05/17/2017 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

“Lean On” Spotlight: Chelsea and Danielle

CS&A's inaugural Women's Institute will be held on June 16 in Boston.

meet chelsea and danielle with conference logo Stay connected with CS&A

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be shining the spotlight on the incredible individuals who will be speakers and panel leaders at our Women’s Institute, the theme of which is “Lean On: Strengthening One Another Through mentorship and Collective Wisdom.”

chelsea.collinsChelsea Collins

-Middle School Head, The Kinkaid School (TX)
-Started career as a science teacher at a KIPP public school
-Joined Kinkaid in 2003 and has served as a science teacher, Assistant Admission Director, and Assistant Middle School Division Head

Describe a key moment, person, or other event that was critical in getting you to where you are now, whether personally or professionally.

Time and place was certainly on my side. With a degree in chemistry, I thought I wanted to teach high school until only one week into my teaching career. I was transferred to a middle school and fell in love with middle school students. At the time, I taught public school. The children reminded me of my own experiences. My principal made a personal investment in my success and encouraged me to pursue a career in administration. When I relocated to Houston, I realized that my out-of-state certification did not transfer. As a result, I secured employment in an independent school. Although most of my new students’ experiences were unlike my own, I found a connection and quickly understood my new found purpose: to educate beyond the curriculum. When asked where I saw myself in the next 5-10 years, I shared that I saw myself in the role of a Middle School Head. My then mentor gave his word to me that I would attain my goal (with his assistance) before he retired. True to his word, I was hired as the first African American, female Head of The Kinkaid Middle School.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that compare to where you are now?

When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher because I loved my teachers. However, as a first-generation college graduate, my parents wanted me to become a doctor so that I could become financially secure! While my parents were not enthusiastic about my decision to become a teacher, particularly considering the sacrifices they had made, they were satisfied that I was happy and could care for my needs. As I continued my educational journey–receiving a master’s degree, becoming an administrator, and now pursuing my doctorate degree–I remain humble in my purpose: to become as blessing to others as I have been blessed. Though I am not a doctor as my parents originally desired, they often express their pride and joy in me as I pursue my career goals.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

“Never do your job afraid of being fired!”

What do you think is one of the biggest challenges women in the educational community face? How do you hope it’s addressed at the Institute?

I suspect that one of the biggest challenges that we face is battling our own insecurities. If we are too strong, we are perceived as aggressive. If we care too much, we are perceived as weak. There are some people and things we may not be able to change in our lifetime, but our mission is to try and make the task easier for the next generation of girls. I hope that we are able to unveil our personal balance unapologetically. We are who we are, and what we should change, we will; what we should not, we are confident enough not to tarry. Let us support and encourage one another to conquer higher grounds. Let us promote one another and not get caught up in the “stereotypical woman drama.” Let us stand on the shoulders of each other, united, pushing and pulling one another through the glass ceiling–and if all else fails, let’s be bold and throw rocks!

danielle-heardDanielle Heard

-Head of School, Nashoba Brooks School (MA)
-Has held teaching and coaching positions at The Emma Willard School, Dana Hall School, and Willow Hill School
-Serves on boards of Association of Independent Schools of New England, Belmont Hill School, and National Coalition of Girls Schools

Who is your female role model, or general role model, and why?

Among the many great role models I have had in my life, my mother rises to the top of the list for her wisdom, candor, strength, tenacity, and perspective. In my twenties, I remember questioning whether I was qualified to apply for a leadership position at a new level. My mother’s response was, “Why would you ever apply for a job if you have already done every item on the list of responsibilities? You need to continue to grow. Focus on the skills you bring and what you can do in the future rather than what you did in the past.”

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

A coach once told me, “If you stop getting better, you stop being good.”

Have you been a mentor or mentee? Describe your experience.

I have been fortunate to have exceptional mentors in my life. I rely on them daily for wisdom, perspective, guidance, balance, and humor. Though I continue to be amazed by the generosity of these individuals, now that I have also sat in the mentor seat, I realize that these relationships can be a reciprocal, priceless gift for both mentor and mentee.

Who was your favorite teacher in school?

I have been so blessed to have so many extraordinary teachers in my life, I could not possibly pick one favorite. Their lessons are lasting gifts: content, skills, perspectives, values, questions, integrity, compassion, humility, purpose, and care. The list goes on.

Check back as we share more about the fantastic and talented Honorary Faculty members who will be joining us in June.

Want to learn more about the Women’s Institute or register now? Click here! Registration closes this Friday, May 19!

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