Gwendolyn J. Best
Bringing people together to be their best and do the most good for children is the closest thing I have to a super power.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Collaboration and teamwork are two practices I value most as an educator. Those two things have sparked inspiration, spurred my professional growth, and kept me excited about the benefits and power of a positive social, emotional and academic experience for all students. My positive professional experiences and proven track record of being an ideal teammate are rooted in my genuine love and respect for people.
Encouraging collaboration and teamwork that builds trust and strengthens relationships within schools is the type of work I enjoy most. That work brings me joy, especially when it is driven by collaboratively-developed goals for students' academic experiences.
My Educational Leadership Beginnings
My first three years coaching teachers were with Suffolk Public Schools (SPS) where I served as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher. For the next five years I served as Suffolk's division-level leader for elementary mathematics. Those eight years changed my life and put me on a path of educational leadership. I honed my skill of unleashing the power and potential of teachers. I appreciate the individuality of each teacher. As a leader I believe it is important to use the aspirations, needs and strengths of educators to develop their capacity to implement programs that promote student agency.
Experienced Professional Learning Designer and Facilitator
I have designed and facilitated professional learning at the school, division, regional, and state levels. I am especially grateful for opportunities to work with the Training and Technical Assistance Centers (TTAC) at ODU and the College of William and Mary. After my work as a lead designer and facilitator of the 2014 Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Mathematics Institutes I received a letter of thanks that included the following statement: "You were invited to be a lead facilitator not only because of your expertise with mathematics content and pedagogy, but also for your expertise in developing and providing quality professional development for teachers and teacher leaders. Thank you for giving of your time to assist all school divisions and teachers in Virginia."
A vital indicator of an inclusive environment is the collective action of educators who engage students in the discovery and development of their interests, gifts and talents.
Welcoming all people into our work and into transformative conversations must be intentional.
Educating everyone on why inclusion matters is a step toward equity.
Diversity is a scenic path along a road that leads to "more" and "better".
Decision-making should include the voices and opinions of students, families, and the community.
Diversity should be pursued and cultivated to create spaces where dignity and respect are the norm.
Diversity is a key lever in increasing access, opportunity, and participation.
Deliberate, specific and substantive actions must be employed to identify and confront inequities that exist as a result of discrimination.
Equity efforts should be centered around fixing the injustices that impede the opportunities for specific groups of people. Those efforts should not be focused on fixing people and groups.
Equity includes advocating for just and fair inclusion and creating conditions in which everyone can participate, prosper and thrive.