(This story is written by Nury Crawford, current President of GALAS and author of the book “3,585 miles to be an American Girl”, Nury is originally from Peru and came to the US as a child)
The Georgia Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (GALAS) is our state’s only non-profit educational organization focused on identifying and developing school leaders to improve the educational outcomes of Latino students in Georgia.
Our board and members have a passion and desire to improve the educational experience for Latino children through leadership. The National ALAS organization recognized GALAS as a state affiliate in the fall of 2014.
The GALAS board recognizes that schools nationwide continue to experience rapid growth in the number of students of color that are culturally and linguistically diverse. As diversity grows in rapidly transitioning school districts, demographic gaps that are realized in academic success have become increasingly apparent. The alarming gaps that GALAS aims to reduce are found among ethnic groups in achievement, participation in higher-level courses, discipline referrals, and dropout rates.
At GALAS, we are committed to supporting, engaging and providing professional development to school leaders and aspiring leaders to gain the skills and knowledge base to effectively impact the academic gaps. Our efforts, also move to instill the responsibility for leaders connected to GALAS to model and share best practices and awareness for our colleagues.
Inclusive, encouraging and nonjudgmental dialogue, reflection, and engagement strategies for educators are at the core of what we do, working to develop authentically positive learning communities in an educational environment.
Tara Brown notes in an article, “The Power of Positive Relationships” (Middle Ground Magazine, 2010) that students, especially those from historically marginalized groups, have sensitive antennae for authenticity. The learners’ GALAS targets need to be able to feel the relevancy in the advice that’s given, the lessons to be learned, and the goals they aspire to fulfill. School leaders have the responsibility to seek out cultural building blocks students already possess, to help build a framework for understanding and provide support for their teachers to recognize those building blocks.
Within the next two years, GALAS has set benchmarks which include collaboration with other non-profit organizations that support the Latino community and public education, recruit and develop members, and host/collaborate in multiple conferences and events that support the Latino community and public education. This work is pertinent in the reflection of relevant data detailing the needs. In, The Atlantic, article “Where are all the Principals of Color?” (June 2016), focused on the public-school population and how it continues to grow more diverse, yet the percentage of non-white school leaders has remained relatively stagnant. We understand the need for students to see themselves in not only their teachers and mentors but also the leaders of schools. Moreover, our learners need leaders that understand their needs and creative learning environment that are authentically and effectively designed for their success.
Each of the GALAS board members has a personal connection to the needs of the schools and a strong desire to make schools effective for Latino learners through strong leadership development. As each member on the GALAS board is either a 1st or 2nd generation Latino with a direct impact in the field of education they have a commitment to supporting the educational environment for Latino children. Their personal connection and understanding of the power of education and the necessity of taking time out from their regular educational positions to cultivate all leaders have been the focus of their work.
Our first 2018 event took place in May, hosting our 1st Annual Soiree. The attendees, representatives from area school districts and universities, learned about the GALAS mission and vision, met our mentees for the 2018 mentor cycle and networked over a light lunch.
GALAS will begin their 10-month cycle mentoring program to local leaders in the month of June and July and begin planning their next open event for fall 2018.
To stay connected GALAS encourages all interested to follow them on their social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; you can also email the organization at GeorgiaALAS2018@gmail.com
GALAS Board Members are:
- President Nury Castillo Crawford, Director of Community Mentoring, Gwinnett County Public Schools
- Vice-President Maisha Otway Ed.D, Local school principal, Fulton County Public Schools
- Treasurer Jorge Gomez, Executive Director of Administration and Policy, Gwinnett County Public Schools
- Member-at-Large Martha Alanis, Aspiring leader and teacher, Dekalb County Schools