PMP321: Lessons in the Leadership Journey with Shenita Perry

Will Parker and Shenita Perry share with listeners one leader’s lessons in the journey of finding the right fit in leadership in this weeks episode.

Shenita Perry is a native of Newport News, Virginia. She attended Alabama State University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education (BME) in 1994, a Master’s Degree in Music Education (MME) in 1996, and Certification in Educational Leadership in 2005. Shenita also recently completed the Certification in School Management and Leadership from Harvard University in July of 2022. 

Shenita has worked as an educator with the Montgomery Public Schools school system since 1994. She served as an elementary music specialist for 22 years and is currently in her 7th year as a middle school assistant principal. She has worked in both Title I and Magnet School settings. 

Shenita’s goal is to become a transformational instructional leader where she can empower students and educators to become their very best and succeed in work and life. She loves to serve, motivate and inspire others to achieve their goals. She is currently assistant principal at Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet School in Montgomery, Alabama.

Recently, Principal Matters podcast did a series on tips for transitioning positions in education. As a long-time listener, you shared your leadership journey story with me, and I wanted to invite a practicing administrator to share it with listeners one leader’s lessons in the journey of finding the right fit in leadership.

  • You serve at a school for the arts. What makes Baldwin Arts a special place for you and your school community? 

Baldwin Arts is a middle school that serves students who are very academically advanced or very artistically inclined. Students are able to pursue things that they are passionate about, which keeps them engaged in school.

  • Everyone has a unique story in his or her education leadership journey. Can you tell us yours?

Shenita initially struggled finding a leadership position in a school. She spent 11 years trying to find an administration job in education. In 2016 she finally was able to step into a leadership position as a middle school assistant principal.

  • What advice would you give leaders who are looking for movement in their career but are struggling to find the right fit? 

Staying patient and remembering that you are a small fish in a big pond when it comes to interviewing for education leadership positions. Sometimes waiting to find that right position will help you prepare yourself for when you finally become an administrator. Be persistent and if being in education leadership is right for you, you will eventually find the right position.

  • In our previous episodes, we talked about tips for transitioning in education and included 10 tips: Update your resume. Talk to your leadership. Network with others. Research prospects. Demonstrate your excellence. Make introductory calls. Subscribe to job searches. Create a backward timeline. Adapt an ‘Odyssey’ plan. And celebrate success along the way. What tips would you highlight or add to that list?

Using Justin Baeder’s resources to help you build and update your resume. Be reflective on your practice and ask yourself “what impact did your leadership have on your students”? Make sure that your resume is a selling point for you. Connect with other leaders: you cannot be an island; you need to bounce ideas of others with experience. 

  • Where do you find strength or inspiration in your current journey?

Surrounding yourself with a strong support group and finding ways to connect with leaders outside of your school district, outside of your state, etc. Use resources such as Baruti Kafele, Harvard CSML course, PLN’s, and the Principal Matters podcast to build a network of connections.

  • What parting advice would you give leaders and how can they stay in touch with you?

Don’t just focus on one component. Learn as much as you can about the variety of areas school leaders manage… Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Be ready to lead adults too, not just students. 

Connect with Shenita Perry on the Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet School website.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker