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'Melanated PrinciGALS': Group of Black female principals create community, inspiration in Milwaukee schools

melanated princigals
Posted at 4:14 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 10:56:36-04

MILWAUKEE — During the pandemic, Messmer High School Principal Shenora Staten-Jordan was looking for support and community in her career.

"I was lonely and stuck," Staten-Jordan said. "I felt it was necessary to find a group of women that share similar experiences as me."

She did just that and created the group the Melanated PrinciGALS. It's now a group of 23 Black women principals from public, private and charter schools in the Milwaukee area.

"We created a great sense of sisterhood around service and educational leadership," Staten-Jordan said about the growth of the group in just a couple of years.

Shantee Jude-Williams, principal of Hawthorne Elementary School, recently joined the Melanated PrinciGALS. She said when she first heard about it, there was no doubt in her mind that she would join.

"We're able to build people up and be servant leaders in our community and at our schools, and let other women see that you too can make it happen and look good doing it," Jude-Williams said.

The women in the group lean on each other for support, encouragement and ideas. They also serve as the role models they didn't necessarily have.

"My experience going to school, I did not have a principal that looked like me," said Milwaukee College Prep Lola Rowe North principal Kanika Burks. "I did not have a principal, or should say someone in leadership, that looked like me until I got into college. Definitely one of the things that inspired me to become an educators is I wanted to make sure that other children see people that looked like them."

Staten-Jordan echoed the importance of being a role model at her school.

"Our students can see that you can be a woman, particularly a woman of color, and lead. Not only in the classroom, but personally," she said.

Students at Messmer High School are already taking notice, like Senior Tarralyn Woods who is attending Marquette next year.

"I think it gives a lot of students representation. It makes Black female students feel like they could do good, that they could strive for greatness seeing a Black female in that position," Woods said.

Eventually, the Melanated PrinciGals hope to take their movement beyond Milwaukee, and inspire the next generation of leaders across the country.

"We are shaping the future and so if we are moving parts of the world, guess what? They're going to take over," Burks said.

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