After many tribulations, I was finally able to complete the six-day Core Body of Knowledge training. As we unpacked coaching, I had several “AHA moments.” One being, “No one knows everything” – there is room for many perspectives and the more I listen, the more I learn, or as Deb Fitzgerald states “The more I learn the more I need to learn”.
These conversations led me to reflect on my own coaching sessions with the amazing Serene Stevens. She is an unassuming, formidable leader. She has a servant leadership approach, guiding me with her well thought-out approach. Serene is a meditative thinker. She continually asks the difficult questions that lead to the hard conversations and challenge me to dig deeper. She helps me to listen to the things I need to hear as a leader. She is at ease with my natural way of story telling that has a ting of avoidance and a sprinkle of rambling to it. During these times, she continues to smile and power through. She has christened them “Cecilia-isms”. Times when I speak in code, labored almost, unsure of how to just come out and say it, speak my truth. She gets it out of me every time. I leave our sessions with great anticipation for the next one. It is a reciprocal relationship with continuous validation of my skills, a non-judgmental space filled with open- ended questions.
She really pushes me to my true potential. For instance, several people advised me to write for a blog many years ago. I ignored them. As an academician and a writer for years, I felt that was an insult. I was home one lazy Saturday, my heart heavy thinking of my son and all the challenges of leading during a pandemic. I began writing. I realized blogging was different. As I wrote I felt at peace, unapologetically me and very comfortable with my level of transparency. I soon discovered blogging increases the quantity of my writing, spurns my creativity and increases my ability to write about the things I am personally passionate about – thereby enhancing the quality of my writing.
My evolving thoughts about this concept began during those quiet meditations, reflective pauses and prompting moments with Ms. Stevens. Prompting but without cajoling me. This let me know, she heard and respected me. I needed to make my own decision. Somehow, she knew I’d get here.
Serene’s unconventional approach has laid the foundation for some very powerful coaching sessions. She has helped me recognize the importance of writing as a leader and how it is aligned with my leadership style. I have learned, writing is atonement for me. Writing helps me to maintain balance and reflective practices as a director. It helps me set my intentions as a leader. Reflective writing helps me shape my approaches with my teaching team.
Lastly, Serene has coached me through the devastation of a home fire during COVID-19, a health challenge and home schooling my special needs son all while maintaining some semblance of work life balance. Serene has helped me identify strategies for keeping my teaching teams in unison. Most importantly she has been unwavering in her tough questions, a patient thought leader, sister, friend and motivator. She has reignited my creative spirit.
Cecilia Scott-Croff is the Executive Director of the Borough of Manhattan Community College Early Childhood Center.