#istepUP: The Power of and Imperative For Mentoring Present and future Leaders! @DremilyAMassey @PrincipalDynami
The STEP UP Foundation had its inaugural conference in Atlanta at the Arthur Blank Foundation this weekend. The conference theme was " I Dream To....Turning Dreams into Reality." Walking into this beautifully appointed space, I had no idea that I would receive a mentoring epiphany and experience the reciprocity I needed for recalibration and reset of my role as associate superintendent, mentor and as a woman. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as one of five panelists who would kick off the event and set the imperative for the importance of mentoring young women. I was also surrounded with mentors from all backgrounds and professions that ranged from pediatricians, ER doctors, to educational consultants, attorneys, elected officials, stay at home moms, COOs, and senior management of top corporations. As each of us told our stories of how mentoring impacted us, it was clear that we can not make this journey in life without appropriate mentorship. As we engaged the 60 ninth and tenth grade students from South Atlanta HS, Washington HS, and Banneker HS, you could see that that the uniqueness of our stories resonated at some level with all of them and created a connection that would forever become etched in their very being. One panelist, Lydia Glaize, elected official and co-chair of the Aerotropolis Education collaborative, spoke on the "indirect and direct mentors" that will come into your life and mentees have to be able to take all "crumbs" and nuggets of wisdom dropped and turn it in to something to impact our lives positively. The Mayor of East Point, GA, Deana Ingraham, spoke on the how her law professors gave her mantras that she always carried with her like the three P's for success being preparation, preparation, and more preparation. Linda Brigham spoke on the importance of her mother as her first role model and mentor Nancy Flake-Johnson, CEO of the Urban League, thanked Linda for mentoring her and giving substantive advice and guidance in securing corporate support for the Urban League. As I stood to speak, I could not help but take the girls through my extensive listing of women who saw something in me that I didn't see in myself, what laid dormant and needed to be ignited and what skills and traits that needed to be developed in me. I spoke of my mother's 49 year requirement of me to be strong, yet sweet and kind, I was also able to speak to several dynamic woman that kept me on a positive path. I spoke the names of Mrs. Everett and Mrs. Coleman, two of my elementary teachers, Deloris Bryant Booker, Brenda Bridges, Barbara Grainger, Jeanne Wood, Gwendolyn Miller-Smith and Barbara Naylor Hill, Pamela Hall, and Meria Carstarphen all women that put and kept me on the path to leadership. As panelists, we were clear to point out that mentors would come in both genders and we have to be able to recognize mentors through their confidence, influence, compassion, and desire to help you achieve what is BEST for you. After we hugged all of the mentors and mentees after the panel, we met in the hallway for a quick picture and a moment to say how in awe we were of each other. At that point of epiphany, I saw that every positive influence and mentor had led me to this amazing moment and I would be forever changed by it. I saw that exposure, access and representation matter tremendously. It also validated that paying it forward is not an option, it's the imperative. I thank APS partnerships, the StepUp team and the OATH Foundation for such an awe-inspiring event. I will forever do my best to STEP UP! #iStepUp @SUWN
Dr. Emily Abrams Massey is a former Associate Superintendent in a metro-Atlanta school district, principal and leadership advocate, educational consultant and career educator.