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Q&A with AACTE Coaching’s Leslie T. Fenwick

Leslie T. Fenwick, Ph.D., is AACTE’s dean in residence and dean emerita of the School of Education and a professor of education policy at Howard University. Fenwick will facilitate the Deans of Color cohort, part of AACTE’s new Coaching initiative. In the following Q&A, AACTE asked Fenwick for a preview of her cohort’s coursework and what members can expect from participating in this new AACTE-exclusive experience.

Who inspired you to become an educator?

I was inspired by my family’s tradition. About half of my family (nuclear and extended) are in the education professions as K-12 teachers and administrators, and university professors and administrators. The other half are in the medical/dental/nursing/health professions.

My parents encouraged me to consider elementary education as my college major. After graduation, when I became a novice fourth-grade teacher, my mom was the first to suggest that I develop my own philosophy about how to best reach and teach my students. Later, my dad inspired me to pursue graduate school and the professorate. In fact, my dad was the first to tell me that I should aspire to become a school of education dean because he thought I understood the nuances of leadership. At the time he said this to me I was an assistant professor and becoming a dean was not even a consideration. I’m exceedingly fortunate (and grateful) to have had my exceptional parents’ guidance throughout every phase of my career as an educator.

What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received as a dean?

Always take the high road. Even when you’re justified to take the low road…resist. Take the high road.

What is your coaching cohort important?

Each member of my coaching cohort is an exemplar in his/her/their own right. I’m excited about the opportunity to support the personal and professional growth of this exceptional group of leaders.

What excites you about the cohort you are coaching?

In 2007 when I was appointed dean, I asked the university’s provost to support my attendance at AACTE’s New Dean Institute (at the time). The Institute was a deeply impactful and phenomenal opportunity to learn and share in a cohort with other newly appointed education deans under the tutelage of experienced and successful deans. I still remember that time with great fondness and hope to create an equally nourishing experience for/with my coaching cohort.

To learn more about AACTE Cohort Coaching, visit the webpage.

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