Women Shaping History 2011
Dr. Randi Herman,
First Vice President, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators
What are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you resolve them?
The challenges that life brings our way often become those life defining moments when the decision that you make turns your life in a different direction. When I entered college, I had planned a career as a professor of English. Well, that was the early 1970's and English professors were driving taxicabs. The jobs were in education-most specifically, special education, so I became a teacher of children with retarded mental development-and loved going to work everyday. One door closes and another one opens. I think I've followed the path that was meant for me.
What are some of the accomplishments you're proudest of?
My daughters, of course, Ilana and Jamie, are my finest accomplishments. Despite the fact that their mother often put other people's children first, they have grown to be exemplary young women. I'd have to say that with the support that my husband has always freely given (for 32 years!) our family continues to be the core from which we all draw our strength to meet those challenges we all face at one time or another.
Who have been the most influential mentors in your life?
I've been fortunate to have had some amazing people in my life. My parents, of course, were the first "life coaches" that I can recall. From them, I learned the value of family; whether it's time to mourn or time to celebrate, family is always there. From my Grandparents, I learned the importance of history; remembering always where you have come from guides you on the path to where you are going. They were proud to become citizens and were awed by the fact that their granddaughter was the first in the family to go to college. My colleagues in education-both active and retired- mentor me on an almost daily basis; they continually impress me with their breadth of knowledge and their continued advocacy for children and their need to be well prepared for life and career
What would you describe as a turning point in your life?
You mean aside from marriage and children? In my professional life, the turning point stands out clearly. One day I was a classroom teacher and the next I had crossed the classroom threshold and become what is now called an "educational leader." I was now in the very intimidating position of being able to participate in discussions that would help to influence the way that things were done at the school level. From there, I moved to a position at a district level, and now I find myself having these discussions from a very different perspective; city and state education policies and practices. As these important conversations unfold, I have to remember to focus on where I come from so that I keep my eyes on the prize-children. That's the litmus test for everything
What are your future goals?
I am passionate about children-and their right to a level educational playing field. Education used to be called the great equalizer, but not all children have equal access to early care and education. I really believe that the achievement gap has its roots in this inequity. I've committed a great deal of time and energy advocating for universal access to quality early care and education that supports the work day and work year; parents will be able to keep their jobs, children will be in a safe place, and, as a bonus, receive quality early childhood education to prepare them to meet the rigorous standards of NYC public schools. Is the goal attainable in my lifetime? Well, like Robert Frost says, "I've miles to go before I sleep."