Leveling the Playing Field
This title is fitting because making sure that the students I serve and have served possess the same exposures, opportunities and access has been my purpose in the 30 years I have been in education. I can’t say that I have walked in the shoes of many of my students, but I can say that my eyes have always been open and my awareness keen to the disparity and differences. When I majored in secondary education, I accepted the charge of making a difference in their lives and ensuring that all of my students have information and access.
Sitting in education classes at Kentucky State University, professors did not (perhaps they could not) adequately explain that as a teacher and administrator, I would wear many different hats and function in various non-educational roles throughout my career. Facts. I learned to be a better listener, how to show more empathy, to help problem solve life’s issues, to be a non-academic resource…..and I am better for it. I have always treated my students the exact same way I would expect my biological students to be treated at school. This has been a major part of my success.
I started at Marion-Franklin High School and I fostered my purpose at Independence High School, Beery Middle School, Southmoor Middle School, Indianola Middle School (all in Columbus City Schools), South High School, Whitney M. Young School of the Gifted and Talented, Carl F. Shuler High School, Washington Park Environmental Studies Academy (all in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District) and presently, at Cleveland Heights High School. I have travelled through the doors of many schools never wavering from my intentions. All of these experiences afforded me many opportunities, numerous teachable moments, and numberless “should’ves and could’ves.” The core of it all centered around my ability to ensure that all of my students (I have always affectionately referred to them all as “my kids”) knew that I cared and had their best interests. I have invariably been committed to tapping into their potential in some kind of way!
Many of my former students have kept in touch with me over the years! In this regard, social media is a Godsend! They have graduated college, completed programs, served our country, have a spouse and children - and I feel proud to be privy to the the path they chose. When possible, one of them will contact me and recant something that I said or did…..it always makes me smile. I am reminded that in spite of the mistakes that I made - and there are too many to count - I did something right.
My advice to students - now and then - is to do right by people without exception - in all capacities. This will serve as a strong foundation in whatever they choose to do. I used to post the same quote on every bulletin board, every year and it read: “We cannot change the direction of the wind, but we can always adjust the sail.” Truth.
I consider myself an adjuster and regulator for my students. The wind is symbolic of many things to them, and despite whether it is blustery, stormy or unsettling - they have and have had me to help them to adjust and anchor for 30 years.
A northeast Ohio resident, Alisa has an extensive background within the PreK-12 system. She has served in administrative roles at multiple middle and high schools within two of Ohio’s Urban 8 districts, Columbus City and Cleveland Metropolitan. Alisa currently serves as a high school principal in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District in northeast Ohio.
Alisa Educational History:
1985 - HS Graduate, Fayette County Public Schools
1989 - BS in English education, 9-12, Kentucky State University
1994 - Master’s of Education in higher education and student affairs, The Ohio State University
2009 - Ed.S in education administration, Cleveland State University
2015 - Ph.D in urban leadership: education administration, Cleveland State University