We absolutely need diversity in leadership. Recruitment and cultivation of these leaders should be a priority for organizations that don’t already have it. Over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing stories, examples, and lessons from my own life that have illustrated the importance of having a diverse leadership in an organization. While I will be discussing its importance in reference to my experiences in school leadership, it certainly applies to any other organization.
Part 1 – Childhood Lessons
Ever since I can remember, I was responsible for helping my parents with all sorts of translation work. That was the norm in my household. Whether it was paperwork for my school, letters we got at home, or documents from my dad’s work, there was always an assortment of things for me to translate. The same applied to parent-teacher conferences, phone calls to utility companies, and shopping in stores.
Parent-teacher conferences were particularly tricky to tackle, because I was never allowed to be a translator in one of those meetings, as it was strictly a meeting between parents and teachers. Anytime we got notices about these conferences, my mom would begin her routine of calling different family members or family friends to see who might be available to attend. It was usually my uncle, who’d arrived in the US when he was in HS, who served as the translator in these meetings.
My mom followed the same process when I didn’t understand a homework assignment. She didn’t care who she had to call or how many calls she had to make. All that mattered was getting somebody to the house who could help me out. To this day, I can picture a variety of different people sitting with me at our dinner table as I completed my homework. I own these experiences because they are a part of who I am, but I also recognize the opportunity I have to shape a different path for my students.
I know what many of my students and their families go through on a regular basis because I lived it.
This shared experience gives me a unique perspective on how to be a school leader. Whether it’s ensuring that we have translators at all our meetings, that any paperwork we sent home is in both English and Spanish, or that we promote things on social media in a variety of languages, these are the things that resonate with me because of my experience.
It isn’t to say that other individuals wouldn’t be able to or don’t already think of similar solutions, but it hits home in a very different way for me. One of the primary reasons that I’m in education is to ensure my students have even more opportunities and support than I did. This makes my experience as a leader so unique, as I am constantly thinking about what would’ve helped me or how my own experiences in school could have been improved.
It also reaches a heightened level of importance for me, as I know how powerful it is for parents to be able to communicate with others in their home language and what a difference something as simple as translating documents can make for parents and their comfort level when dealing with a school. As a leader, I have the ability to make changes on a scale that can impact a large number of our families. This is why it’s so important to work towards increasing the diversity of those in leadership within schools. It isn’t to say that that our students aren’t benefited from being led by those that don’t look like them, but that there are missed opportunities when that is never the case.
Oscar Romano is a TFA Alum (Houston ’09) and the new School Director for YES Prep Gulfton in Houston, TX. Oscar is a graduate of Harvard University, the first person in his family to go to college, and a proud Latino. Oscar also has a blog on school leadership and culture. Visit www.oscarreneromano.com to learn more.
Oscar Romano is a guest blogger for OneTeacher whose views and publications on other platforms are his/her own and are not endorsed by or affiliated with OneTeacher.
Check out part two of this series next week at www.oneteacheraz.com/blog-2!