For Black History Month, I created a series showcasing our everyday heroes, who work tirelessly day in and day out to give back to their community. The work that they do does not require recognition. The individuals were selected based on their dedication and positive community efforts. The next person being recognized this month is Lisa Norwood.
According to research conducted by the University of Connecticut, only twenty percent of school administrators were people of color and only fifty percent were women, despite women representing almost eighty percent of teachers. The number of black female principals is even harder to assess, though research suggests they represent a smaller proportion of black principals than do their male counterparts (https://education.uconn.edu/).
Lisa Norwood is a part of that smaller portion. There is an estimate of nine percent of principals across the United States who are black.
Lisa has been in education for twenty years. She started her career teaching first grade and went on to teach second, third, sixth, and seventh grade over seven years, before becoming a Learning Intervention Specialist.
She later became a Staff Development Coach and was recommended for the iLEADAZ Aspiring Principal Program at Arizona State University. With this, she was awarded a full scholarship and completed her Master’s degree in Educational Supervision and Administration. She has been a principal in Arizona for seven years.
Norwood is currently the Principal of Wilson Primary School in Phoenix, AZ. Wilson Primary school is in the heart of Phoenix, AZ and is considered a Title 1 School. This means over eighty-five percent of the students in this school receive free or reduced lunch due to their family’s income status.
When asked why she chose to work in a Title 1 school, Norwood stated, “I believe this is where God purposed me to be. I was one of those kids once upon a time and I feel like it is my purpose in life to serve those communities”.
Norwood motivates her students to look past their circumstances. “I often share my personal story with my students. I want them to know they can make it in spite of their current situation”.
Not only does she motivate her students to be their best, but she also encourages her teachers. ” I share my story with my teachers because I want them to know I used to be one of the students they are teaching, but I will say that I love interacting with and supporting my teachers. I understand their role and how important they are to our school”.
Being raised in a similar community she works in, Norwood understands first hand the challenges her students face.
“One of the biggest challenges is knowing most of our students come from environments that we as a school cannot control. It could be homelessness, hunger, lack of money for necessities like electricity, water, furniture, clothing, incarceration, etc. We still have to try and provide the best education for our students in these conditions”.
“As a principal, I have always believed that the school is the hub of the community. We should be providing resources to not only help our students but helping our families. Most of them are in survival mode and the more we can support them, the better life will be for our students when they leave us at the end of every day”.
Norwood is making gains in her community with the support of the parents and community sponsors. In spite of her challenges, she continues to go strong and stay motivated.
“I am motivated by waking up each day and wanting to be better than I was the previous day. Every day we wake up, God is saying I am not done with you yet. Go forth and be fruitful”.
We appreciate you Lisa Norwood for all that you do in educating our next generation. You are our Everyday Hero.