Patricia Harper Reynolds
Walsh Elementary School - Network 7
I was raised in Englewood (my parents still reside in my childhood home) and although getting an education was not always the push in my community, it was a necessity in our home. As the youngest of four, I was always afforded the opportunity to express myself (chatty Patty is what they called me) and felt free to communicate my feelings and thoughts. However, this was not a welcomed practice in school and I was often in trouble for it. As a result, I simply did what I was told and moved through the system. It was not until my junior year at Hyde Park that I found my voice. I do not want my students to feel the way I did. I believe that there is a need to establish expectations of quality, equity and excellence, and that results are achieved when there is distributive leadership that works in collaboration with students. Engaging school leaders and teachers to expand opportunities to listen and learn from young people has strengthened my passion for problem solving, and developing systems and processes that advance student achievement and ownership.
Why I do the work I do
My "why" has always been about access and opportunity for young people who have not been afforded the opportunity to advocate for themselves. I am currently the Principal of an elementary school; however, my background was high school. The work that I do centers around confronting the old adage that children should be seen and not heard. We see student agency a lot in high school, but, rarely in elementary settings. I believe that if we truly create a space early on for students to be contributors and future leaders, then we will see that they can effectively articulate their needs and what they see as best practices for them as individuals and as a group.
My equity challenge and how I work on it
My equity challenge is focused on resolving adult practices/adultism that leads to a lack of student voice, specifically concerning boys and the potential effects on attendance, achievement, and belonging in schools. I have been working with the CPS Office of Equity, as well as the National Equity Project, to further develop my capacity to equitably lead and re-imagine my leadership to further develop teachers and design new opportunities with students.
What sustains me when equity work stalls, how do I stay motivated when the work gets hard, and how do I push myself and others to advance equity
When the equity work stalls, I am sustained by the needs of my students and all the students in Chicago. There will always be obstacles. There will always be opportunities to give up. But, our young people deserve the best versions of us, as well as advocates and allies that understand that this work has to be done despite the circumstances. I push myself by remembering what it felt like to be silenced and the urgent needs of my students.