Author Archives: ram782mailharvardedu

The 15th Annual Alumni of Color Conference

On March 2-4, I had the honor of chairing the 15th Annual Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) with the theme Define. Defy. Dismantle: Forging Our Legacy Through Activism. It was hands down the most rewarding experience for me as a student at HGSE. Five months of planning came together for a weekend filled with social activism. We had over 700 registered participants which consisted of students, faculty, staff, alumni, youth, scholars, and citizens from across the country. We had 7 keynote speakers, a special guest, and about 45 workshops over the course of six breakout sessions.

As a Tri-Chair, I was tasked with turning an idea into a full 3 day conference. Before this year, the largest event I planned was a male scholarship pageant through my sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) in undergrad. I had never planned a conference before and was honestly unaware of all it would take to successfully execute this conference. I quickly found out the amount of work, dedication, and sacrifice it would take and I am truly appreciative of the phenomenal leadership team that helped make this conference possible.

On Thursday, March 2, Dr. Peter T. Keo provided a kickoff for the conference. He gave a speech that energized participants and excited the crowd about what was to come over the course of the weekend. Many participants commented on the appreciation of hearing a man of Asian descent speak about dismantling racism from a perspective that is often not highlighted.

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Dr. Keo with the Tri-Chairs (from left to right: Kimberly Osagie, Rashaida Melvin, Alfatah Moore)

Friday, there were three breakout sessions and an Askwith Forum. The Askwith forum titled “Take Action: Advancing Justice and Equity in Today’s Climate” was composed of keynote speakers Dr. Arshad I. Ali, Ed.M.’04, Assemblyman Michael A. Blake, Albino Garcia, Jr., and Simran Noor with Christina “V” Villarreal, Ed.M.’05 moderating the panel. We also gave the Courage Award to the Denver Broncos’ linebacker Brandon Marshall for having the strength to fight for justice in regards to police brutality.

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From left to right: Christina “V” Villarreal, Assemblyman Michael Blake, Albino Garcia, Simran Noor, and Dr. Arshad Ali.

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Brandon Marshall with the AOCC Tri-Chairs

For a full video of the Askwith Forum, check out the live video on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Facebook page from March 3rd. Also, check out this article I am featured in about the conference and specifically the Askwith Forum.
On Saturday, we had three more breakout sessions, a conversation with Brandon Marshall, granted three awards, and welcomed two additional keynote speakers: Dr. Rhonda Williams and Dr. Bettina Love. All of the speakers were phenomenal. Dr. Williams used spoken word to defy systems of oppression and Dr. Love discussed her curriculum on hip-hop education and fired up the crowd as she provided ways to dismantle oppression in education. I am beyond proud of the final product of AOCC 2017. It will be my greatest memory and experience at HGSE.

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Dr. Rhonda Williams, keynote speaker.

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Myself and Dr. Bettina Love (Fun Fact: Dr. Love is a professor at the same university I attended for my bachelor’s degree, The University of Georgia!)

I would love to help recruit the next Master’s Tri-Chair for AOCC 2018! I can give you the ins and outs of the planning process. I had to make sacrifices and give up a lot of free time because of this conference, but it was the BEST decision I made as a student here at HGSE.   

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AOCC Tri-Chairs with Tracie Jones from the Office of Student Affairs

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.

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We FINALLY Got a Win!

The 2016-2017 School Leadership Cohort is a good group of competitive individuals. We are always looking for ways to be strategic, efficient, and win! I truly believe we have taken leadership to a brand new level at HGSE. We have turned one class project into a gallery showing, published book, and a presentation at AOCC (Alumni of Color Conference). We have come together to support each other in times of academic, professional, and personal needs. But one thing we have yet to accomplish, is a win. For some reason, during every competition entered, SLP has never won. During the softball season, we had a team with the best team spirit, yet we never won a game (we even had cheerleaders and team hype music). During the HGSE basketball tournament, we made it to the semi-finals round and lost by one point in overtime. We tried so hard, yet we could not pull out a “W”, until….the Class Gift Challenge! (The Class Gift Challenge asks current HGSE students to donate funds to go towards financial aid opportunities for the incoming class at HGSE.)

