In addition to an impressive list of keynote speakers, author presenters, and concurrent sessions, this year’s convention will feature special events for NAESP’s Diversity Program, a series of special sessions that will focus on the needs of principals serving largely minority student populations in urban schools.

Eric Brown is the featured speaker for the Minority Networking Session, Mentoring African American Males for the 21st Century (Sunday, April 6, 9-11:00 a.m.). The Principals’ Office recently had the opportunity to talk with Brown about leading minority students to their highest potential. Brown is the co-founder of a program in Rock Hill, South Carolina that is tailored to meet the needs of black males. He is also the principal of Killian Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina.

What is the biggest challenge for leaders of schools that have predominantly minority student populations?

Brown: The biggest challenge is that we can’t change the situations that our children face each and every day. We can’t change what society thinks of them, nor can we change the circumstances or conditions that they are exposed to. However, it is my belief that no matter what obstacles they face, it is our job as principals, teachers etc. to ensure that the children who come to us get our very best each and every day. Children don’t get to choose their parents or the situations they face. Principals, however, have the resources, education, and hopefully the determination to make a difference in the lives of these children.

Why is the mentoring process important to the academic success of black male students?

Brown: The mentoring process is key because society and the media have painted a picture of black males as only being able to effectively exist as athletes, singers, etc. Black males, however, have many more talents than that. Exposing young black males to the careers and opportunities that exist for them will help dispel the myths that are associated with them only being proficient in areas that do not require a good education.

What do principals need to know and be able to do in order to be effective leaders of schools serving minority populations?

Brown: In order to effectively serve as a leader of a minority school, principals must have passion for what they do. They must commit to doing whatever is necessary to successfully educate the children in their school. They need to be innovative and have vision. They also need to identify and hire teachers who buy into the vision that all children can learn. Principals must commit to creating an environment where “excellence is the expectation” and they must never stop holding every teacher and child in their school accountable for teaching and learning.

Visit the convention Web site for more information about the Minority Networking Session and the other Diversity Program events: the Competent Culturally Proficient Administrator Workshop; the First Annual Diversity Reception; and the Diversity Forum, led by former Nashville mayor Bill Paxton Purcell III.

re: Engage in Conversations About Diversity During NAESP's Conv

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