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Thursday, May 30, 2024

The color of leadership: MelanatED Leaders in Indianapolis

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Walking into the room, you can feel the excited buzz of everyone present. This space was cultivated by a communal spirit. Everyone that is here wants to be here. The Candor Consultancies program (a joint partnership between MelanatED Leaders and Teach

For America) has a way of drawing people in. On this evening, the final meeting of the group, there is a bittersweet feeling in the air but an understanding that all who have participated have witnessed something special.

For the last year, 10 Black and Latinx educators have met quarterly for three hours a night to commune over their shared interest in radically enhancing the quality of education in Indianapolis by strengthening their leadership skills and mindsets. In each of these four meetings, the intention was for each participant to push comfort zones for themselves and their peers in order to build a more confident and capable leader by seeing problems strategically and understand all that is at play within themselves and the system in question.

The Candor Consultancies is a program of MelanatED Leaders, an organization that serves to build a powerful community of educators of color across Indianapolis. MelanatED Leaders was founded in 2019 by Patrick Jones to help build a community of Black and brown leaders in the space. Over the last few years, MelanatED Leaders has proven itself to be a catalyst for change in Indianapolis, bringing together educators of color from diverse backgrounds to raise the bar for excellence in educator training and K-12 teaching across the city. Led by Jones and Pennie Gregory, the goal of MelanatED Leaders is to ultimately ensure that every institution that serves children of color has a powerful and competent leader of color in every level of leadership.

During the 2021-2022 Candor Consultancies cohort programming, participants convened to discuss theories and strategies for change in their work. Key issues that participants learned about were mind traps, or everyday thought patterns that have the ability to keep educators from engaging in the self-examination that can lead to success in their work. Participants learned to overcome mind traps by asking themselves whether they were listening to be right, serve their ego, to create a simple story or to control. In addition to the concept of mind traps, participants learned how beneficial it is to practice vulnerability with co-workers and students.

To Candor Consultancies leaders and cohort members, vulnerability is a superpower that allows each participant to be truthful about how they are experiencing the world to move their work forward free of unspoken and vague frustration that show up in us even if we do not think we are communicating those frustrations. As educators of color, each participant understands the need for a space where they have permission to be vulnerable. From unpacking written works such as “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual”by Luvvie Ajayi Jones to hearing from each cohort member about significant challenges faced in the classroom and team meetings, Candor Consultancies empowered this year’s cohort to feel seen and heard while equipping them with the strategy and skills necessary to succeed. 

By the end of the last session, each cohort member exuded joy and hope for the future. When asked what impact their time spent in the cohort had on their lives, each of the members expressed their appreciation for the way Candor Consultancies empowered them to prioritize their own development as educators and human beings, the community building and networking opportunities that the cohort provided for them as educators of color, and the confidence to be an effective educator in the city of Indianapolis. Equipped with necessary tools gleaned from working with the Candor Consultancy, these educators will go on to build a brighter, more capable Indianapolis.

MelanatED Leaders thanks the Indianapolis Recorder for its continued support of our organization and for supporting the Black community for over a century.

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