Each year, students compete to see which cohort can reach 100% contribution to the class gift first. This cohort wins a “not a pizza party.” I am proud to say that the 45 members in the 2016-2017 School Leadership Program ALL contributed to the class gift fund within 48 hours of the competition opening! We finally earned our “W” and of course the bragging rights to go along with this win. I was most proud to be told that this was the FASTEST a cohort has EVER reached 100% participation. Although it took us long enough, I think this was a good win for SLP!

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Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.  

True Life: I’m a Graduate Student at Harvard

My Monday Schedule:

7:45 am: Wake up, get ready for class

8:30 am: Leave the house and walk to HGSE

9:00 am-12:00 pm: Attend class

12:00-12:30 pm: Meet with my fellow Tri-Chairs about the Alumni of Color Conference

12:30-4:00 pm: Eat lunch, prepare for class, attend office hours, chat with friends

4:00-7:00 pm: Attend class

7:30 pm-1:00 am: Eat dinner, prepare to go to my internship the next day, complete assignments, read for class, job search, talk to family, self-care

This is a typical Monday schedule for me. I would consider this to be a calm day. One in which I do not have very many meetings and everything goes as planned. Of course, that rarely happens. During my time here at HGSE, I have been challenged beyond what I thought was possible. I have taken on many responsibilities and tasks that, at many times, make me feel as if I am being pulled in every direction. But I like this! There are so many opportunities and I am trying to take advantage of as many as possible.

Q: What do you like best about being a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education?

A: I like being surrounded by the community members at HGSE. Everyday I am learning from and with people who have done amazing things in their lives and careers. I love how humble everyone is about their accomplishments. I could be sitting next to someone who has started multiple businesses or who raises money to support kids internationally, and would never know it because people at the Ed school aren’t about competing with each other. We all just want to do what is best for kids!

Q: What is most challenging about being at HGSE?

A: Trying to do everything I possibly can in one year – and do it all well. I can honestly say that I have tried to take as much as possible from HGSE. Everyday I ask myself, “How can I take more from this experience?” I push myself to think beyond the classroom. The classroom is great, but there are so many other things to take from HGSE that is outside the classroom, and outside of HGSE as well.

Q: Did you feel prepared to come to HGSE?

A: After coming here and realizing how strategic people were in the things they wanted to see and do, I realized that I was not prepared. I was trying to figure things out as I went. Other people who knew exactly which professors they wanted to learn from, which organizations they wanted to be a member of, and how they wanted to impact the HGSE community. I didn’t. I just knew that I wanted to come here and make a name for myself and do something that would make HGSE and myself proud. That was my goal. Of course, I wanted to expand my network and learn from amazing people. But I knew I would only feel that I conquered this experience if I left a lasting mark on this school. Do I think I have positioned myself to do this? I am proud to say yes. Absolutely!

Q: Looking back, what might you have done before coming to HGSE to be more prepared?

A: If I could go back to last summer, I would have used my time more wisely. I would have actually planned out all of the opportunities I wanted to explore as well as the tangible deliverables of my time here. I feel as if there are resources that I am just now tapping into that would have been amazing to experience back in September or October. I then remind myself that it is impossible to do everything and that I have taken on a lot of responsibilities. I know that everything is working out in perfect timing and exactly as it should be. I take comfort in this. I realize that I am only one person and I cannot do everything, even though I try.

Q: What have you learned at HGSE that you will use beyond Appian Way?

A: I’ve learned so much! There is plenty to learn in the classroom and through internships. But what I have learned the most beyond that is about building my brand. Soon I will have this degree and will be back into the work to change the world. How am I going to use my knowledge to help others? How am I going to make a name for myself as a leader in education? These are things that I have learned outside the classroom through conversations with colleagues and friends. This is my focus as I progress through the semester and to graduation. At this moment in my program, I have realized that all of the work I have done here is great, but I have to keep working. I have to keep striving. I have to keep pressing.

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.

Welcome Spring Semester!

OMG: One of my favorite slang terms. I found myself saying this a lot as I returned to HGSE for Spring semester.

OMG time to shop for classes. OMG time to choose classes. OMG time to start classes. OMG time to finalize and begin my internship. OMG I have assignments due already? OMG I missed my friends! OMG I have to find a job. OMG I’m planning a conference! OMG this year is going by too fast!

