An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Betty Benson, Upper School assistant director

“That was not my plan.” This was the name of the most powerful workshop I attended at NAIS’s People of Color Conference (PoCC). It was a workshop about educational leaders of color in independent schools who never set out to be leaders. At the end of the session I felt compelled to tell the presenters that, sitting in the audience, I felt like they designed this workshop specifically for me. That’s how much their work, their presentation, and their lives resonated with me. 

It is always a powerful experience to see a possible pathway for myself in the life of another. It’s the reason why I became a teacher in the first place, to model for students that you could identify as female, be an elite athlete, be a R&D chemist, and love working with people. 

I always think of this framework for students and the adults who work with them, but do not often think of this framework between adults. Seeing possibilities for myself in the leader of color who presented during this workshop was so affirming and provided just the shift in perspective I needed. I walked away from this workshop and from PoCC completely believing in the power of one’s story, the power of my story, to transform and enrich the people with whom we share it—especially the stories of people of color and other marginalized people that have not historically been shared.

The act of sharing one’s story takes courage and vulnerability. However, being on the receiving end of the dividends that can be obtained when we share our stories, I go forward with the inspiration and bravery needed to tell my own story with purpose and intentionality. Thank you PoCC for the energy, perspective, revitalization, and strategy needed to re-enter our communities and continue our good work as educators!