International Women’s Day is observed today worldwide.
While 76% of teachers and 62% of principals in Texas are female, last year only 7 of Houston’s 39 districts were led by women. One of the city’s 7 female leaders is our own Sehba Ali. Read Sehba’s reflections on women in leadership below.
As a woman of color and mother of 3, serving nearly 14,000 students and families, I have learned that we can be mothers, wives, daughters, and leaders all at the same time. While I know this today, I admit I didn’t always believe it. Over the years, I’ve learned that being a mother has made me a better leader. I am more understanding, nurturing, empathic, and definitely more efficient. Both my family and the children I serve are of utmost importance to me. Though a juggling act, I firmly believe that women can achieve all their dreams, personal and professional.
I want young girls to know that no barrier is too big or too high; through hard work, grit, courage, and persistence, any dream is possible. As women, we must reach out to each other and lean on each other for help and support. We should seek mentors and critical friends who can help us blaze our trail.
In sixth grade, I met one of my mentors, Audrey King, my dance teacher for over 10 years. Miss King led a challenging life, losing her parents at a young age and surviving the horrific trials of life in a concentration camp during WWII. Yet, every time I entered my dance lesson, Miss King had a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes. She loved life; no obstacle was too great for her. Miss King taught me that grit, courage, perseverance, and optimism could get me through anything.
Today, as the Superintendent of KIPP Houston Public Schools, many of the character strengths we hope to develop in our students are the same ones that Miss King taught me as a young girl. I was fortunate to have such an incredible mentor and guide. As she did for me, I believe that as women leaders, it is our responsibility to lift others as we climb – to pave the way for those who come after us while reaching up to our mentors to guide us forward.
Sehba Ali, Superintendent
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