to tell a child that something may not be for them. Especially working with black and brown children in low-income communities. If they’re interested, it’s our job to provide them with the resources for them to learn more and allow them to make their own choices. Planting that seed in her mind was perceived as she is not good enough. The truth is she’s awesome and probably in a better standing than he was at her age.
He’s really lost me at that comment.