EVOLVER: Aspasia Angelou

aspasia Angelou

school superintendent

Wittmann, Arizona 

 

A VOICE FOR THE VULNERABLE

Aspasia Angelou is an advocate for the most marginalized students in her community and schools. she brings “unique and equitable opportunities to all youth regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion or sexual identity.” admittedly, the line between her work and personal life is blurred, but only because her heart is so fully in it. as the daughter of immigrant parents, she knows deeply that education is one of the few ways individuals can change the trajectory of their lives. plus, she’s fulfilling a childhood dream: she’s wanted to be an educator since grade school. below, aspasia schools us on self-care, social responsibility, and skirts.

 

fall will forever give us that back-to-school feeling, but you actually get to live it year after year. can you tell us about your role?

“come fall, i am inspired by the opportunity for new beginnings for every child, student and teacher. nature sets the tone for us as we move into autumn and the excitement of a new school year means a chance for students to realize their potential and educators to grow in their ability to connect with students. i currently serve as a district superintendent for a small district in Arizona. i also support and coach principals and leadership teams in urban, high poverty settings around the country.”

 

how do you prepare for the school year?

“i create space to grow through my daily meditation, yoga and an intentional openness to ideas and perspectives.”

 

Shop HER YOU-NIFORM

can you walk us through a sample day?

“i start with meditation, journaling and yoga each morning. then, i review my day ahead. i have an hour to finalize any last minute changes to agendas or reports, then i meet with my administrative assistant to ensure we are on the same page. i go to the food bank to volunteer my time and connect with the community. then, i usually have meetings with external partners who support the schools—maybe the medical clinic or library. i will have a few meetings with human resources, curriculum and special education to ensure we are meeting the needs of all our students. then i may read to a class of students or meet with a local business donor.”

 

we’re exhausted. what keeps you energized, motivated and inspired?

“at a young age, i felt the stigma associated with being from a family of immigrants and also accidentally stumbled on the fact that my aunt was illiterate. i get the stigma and shame of that fact. that pivotal event, and the examples of social activism in our society inspire me daily. the way many of my students have seized their power and become dynamic and vocal adults in our community has also inspired me to do more daily. i am inspired by Maya Angelou and Ava Devurney, because they are relentlessly unafraid to confront the hard conversations.”

 

we understand there was a tragedy in your community that may have changed the course of your life?

“a pivotal moment in my life and career was the death of my student, CJ Davis. his mother, Lisa Roberts, granted permission to speak about him, as this was a seminal moment in my development as a leader and individual. CJ was very loved in our school and was killed in a car accident right outside the school. we all united to remember and honor him. we started a 5K in his name and still remember him annually with a scholarship. his smile and character live on despite the pain of losing him so early and tragically. he motivates us all, young and old, educators and non-educators, to be more, do more, and help others more daily.” 

 

what is the professional moment you’re most proud of?

“after teaching in the Dallas Independent School District, i went on to get my masters degree in educational leadership and became an assistant principal and then a principal in Oklahoma City Public Schools. this was one of the steepest learning curves i have ever experienced—gratifying but challenging in a high poverty setting. people came to my house to warn me against accepting the position. but, i bonded with my students, staff and community in Oklahoma City. we made huge gains as we implemented collaborative teacher teams and focused on relationships and data. we went from a failing school to a model school and we were recognized locally and nationally. the best part was the change in the kids, teachers and community—their self esteem and pride were renewed! in that first year as principal, a student came to my office to tell me i wasn’t going to make it until Christmas. we clashed, we challenged each other, and then we connected. we communicate weekly and now i am the godmother to her daughter.”

 

what’s your biggest challenge?

“ensuring that all we allocate resources to meet the needs of each child where they are at uniquely, and support them to reach their full potential. sometimes this means confronting and healing trauma or loss. our greatest opportunity is the chance to connect and interrupt generational poverty.” 

 

how do you recharge, to make sure you can show up for your students and staff?

“hot stone massages and wax pedicures, warm chocolate and cold vanilla bean ice cream. definitely hot yoga, and just  talking about education and changes in our society that i support in various ways."

 

and what do you wear to give you strength and confidence?

“the TRAIL BLAZER blends a classic tailored feminine silhouette with an edgy boldness that embodies strength and courage— it symbolizes what evolvers need to bring about transformation—both personally and professionally. also? THE ONE pencil skirt in sage and black is my ultimate favorite from work to evening.“

 

any advice for the rest of us for navigating personal relationships?

“face-to-face beats virtual or text every time. if you want to connect, look into each other’s eyes and talk, talk, talk—device-free. go old school for the crucial moments. enjoy this moment and the people in your circle, because nothing else is guaranteed."

 

GIVING BACK TO THE bookstormerS   FOUNDATION 

IN THE SPIRIT OF ADVANCING EDUCATION IN UNDERSERVED SCHOOLS, WE SUPPORT THE BOOKSTORMERS FOUNDATIONS EFFORTS TO GET BOOKS IN TO TITLE 1 SCHOOLS


feeling inspired? donate a book today!



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.