Tuesday, October 7,Gina Washington, director of the SIUE/East St. Louis Charter High School, met with 22 first-year students (all black women) from SIUE. Washington discussed leadership and the rewards of pursuing a career as an educator.
Washington responded to a range of questions and spent considerable time talking with the students. She recalled her journeys from college student to bank teller to teacher to principal to director of the charter school. She also shared her experiences working with her staff, serving the needs of students, interacting with parents, and attending meetings with officials in East St. Louis and SIUE administrators (all those commitments often in a single day).
Washington is hip and energetic, students noted. She gave them a view of a high school educator that was not as common. In fact, her visit prompted some of the young women to begin considering fields of education for potential career options.
A series of touching moments occurred after the talk. One by one, students approached Washington to ask her questions and seek advice about their own journeys. Washington gave the young women undivided attention and responded to their many queries.
|First-year student Kali Pray speaks with Gina Washington.|
Lauryn Fox. a first-year student, had three words to describe Washington: "Lovely. Intelligent. Inspiring." She went on to say, "I love seeing a strong black woman make it."
Nicola Paulette, a third-year student who graduated from the Charter High School, noted what it meant to have Washington in her life. Paulette said that she was really inspired "seeing a black woman with an education who is using it for a good purpose." And because Washington "talks to me as if I could be in her position," said Paulette, she has begun envisioning herself working in the field of education.
• Fall 2014 Public Programming