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The Courage to Lead

This past year, Meghan Lee (Chicago-Northwest Indiana, '12) became assistant principal of her placement school, Herzl School of Excellence. Here, Meghan shares what she's learned in this role and what she's committing to in the year ahead.

December 16, 2019

The front of a school building in Chicago.

As the calendar year comes to a close, it is a great time to reflect on what has happened and what is yet to come. To give some context to my reflections, I am a proud 2012 Chicago corps member who taught for six years at Herzl School of Excellence, a pre-K through eighth grade neighborhood school on the city’s west side.

During my six years at Herzl, I was a diverse learning teacher, math lead teacher, and case manager. Each of those roles, and the mentorship I received from my principal, Tamara Davis, were integral in my decision to pursue my principal endorsement. So during the 2018-19 school year, I completed the Chicago Leadership Collaborative Principal Residency program as a New Leader. Last spring, I received my principal eligibility after working as a resident principal in another Chicago Public Schools (CPS) neighborhood school.

When it was time for me to look for a position in leadership, I couldn’t help but feel pulled back to the neighborhood of North Lawndale and the school community which I hold so dear, Herzl. Why do I love Herzl so much? Much of it has to do with the students, families, and staff that I work with on a day-to-day basis. Herzl scholars and leaders are resilient in the face of challenges. They are caring and will go out of their way to make sure to greet you or ask how you are. Herzl staff are committed to ensuring that students receive an excellent and equitable education so that our students are prepared for high school, college, and career. Herzl’s students and staff have become my Chicago family. The school is my home away from home. So with all that being said, when the assistant principal position at Herzl was opening, I knew deep down that was where I needed to be. 

“Herzl’s students and staff have become my Chicago family. The school is my home away from home.”

Meghan Lee

Assistant Principal, Herzl School of Excellence

Chicago-Northwest Indiana Corps Member 2012

This year, my first as assistant principal, our school community has been focused on our mantra: The Courage to Learn, the Courage to Lead, and the Courage to Succeed.

This past year taught me that it takes Courage to Learn the ins and outs of being a school leader. Not just the role itself but how I, personally, navigate this role on a daily basis. It took courage for me to reflect on my areas of growth, build my self-awareness, and think about how I show up each and every day for students, families, and staff. I've realized these reflections are necessary for me lead a team to educate students with excellence and equity.

I have also learned the importance of having the Courage to Lead a staff, no matter the situation, with a shared, relentless focus on academic and social excellence. Leadership manifests itself in many ways throughout a school day. I have learned that by putting students first and coaching my teachers to be the very best instructional leaders that they can be we will make the greatest impact.

In the coming year, my commitment is to sustain my Courage to Learn and Lead so that the teachers and scholars of Herzl School of Excellence will have the Courage to Succeed. Every moment in the upcoming year is an opportunity for me to learn, alongside my staff and students, the ways in which I can best lead. There will be missteps and moments of celebration. What I am certain of though, is that having the Courage to Succeed necessitates having the courage to reflect and the courage to grow.