Kofi Edusei, Jr.
Progressive Leadership '21
One of the most important lessons I learned was that no one can impact change without support. This program encouraged me to create and develop relationships with people through teaming, building capacity, being clear with expectations, providing actionable feedback, and creating systems to check and ensure quality.
Kofi Edusei, Jr. is a second-year Assistant Principal at PS/MS 161 in Harlem’s District 5. He graduated in May of 2021 as a member of the inaugural cohort of Bank Street’s online Progressive Leadership Program.
We recently asked him about his experience in the program, and here are his responses.
What made you decide to go back to school and earn a leadership degree from Bank Street?
I was able to net positive results in my decade plus within the classroom, but I realized that my influence only stretched so far. Looking out into my community, I knew there was a need for more than what our students were being offered in traditional schooling. So, in an effort to embody the actualization of being a lifelong learner, I applied to Bank Street for developmental support in leadership—not just any type of leadership, but leadership that has the impact of true change. Bank Street has a long, rich tradition of developing the best educational leaders. This, matched with its new approach to digital learning, piqued my interest and made the decision to choose Bank Street so much easier (and convenient).
How do you think the program prepared you for leadership roles in school settings?
I entered the program recognizing many of the pitfalls in education and realizing that equity was at the forefront of being an effective leader. I wanted to learn how to think on a more macro level—What is the root of the problem? What can be done? The Progressive Leadership Program did not give me a one-size fits-all road map to being an effective leader. What it did was help me to become more reflective by taking deep dives into adult and organizational development. I learned about the pitfalls and misconceptions of my own implicit biases and how challenging them helps improve one’s pedagogy. This practice allowed me to leverage my strengths, identify my weaknesses, and create a game plan for development while learning the latest trends in education.
One of the most important lessons I learned was that no one can impact change without support. This program encouraged me to create and develop relationships with people through teaming, building capacity, being clear with expectations, providing actionable feedback, and creating systems to check and ensure quality. The program also helped me to realize that challenging the status quo and having difficult conversations are necessary in impacting change.
During the program, how did you apply what you were learning at your school?
Three members of my school community completed the program together. We advocated for roles within our school community. Each of us led several teams, including (but not limited to) grade-level teams and content development teams that worked with the way our school was organized. We were on committees, such as the School Leadership Team, which enabled us to engage with the community and better understand the needs of the families that we served. It allowed us to have discussions we normally wouldn’t have in our classrooms, apply the ideas we were learning, and then bring what we had put into practice back to the Bank Street class for discussion. We grew together, and it allowed us to really see the work that needs to be done within our community.
How would you describe your experience with the Bank Street faculty?
They are amazing! I really enjoyed every one of the experiences that I had with each teacher. From the very beginning, I felt welcomed into the community. The number of different techniques that they used, including not just ice-breakers, but real questions that allowed you to feel like you were part of the family, so to speak. Whenever I needed them, they were there, ready to give great feedback and allowing me to make those mistakes, to challenge my thinking, and to come back and be able to complete the work in a way that’s helped me to truly grow.
What have you noticed about other Bank Street grads working in the field?
The Bank Street graduates that I know are some of the best leaders out there. They value culture and equity. They value the community, and these are some of the staples that I learned at Bank Street. I learned to take what I see and be able to name it so I can do something about it. This is what Bank Street leaders do so well.
How would you describe Bank Street in three words?
Innovative. Inclusive. Progressive. When you go through this program, you come out ready to take on the world.