Needless to say, the first week back was stressful. Getting back into a routine is my main goal moving forward. One of my classmates and friends reminded me that although there is a lot going on in our lives, we have to stop and think about how fortunate we are to be in this place at this time. No one can take away this experience. With her encouragement and friendly reminder, I am confident that this Spring semester will be stress free (generally speaking–I can’t guarantee all the time) but most importantly it will be successful. Everything will work out in perfect timing, including securing my dream job. Until then, I am going to dive into my work and continue creating memories of a lifetime. 

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.

Scholarly Reflections

At this time in my life, the setting is just right to reflect. Reflect on the previous semester. Reflect on my Harvard experience so far. Reflect on my future. Reflect on all the things I still want from this experience.

Coming to Harvard, I had little expectations besides knowing that I would receive an education from a world-renowned university. That was it. I was not like certain classmates who had researched all the professors and knew exactly what they wanted. I came to Harvard with more of a blank slate mentality–I was ready to be used and molded by my experiences at HGSE. I only remember thinking that I would push myself to try new things on a regular basis and that I would take advantage of every opportunity possible. I can honestly say I have done just that. I am actually concerned by what new experiences I will be able to have next semester, because I took advantage of so many during the fall! This is actually the best problem to have. When I look back on this experience, I know that there will not be things that I wished I would have done. That’s the best position to be in. This is Harvard, so I am confident that there will be just as many, if not more, experiences for me to have next semester.

I was actually very sad as I finished my last few Fall finals, said good-bye at my internship, and walked away from Gutman Library for the last time in 2016. It is amazing how the people and environment that I have only known for a few short months has such a hold on me and my life. I know that I am truly changed by this experience. There really is not a way to explain it. For me, the one word that sums up everything this experience has been is blessed. I am truly blessed. With that, I will continue to engage in personal reflections. Just know that I want to spread this blessing to others. Everyone should be able to have this privilege. Education is such an important thing that so many people are denied. Being at the Harvard Graduate School of Education has solidified my career, my calling to be an educator. There’s no turning back. I want to use this experience and this degree to bless others. I am not ashamed of that at all. I’m actually very proud. Proud that I was entrusted with this amazing opportunity.      

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.

Looking Back Over the Semester

I can’t believe the semester is over…. Here are a few of my highlights!

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First day at my internship! This internship has been an amazing experience. I was welcomed with open arms and I have had a chance to learn, practice, and improve my school leadership skills!

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Arts in Education (AIE) students chose to do a project on changing the negative narrative of menstruation. They hosted a period party where we created art work and discussed our own narratives around periods. Both males and females attended and we all engaged in rich discussion! more information can be found on their website, People Have Periods, including my own period story.

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Gallery opening night for R.E.A.L. Talk Exhibit

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Tabling for the Alumni of Color Conference with one of my fellow Tri-Chairs.

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Me with Dr. Higgins on the last day of class.

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Some members of my cohort after our consultancy group with The Principal Center’s Advisory Board. I was also fortunate to complete the Mannequin Challenge with my SLP cohort and The Principal’s Center Advisory Board. It was an epic moment to incorporate work and play with principals from around the country!

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Resting Pitch Face-My cohort softball team!

 

Good times tailgating for the Harvard vs. Yale football game!

I’ve been blessed to have so many good times and memories that I will cherish forever.

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.

Job Search, Already?!

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All of these thoughts have circulated in my mind. It is November and the end of the semester is right around the corner. I HAVE to have someplace to work and live when I leave here. Where will I be at this time next year? 

The Career Services Office at HGSE is really good about supporting students during our time here. Currently, fall PERC (Period of Employers Recruiting on Campus) is taking place. During this time employers come to HGSE, host information sessions, and conduct interviews for their open positions. It is a great time to learn about different companies  and learn about positions within the different sectors of education.

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Me! After a long day of networking, attending employer info sessions, and going to the Charter School Career Fair.

 

Attending office hours with the Career Services Office is very valuable as well. I have received great advice from the Associate Director of Career Services, Mary Frazier-Davis, to help me prepare for my transition to working again. The advice that I have received is so helpful and I feel like it is worth sharing!

