Data News Staff Edited Report
Ashley Daniels-Hall began her education career as a first-grade teacher in Jefferson Parish. Today, she’s the CEO of Einstein Charter Schools. When she thinks about the leader she wants to be, she takes lessons from her time in the classroom.
“I think about how much joy I wanted my kids to have…I wanted them to know how they are empowered by reading, how it’s so uplifting and allows them to make their own choices later in life,” she explains.
“And that leads me to think, what would a CEO who supported that have looked like for me as a first-grade teacher? Someone who really created…the conditions for a collaborative space focused on joy, social-emotional learning, and high expectations.”
Daniels-Hall has translated this vision into action. To create those joyful, empowering, effective classrooms, she’s thinking about what teachers need.
She’s created a cohort aimed at supporting Einstein teachers in their own social-emotional wellness. She hopes it will help great teachers thrive and develop a sustainable practice that helps them build long careers as educators.
“We need to make sure that our teachers are well,” she explains.
This year, fifty teachers are participating in the social-emotional learning (SEL) cohort. If the program goes well, Daniels-Hall plans to expand the practices across all four schools in Einstein’s network: Sarah T. Reed High School, Village de L’est Elementary School, Einstein Middle School, and Sherwood Forest Elementary School.
She believes that teachers deserve wellness in what can be a rigorous and exhausting field. She also feels this program will ultimately serve students. Well-supported teachers are more likely to stay in the classroom, and when they feel holistically cared for, they’re more able to bring care to their children.
Daniels-Hall feels this is critical, as many of her students face challenges outside of school that they bring with them to the classroom.
“So many of our children live in daily unrest that they don’t really know what safety, or a true calm of spirit feels like,” she says.
She says that teachers are often the first ones in a school to sense that a child is struggling. They’re also often the first ones to be asked to help. As they teach children academic content and build a strong classroom culture, they’re often asked to also serve as a listening ear and connect children to resources.
“With that SEL cohort, we’re thinking about how do we really build teachers up to be able to pour into themselves, to allow us to pour into them, so that they have the energy to pour into these children? You cannot pour from an empty tank.”