5 Equity-Focused Education Thought Leaders to Learn From

Looking to trailblazers in the field can be inspiring and motivating. Check out these up-and-coming equity-focused thought leaders in education to discover new ideas and shape your own perspective.
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Education is rooted in forward-thinking ideas and continuous innovation. Looking to trailblazers in the field can be inspiring and motivating, helping you discover new ideas and shape your own perspective. This type of learning can be challenging to fit in during the school year when you have little time for lunch—let alone keeping up with the industry.

As you restore, retool, and recommit this summer, and all school year long, check out these up-and-coming education thought leaders committed to creating equitable outcomes and inclusive cultures in schools so all students can learn—academically, socially, and emotionally.

1. Marisol Quevedo Rerucha

As a former educator and current non-profit leader, Marisol Quevedo Rerucha advocates for comprehensive, high-quality educational opportunities for all students. Her unique experiences, including leading career technical education programs for youth in juvenile court to end the school-to-prison pipeline, are a testament to her efforts to bring education to even the most marginalized and underserved groups.

Influenced by her own journey, Rerucha embraces restorative practices as a system that allows individuals and communities to heal. In the classroom, restorative practices provide a compassionate alternative to harsh discipline, with a focus on teaching positive social behaviors and repairing relationships with the self, others, and the school community at large.

Learn more from Rerucha about building a culture of connection and healing through restorative practices. Follow her on Twitter @marisolrerucha.

2. Henry Turner

Newton North High School principal Henry Turner is recognized as a “rising force” in educational leadership as he strives to create learning environments that are welcoming and compassionate. Turner’s impact at his school led him to be recognized as Education Dive’s 2021 K-12 Principal of the Year for his inclusive leadership style and dedication to student advocacy. 

Born and raised in Boston, Turner was one of the few students of color in his school. He grew up in a family that talked a lot about race in a town that talked very little of it. This reality, coupled with a feeling of being an outsider in his school, inspired him to pursue teaching to help make schools safe places where all students feel accepted. Turner encourages educators to explore what it means to view learning through an equitable lens while providing students ample information to form their own opinions. 

Hear more from Turner in this podcast interview about fostering an anti-racist culture. Follow him on Twitter @turnerhj.

3. Rusul Alrubail

A former professor of English composition and literature, Rusul Alrubail is a prolific writer focused on education, teaching, and leading who is passionate about creating change in education. Named one of Canada’s 2020 Top 100 Most Powerful Women, she’s applied her experience as an educator to multiple initiatives, including co-founding a student publishing platform to amplify student voice and help students improve their writing skills. In 2017, Alrubail founded the Parkdale Centre For Innovation to close gaps in accessibility and inclusivity for groups underrepresented in technology and entrepreneurship. 

Alrubail is active on social media, using it to build networks focused on creating positive change in education. In one of her more popular articles, Alrubail gets to the heart of what it means to be a great teacher—a reminder of what being an impactful educator truly means.

Read more from Alrubail on her blog, where she writes about inclusion and equity in entrepreneurship and innovation. Follow her on Twitter @RusulAlrubail.

4. Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D. 

Dr. Sheldon L. Eakins first experienced the impact of culture after college when he got a job as a history teacher in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While the residents of St. Croix looked like him, they communicated in an entirely different way than he did. They celebrated different festivals, engaged in different activities, and ate different foods. Through this experience, he recognized why cultural awareness is an important—and sometimes overlooked—part of being an equity-focused leader. 

For over a decade in the field of education, Dr. Eakins has dedicated himself to helping educators create more equitable practices in their schools and become better advocates for their students. He founded the Leading Equity podcast to spread the message of cultural awareness for educators.

Hear from Dr. Eakins and other thought leaders on the Leading Equity podcast. Follow him on Twitter @sheldoneakins.

5. Afrika Afeni Mills

From a young age, Afrika Afeni Mills was taught to celebrate her African ancestry. As she continued to learn about her history and the marginalization of people who looked like her, she began asking herself questions like: Have I been complicit in erasing the history of others in my fight against my own history being erased? Now a veteran educator and consultant, Mills helps educators develop their own racial identity so they can heal, grow, and help students do the same.

Mills believes that “to build a better world, we all need to engage in the work of racial awareness, healing, deconstructing oppressive systems, and building and sustaining liberatory systems where all of us can enjoy freedom.” Through her work, she invites educators and students to become active allies.

Read more about Mill’s thoughts on evolving the narrative about race in schools. Follow her on Twitter @AfeniMills.

There you have it—five influential education leaders to inspire you and spark your creativity as you gear up for the next school year. We hope their voices help you engage in continuous learning so you can continue to shape the minds of the next generation of leaders.  

Are there other thought leaders that you’d add to this list? Share them with us on Twitter @NewLeaders.

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