  1. Find someone to be your professional mentor. This person can give you a wealth of knowledge within the field. You want to find someone that you trust and who has your best interest in mind. This is an invaluable resource that can further put you in touch with other professionals in your field. Imagine how great it would be to easily contact someone and receive any advice that you need for your career.
  2. Find people who are doing your ideal job. Reach out to them and conduct informal interviews. This is a great way to learn about a position and to see if it is a good fit for you. But don’t just find one person, find 10 people. This will give you a broader range of perspectives and will help you create a better picture of what it actually looks and feels like to have the job.
  3. If there is a company that you are interested in working with, reach out! You never know when they may be hiring. Even if your desired position is not available, another similar position may be presented simply because you reached out. By staying silent, you prevent yourself from unexpected and unforeseeable opportunities.
  4. Jobs aren’t always going to come to you. Sometimes you have to go to them. This doesn’t mean be aggressive, but it does mean that you have to actually put in the work to job search, network, and make yourself professionally available.
  5. Explore the network that you already have. Don’t forget about the people that you already know. Normally I like to keep things to myself but since I have been here, I recognize how valuable it is to collaborate with my peers. Because people come from various locations, we all know different people and have different networks. All it takes is a conversation to connect our networks and help each other land a job in our desired location with a company that is already approved by our peers.
  6. Don’t forget, many people get their current jobs because they knew someone at the company. This speaks for itself! Network. It is one of the best ways to find a job. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Cliche, yes. But rather accurate. Usually.
  7. Use LinkedIn wisely and to your advantage to connect with people. I used to shy away from LinkedIn. I have never been the best with social media. But now, I run towards LinkedIn! I think it is such a great resource for establishing and maintaining a professional network. It is also an easy way to see who in your network may know someone else that works with a company that you are interested in and may help you with your next job. I love how you can see who else from your alma mater works with a company. That is a great way to get your foot in the door.
  8. Be open. You may like a position at a company that you have never thought of before. As long as you are able to combine your passions into your job, it is ok! Many people have the false belief that working in education means you work at a school. There are other ways to be an educator. You can work at a nonprofit, a community center, within policy or the government, etc. You never know where you may end up. Just keep an open mind and make sure you are doing something that you are passionate about and enjoy.

In my A333Y School Instructional Leadership:Seminar and Practicum for School Developers class, taught by Dr. Irvin Scott (a professor who would be a phenomenal mentor), students from BINcA, a fully bilingual school in Boston Public Schools, spoke to my class about their school and how they are preparing to think about what they want to do with their future. These young students were completely open and stated that they are not sure what they want to do when they grow up. I made sure to inform them that discovering what you want to do is an ongoing process that I am always clarifying, changing, and refining even as an adult. Having great mentors make navigating your career more bearable. So lean in to receive help and assistance. You weren’t meant to figure life out all on your own!  

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.

An Abundance of Opportunities!

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When you come to Harvard, it seems as if you have a world of opportunities presented to you. Well, that’s because you actually do! In any given week, Harvard Graduate School of Education will have multiple activities taking place. These events take on different forms and can be lectures, panels, forums, debates, and even discussions. Askwith is an enriching part of HGSE that provides programming with informative educational issues. Some of the topics this year were:

One of the most enriching experiences I have had so far, in regards to bridging the gap between classwork and speakers, stemmed from Monica Higgins“Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Learning” class. We recently studied a case about Ferguson, Missouri. This case discussed the various ways the three surrounding school districts handled the killing of Michael Brown. The current superintendent of  Ferguson-Florissant School District, Joe Davis (HGSE Ed.D. ‘08) spoke to my class and then engaged in an open conversation with the HGSE community. During this conversation, I was inspired by how personable Dr. Davis is and how humbled he is as a leader. I think moments like these are such valuable learning experiences. Although it is impossible to attend every event offered, it is important to pencil a few of these discussions into your schedule. They create a learning experience beyond the classroom.

So how do you find out about all of these opportunities? The Office of Student Affairs sends out a list of the week’s events every Monday at noon. This is the best way to know about events taking place at HGSE. Posters and flyers of the events can be found around campus as well as in the lobby of Gutman Library. For events outside of HGSE, I usually find out through word of mouth, Facebook events, and flyers posted in Harvard Yard.

No matter how you find out about an event, it is always important to push yourself to go! As a Master’s student, you are only here for a year, so make the most of the opportunity! This is such a rich academic community, use it to your advantage!

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Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future. 

