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Five Questions with Allen Mickens: Ralph Waldo Emerson Administrator Discusses His Journey into Leadership

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) recently asked Allen Mickens, the administrative lead at Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58, what National Principals Month Means to him.

October is National Principals Month, which gives the school community the perfect opportunity to recognize that position’s significant influence. Principals set the tone for the building, keeping things running smoothly from the cafeteria to classrooms and the playground.

Q — What inspired you to become a principal, and how has your journey shaped your role today?

A — I have always wanted to be an educator. I knew early on that this was the path God set me on. I wanted to impact as many lives as I could. 

Q —What are the most rewarding aspects of being a principal and working in education?

A — I think it is supporting our kids and families on their journey. Being able to serve black and brown children to eliminate the barriers that have long plagued the most marginalized citizens. 

Q—How do you foster a positive school culture and build strong relationships within your school community?

A—I believe in having a servant leadership mindset, taking time to connect, and getting to know your community. 

Q — What strategies do you find most effective in supporting your teachers and staff to help them excel in their roles?

A— First, build your relationships while having a clear plan for support for each role. We also need to keep open lines of communication and instill a culture of coaching.

Q — As we celebrate National Principal Month, is there a message or advice you’d like to share with your fellow educators, students, and parents?

A — Ask yourself if you’re building better because you lead it and never forget that the power

of relationships goes along with all aspects of your leadership. And remember, the power of “yet!” Although things might not be where you want them at this moment (yet), your time is coming!