my personal learning network

I am currently preparing for my first Principal position next year at a middle school located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. As I transition into this new role, I started to look around on Twitter to see if there were other leaders, like me, that I could connect with to increase my PLN. PLN, for those who don’t know, is a Personal Learning Network.

I came across a tweet from a current Principal, Lindsey Stumpenhorst about a Twitter hashtag #momsasprincipals (see Lindsey’s Twitter page below).

Lindsey encouraged other leaders, who are also moms, to join their #momsasprincipals Voxer group. Since I have used Voxer both professionally and personally the past three years, I asked to join the group. And, I am so glad that I did! I instantly was connected with moms who are Principals around the United States who are doing life and leading just like me. I have finally found the support group that I have been looking for!

This is not the first time, I have increased my PLN, one year ago, I applied to be in the Women in Leadership mentor program sponsored by the AASA.

The Women in Leadership initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and focuses on connecting women in leadership with other women leaders who aspire to be a Superintendent one day. I was one of 20 women in America who were chosen to be apart of this program and my mentor was none other than the Secretary of Education for the state of South Dakota, Dr. Melody Schopp. I was stunned and honored that she was my mentor this year (she is also the President of the Council of Chief of State School Officers—this means that she was the “head” Secretary of Education leader for the entire United States!). I learned so much from my virtual meetings with Melody and proud to say that she has helped me in more than one way as a leader. I am thankful for her friendship and honored that I had this opportunity to connect with her this past year.

As a woman, in leadership, I have constantly tried to find other women as leaders to not only connect with professionally but also be a mentor and guide in a field that is predominantly dominated by males. For example, check out the infographic below that explains the percentage of women in leadership over the past 50+ years.

Don’t get me wrong, I have many, many men as leaders who have served as a mentor, guide and an example of exemplary leadership, but have found few women who are experiencing life as not only a leader but a mom as well. As any women leader would tell you, there are different challenges women as leaders face that men can certainly sympathize with but don’t have to personally experience. As any great leader will tell you, it is important to find other leaders who can help support the WHOLE you; leadership can be a lonely and sometimes thankless job—if you let it.

I have to say, I am so excited for what this new year will bring as a Principal. I am looking forward to connecting with my staff, students and parents and I am beyond excited that I have increased my circle to include others who can help encourage, support and do life together with me in the years ahead.

Interested in finding other leaders, just like you? Check out a few resources below!

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