Black History Month: Inspirational Quotes from K-12 Leaders
We’re kicking off February with a celebration of Black voices and insights from current and former school leaders, all of whom are New Leaders alumni. From what inspired them to step into leadership—and why they stay—to how best to communicate and what keeps them grounded and affirmed, we hope their words hearten and uplift.
For more than 20 years, New Leaders has equipped equity-minded education leaders to be powerful and positive forces for change, especially in the most marginalized communities. We have developed more than 8,000 equity-focused leaders—sixty percent of whom identify as leaders of color—who impact more than 2 million students in our K-12 school system.
We know that leadership can be lonely, but it does not have to be. Every day, we hear from school leaders across the country who are looking for a sense of connection and belonging. The power and significance of community is why our leadership development programs are often rooted in an adult cohort experience.
As New Leaders alum and principal Dashe Rowland explained to District Administration, “My cohort is my first line of support. They will always be my thought partners, my journey partners, and my accountability partners….They are truly a part of my life.”
In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing eight inspirational quotes to fuel you on your leadership journey and remind you that you are not alone.
“Never forget you are leading humans.
When you’re talking about student achievement, you’re not talking about a data point.
You are talking about a child.”
- Brian Ingram, Tennessee
“The road is not easy, but the road cannot be walked alone.
It is a collective effort. You have to have a community to make change happen for our children.”
- Michelle Pierre-Farid, Maryland
“Love is in the details.
How you say what you say matters.”
- Belicia Reaves, Washington, D.C.
“The expectations for what I would do in school were not very high, according to some.
But because I was touched by some special people inside the school building,
that went along with what I was getting at home, it drove me to do great—and greater—things.”
- LaWanda Hill, Tennessee
“Learning is not a straight line.
I was convinced I didn’t want to lead a school,
but slowly realized that being a principal was precisely what I was called to do.”
- Eugene Stovall, California
“When you seek mentors,
those opportunities begin to present themselves or open up for you.
Having a network of support is extremely important.”
- Rashene Davis, Texas
“I know firsthand the impact my mother had on her students—
and I see the impact I have on my own students. They get to see someone who looks like them
striving for excellence and leading the work with their teachers, someone who shows
them that they, too, can go on to be a leader.”
- Tamara Littlejohn, Illinois
“Above all, see value and purpose
in your role as an assistant principal. And walk in it.”
- Afua Agyeman-Badu, Illinois
To read more about their leadership journeys, visit Equity-Centered Leadership: Real Stories, Real Leaders. For resources and insights on teaching Black history, see Two Ways to Rethink Black History.