This post was written by NCTE member Sarah Townsend.
As a new administrator in a large district, I wanted to create a brave space for the women leaders in the district to meet and collaborate on best practices, trade stories, offer advice, etc. I felt so fortunate to be surrounded by so many innovative and inspiring women leaders and I knew that meeting with them in a professional learning community (PLC) would provide opportunities for us to learn and grow together. I sent the idea to my superintendent, who was immediately supportive of the idea. She offered the suggestion of meeting in the Clean Water Cafe, housed in Liquid Church, which is a café that provides full-time employment to adults with special needs, some of whom were former students of the Parsippany Troy-Hills School District. She also suggested using the book Huddle by Brooke Baldwin as our book study to center our discussions. I immediately ordered copies of the book for the group, and as I read, I felt inspired and affirmed by Ms. Baldwin’s stories of women in recent history who came together to support each other professionally and personally because—women are finding our way back to each other—we will always find our way back to each other–because female huddling is part of our legacy” (Baldwin 27).
The group meets once a month, and although we have met only a few times, I already feel more connected and empowered as a woman leader in the district. It is such a pleasure to hear about the experiences of other female administrators as we develop a professional sisterhood built on mutual empathy and respect. I am honored to be part of this huddle and I encourage other women educators, leaders, etc, to develop their own professional huddles to deepen their connections with others and, as Baldwin writes, “unlock their collective power.”
Sarah Townsend is the 6–12 language arts and media coordinating supervisor at the Parsippany Troy-Hills School District. She was a middle and high school English language arts teacher for 11 years and serves as a member of the NCTE Conference on English Leadership ELF program and New Jersey Council of Teachers of English (NJCTE). She is the cofounder and co-chair of the district’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee, and is married to a wonderful high school English teacher, and is a mother to two hilarious toddlers.
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