Women in Leadership: Finding Balance

Strategies on work-life balance, making professional connections, and more.

Topics: Principal Leadership, Women in Leadership

Strategies on work-life balance, making professional connections, and more.
December 2019, Volume 43, Issue 4

Female principals often find themselves in isolation, struggling to balance the demands of personal and professional life. That’s why NAESP asked three female principals—Kimbrelle Barbosa Lewis, Kas Nelson, and Jessica Gomez—to share their stories, challenges, and successes in the latest webinar in the Women in Pre-K-8 Leadership Webinar series. In Finding Balance With Competing Demands, panelists discussed strategies that help them balance lifestyle, work, health, and wellness choices in their rise as school leaders.

The following are takeaways from each panelist.

Operate in Your Priorities
Barbosa Lewis is no stranger to leadership—but that doesn’t mean finding a work-life balance has been easy for her. NAESP president-elect and principal of Cordova Elementary School in Tennessee, she’s learned to define her role as the school leader, share leadership, and negotiate avenues (not the destination). Here are a few other tips.

  • Don’t forget to develop you. Professional growth happens through connections. Be open to redefining what professional learning looks like.
  • Link with the community. Community connections broaden perspective. Take time to model giving back for your students and staff.
  • Make time for you and your family—and don’t feel guilty about it. Set times that are only for family and friends, and don’t neglect your health.

Grow Professionally
Gomez leads Alice Birney Elementary School, which serves 680 students—100 percent receive reduced-price lunch; 95 percent are Hispanic; and 50 percent are English learners. Gomez is a huge proponent for self-care of the mind and body who focuses on finding connections in education leadership to lean on, reading to learn, and building routines. She shares these tips to grow professionally while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

  • Remember, your reputation follows you. Have your “true North” defined, be yourself, and stay true to your own message.
  • Know your branding. Know who you are and what you want people to see you as. Become active in professional organizations, in online professional learning communities, and by giving back.
  • Build up other women. Publicly celebrate other women’s successes, create opportunities for women to shine, and help remove obstacles for other women.

Positive Feed
Nelson is principal of Vici Elementary School and serves on the NAESP Board of Directors, but you might also know her on social media as one member of the #NonstopNelsons family. That’s not an understatement. Kas boasts a running streak that tops 1,500 days in a row. She puts that dedication and determination to good use as a school leader and mom who has learned to prioritize what’s important to her. Here are some other tips on finding balance between your professional and personal roles.

  • In your professional role: Simplify tasks. Grow your professional learning network (in-person and online). And spread joy and laughter.
  • In your personal role: Fill your social media feed with positivity. Focus on self-care and wellness. Have an attitude of gratitude.

For more tips to balance your work life and professional life, download the full webinar, the audio version, and the slide presentation. Check out upcoming NAESP webinars for additional professional development opportunities.

Copyright © 2019. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.