Principal William “Roc” Haith

Fam!!!! Woo!!!! Like seriously, with each interview I am afforded the opportunity to get to know people that I thought I already knew.

This week’s interview was FIRE and right on time for back to school season.  I was granted backstage access to the one person who’s office you NEVER want to see in school, the principal!! William “Roc” Haith is the Principal at Anacostia High School in Washington, DC. I had the honor and privilege of sitting down with him and discussing the importance of male role models in schools and being a student athlete.

William Haith is currently serving his native community as Principal at Anacostia High School.  He has been educating for 15 years, five of which have been spent in leadership.  While both levels of engagement have been rewarding, Haith prefers leadership and embraces innovative and creative leadership.  He has developed himself as a leader who challenges teachers who can stretch their mindset, noting that the priority is to educate the WHOLE child.

He has a strong foothold in transitioning the fixed mindset to the growth mindset.  He finds this to be supremely important, especially in the vein of educating the child as a whole.  This includes the social and emotional learning aspect and trauma informed instruction which speaks to the forces external of the learning environment that have a major impact on the child.  The transition between these two mindsets begins with the first step in Kotter’s 8 Steps of Change Management – Communicate the Urgency.  Haith believes that by presenting the data that creates a sense of urgency he can assist his team members to really get on board with the transition into a renewed mindset.

William Haith actually had no intent to teach or to take on a leadership role within the school system.  His journey began as a football coach at the high school level.  Through interactions with students and the influence that he was having on them, he desired to take it to the next level.  He took a position as a substitute teacher and found himself inspired by the impact he had on students, both on the field and in the classroom.

This inspiration led to a fulfilling career as an educator and as a leader. Haith stressed the importance of putting the student before the athlete. He believes that there is a firm balance between the discipline and commitment in academics and sports, however, performance in the classroom is a prerequisite to performance on the field or court. There is also a level of sacrifice that must be observed. Haith mentioned a quote from “The Great Debaters” (2007) where James Farmer Jr., played by Denzel Whitaker, stated:

“We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do”

William Haith’s athletic background is very diverse. His expertise and experience make him an excellent role model for student athletes and aspiring professional athletes. Following college football, he became an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins. He went on to play football in both the CFL (Canadian Football League) and the AFL (Arena Football League).

William Haith is a natural born leader, no question that he would excel in his position as principal. He is committed to closing the achievement gap at Anacostia High School through comprehensive teamwork.

Haith and I discussed male role models to which he stated that they are not only a necessity in schools for males but also for females as well. He stated that students require a person whom they can trust with vulnerable information in exchange for guidance. Haith knows that he and his faculty have young impressionable eyes on them at all times and they ensure that they always model the same behaviors and courtesies they expect from the students.

Haith is an innovative leader with his sights set on student engagement. I asked him about his ideas for giving students a voice. He is already implementing ways for the students to be a part of the processes at Anacostia High School. He believes that when you collaborate with the students around their needs you will receive more support from the students. He has received tremendous feedback from this approach.

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with William “Roc” Haith! Catch the audio of our interview on She Lifts Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud!!!

Thanks for putting your ears on it!!

Love & Light, Fam!

Poetry by Luki

I had the pleasure of interviewing an amazing and phenomenal young poet, educator and advocate.  Jonte Luki Barret is a Washington, DC native with a passion for poetry and education.

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Luki first fell in love with poetry at a young age when she was introduced to it by her grandmother, who is a published poet.  Words of wisdom from her grandmother, “Take it really serious” provided a venue for her to express herself and to truly be honest with herself.

With her poetry, Luki aspires to travel, taking her art form on tour perform in other cities across the country.  She also aspires to develop her own poetry curriculum that can be taught in schools everywhere.

Luki has been working with children for most, if not all of her life.  Her love for children ignited a fire in her to make it a profession.  She began volunteering at day cares and working in summer camps at a young age.  Her dreams of education have led Luki to her current position of teaching in five schools in DC and one in MD where she teaches the art of poetry.

The students in Luki’s class not only learn about poetry, poets – both contemporary and modern – and different types of poetry but they also gain confidence. Luki guides these kids on how to express yourself and boasts to provide opportunity to express their views put those ideas into rhyme form. Her instruction also assists the students interactions with their peers, self respect and interpersonal respect and all around life lessons.

Rasheed Copeland
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Orville The Poet

Luki couldnt mention her favorite poets without mentioning her favorite poem by them and the effect that it left on her.  This includes Rasheed Copeland’s  “My Mans and Em” and Orville The Poet’s “I Prayed For You”, from which she recited the first line.  A few of the other poetic influences she mentioned include: Karika, Nia Jones, Jay the Jeweler, The Truth, Nuance, Maya Angelou, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and Audre Lorde.

When asked about her strengths and weaknesses, Luki stated that her strength crowd control and stage presence.  She feels that she doesn’t challange herself enough to write about different things.  To build that weakness into a strength she has began to branch out and write on different subjects including politcs and life experiences (other than love).  She also recently wrote a poem in two different languages.  Talk about diversity!!

Luki’s first poem ever recited was also a once in a lietime experience.  In the first grade, her class was visited by Maya Angelou and Luki had the honor of reciting a few stanzas of “Still I Rise” right in front of Maya Angelou!  I think nervous is an understatement!! I was nervous listening to her tell me about it!  Luki was concerned about reading someone else’s work and do it the right way and not stumble.  She described the esperience as nervewrecking.  Over the years, Luki has been able to memorize her poems, but her nervousness has not subsided.  She still gets butterflies and she attributes them to new faces and the worry of not knowing people may interpret what she’s about to say.

Some of the best advice that Luki noted was from a good friend and fellow poet, Lamar Hill.  He reminded her to take her time, gauge the audence and to use the stage well.  This advice has become a staple in her performances.

“It never gets easy to bear your soul.”

~Luki

Settling into her craft, Luki has found herself a lot more confident.  She has not only found poetry to be an outlet and an amazing art form but it has also been an introspective experience.  Luki states that she believes in herself  and what she writes is true to her.  She knows that she doesn’t fit in anyones box.  She feels comfortable with her poetry even though “it never gets easy to bear your soul”.  She says her poems “feel like they’re prayers to God and I happen to be talking to him in front of other people”.  Poetry has been an amazing journey for Luki, as she has learned so much about herself through her poetry.

Make sure you are locked in on Luki’s Place on FB and IG (@lukisplace) to keep up with whats going on in Luki’s world.

Closing out this interview, I had no other choice but to request Luki to recite a poem!  Catch the audio of our interview on She Lifts Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud!!!

Thanks for putting your ears on it!!

Love & Light, Fam!