Work Hard, Play Hard

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When I look at this picture, I see a woman who is committing a difficult task: balance. I feel this way everyday. This semester I am taking 16 credit hours, completing a required 250 hour internship, and doing all of the readings, projects, and assignments that come along with those classes. That’s just my responsibilities for school. Let’s add on being the Master’s Tri-Chair for the Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC), being an Admissions Ambassador (which gives me the great opportunity to write these blogs!), being a Communications Fellow, attending office hours, listening to speakers, attending debates, and all of the other amazing opportunities that this Harvard education provides. This does not include eating, sleeping, and maintaining a social life with my friends and family that are both here in Cambridge and in other areas of the country.

How do I balance all of my responsibilities and still have time for me? I plan EVERYTHING. It is simple in theory, yet requires a great amount of discipline to follow. In the few months that I have been here, many people have told me that I am very efficient. I never realized this characteristic before being here, but I am glad this strength decided to show up during this time!

Here are a few ways I maintain sanity while everything continues to move around me:

1. Plan to have a calendar.

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I know I already said this but it is important. At the beginning of the semester (or anytime really, you could even start now!) go through all of your syllabi and write down the due dates for all of your assignments on a calendar that you can access on any device (Google Calendar, iCalendar, etc.).

2. Plan your breaks!

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I am a firm believer in work hard, play hard. If you spend time putting all of your assignments on the calendar it can be discouraging. So in order to make yourself feel better, find one weekend a month to take a break from work. I only encourage one weekend, however if you need more time for yourself, then take it! I always find little moments here and there for me. But scheduled weekends cannot be touched by work. Sometimes you just have to be selfish for your own well-being.

3. Plan when you are going to actually do the work! 

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Now that you are encouraged by your scheduled breaks, go back to your calendar and set dates to complete the assignments. For example, if I know that my paper is due Thursday, I am going to schedule time before Thursday to actually work on that paper. This decreases stress because you aren’t working up until the last minute on an assignment. I know this is an idea that may seem unrealistic to those procrastinators out there. Well, guess what? I am a procrastinator too! But because I value my scheduled weekend break so much, I am motivated to stay on schedule so that I can still take my break. I also live by my calendar these days. I used to always use a “mental” calendar, but having all of my obligations in one location is everything and helps keep me sane!

4. Do things that make you happy!

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I love Monday nights with my SLP softball team Resting Pitch Face! So refreshing and rejuvenating!

This is so simple, yet can be so hard. Pamper yourself! If this means you have to rearrange your budget to get your nails and hair done, then that is just a sacrifice that is worth taking. If you need time to work out twice in a day, then make time for it. The things that I used to do to make myself happy are different now that I am back in school, in a different environment, and surrounded by different people. It took some time to rediscover this for myself but I am glad that I did. I personally enjoy lighting candles and binge watching something on Netflix or spending hours catching up with all of my friends.

5. Be aware of your mental health, it’s important!

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A lot of people don’t take mental health seriously. I do! I am a firm believer that it is ok to seek help! The type of help may look different for individuals (some may go to friends, some need time with their pets, others to therapists, or even a mixture of all!), but either way you have to invest in yourself. Sometimes speaking and having someone listen can drastically change your perspective on life. Transitioning to being back in school is difficult. It is ok to feel challenged during the transition back to being a student again. It is NOT ok to suffer in silence by yourself. There are plenty of people who are willing to help. Help comes from your personal support system, your new friends and classmates who are probably feeling the same way, faculty and staff, and of course Harvard Counseling and Mental Health Services. The Counseling and Mental Health Office even have animal therapy. Although I have never tried it, I think it would be pretty cool to play with a therapy dog one day. I know that would definitely be a happy place for me!

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Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.

Home Away From Home

Flashback to August 1: moving day. For the first time in my life, I left everything and everyone behind in North Carolina to come to an area of the country that was completely unknown to me. Everything was different. I was used to my own apartment; here, I share with three other people. I was used to having my own car; here, I walk and use public transportation. How could I make a new life for myself when everyone and everything I knew were miles away? But then I met my SLP (School Leadership) family and everything changed. I was opened up to a community that was loving, caring and very helpful. I started to get to know the people that would help make this foreign place my new home. 

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A majority of my School Leadership Program (SLP) cohort at orientation!

 

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There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. A phrase that I stopped saying thanks to my cohort!

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.