How important is a Mentor?

In the midst of finding out recently that I will be moving from vice-principal to principal, I have been reflecting on my career path.  I continue to think about the numerous people that have supported me over the years in developing as an educator and as a leader.

My thoughts began with Margaret Hall (@MargMaryHall), the principal that first tapped me on the shoulder and encouraged me to take on additional responsibilities in the school.   I will always remember the extremely important advice she shared with many of us, “Your health first, your family second and your work third.”  When I began as a vice-principal, I had to say that over and over to help find a balance in my life, especially because I truly do love the work I do, but it can’t be the only thing I am.

There were many other individuals who have had an influence on who I have become as a leader, but none more so than my twin sister, Allison Sargent (@asargent75).  I am fortunate enough to work closely with her, as she is also a principal in the same board that I work in.  Talk about a built in mentor!  New administrators are on a steep learning curve and having someone to ask even the silliest question is important.  Not every one is lucky enough to have a family member to do that with, but finding a confidant that you are comfortable with certainly helps with the transitions.  The relationships I have developed with co-workers like Flora Love-Jedruch (@FloraJedruch) who have now become friends have created an invaluable support system for all of us.

I’ve also worked with mentors who I could have intelligent, healthy disagreements with and those who are honest with me at all times, both good and . . . not so good.  Thanks Pepe Garieri (@PePe14PePe)!  I have learned better organizational skills and internalized the importance of building relationships after working with Lorella Costanzo and Letizia Tremonti (@LetiziaTremonti).  Each of these experiences has made me a stronger, more confident person but mainly more confident to take risks, this new blog being one of them!

I’ve touched on professional mentors I’ve had, but I also think about the impact my parents, my husband, and my children have had on who I am today.  Do I see them as mentors?  There are definitely bits and pieces of each of them that are reflected in my leadership style and  I continue to view this evolving process as a way to become a better educator, leader and person.

The field of education is not a solitary one but a networked system of goal-orientated, like minded individuals.  The vast majority of us wouldn’t be here if we didn’t want all individuals, both students and staff to succeed!  For me, the relationships developed with my mentors have been invaluable.  When you think about those in your life that have had influences in who you have become, could you imagine yourself where you are without them?


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