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Preparing Educators for Leadership
Dr. Sharon H. Porter ’12 embarked on her career journey as an educator out of pure inspiration. In fact, she remembers the exact day in the 4th grade she came to this revelation.
“I was sitting on the carpet while Ms. Mullet read Judy Blume’s Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing,” she says. The intentional storytelling and elaborate voices her teacher gave to the main characters drew her in like never before. “It was right then I knew I wanted to be a 4th grade teacher, just like her.”
As a young African American girl in a predominantly white community, she recalls feeling protected and genuinely cared for in her educational experience. Now, the Walden Educational Specialist Educational Administration and Leadership graduate is paying it forward in her thriving career and entrepreneurial efforts.
“The social impact that Walden encourages and inspires you to have has been a driving factor in my endeavors,” she says. She also gives credit to Walden’s EdS program for helping her become a recognized expert in her field. To give back to Walden for opening these spaces, Dr. Porter is a Walden Alumni Ambassador. She has spoken on many stages and enjoys producing podcasts and webinars to engage with current students.
Dr. Porter is also a lifelong learner. Prior to enrolling in Walden’s EdS program, Porter received a Post Master’s Grad Certificate in Education Administration and Supervision from The Johns Hopkins University. Most recently, she received a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Howard University. Today, she’s an accomplished principal, author, and founding editor-in-chief of Vision & Purpose, a thriving lifestyle magazine.
Dr. Porter spent over a decade as a teacher and instructional coordinator before realizing she wanted more out of her career. She received her first administrative shot, securing an assistant principal position at an elementary school in Maryland. When it came time to think about becoming a principal, she recalls feeling underprepared.
“I listened very closely every time we had a guest speaker, specifically to the things they had accomplished. I concluded that I needed to acquire a more diverse skill set and add to my toolkit,” Dr. Porter says. “I knew I didn’t want to be a principal at that moment; I wanted to gather some experience outside of the schoolhouse.”
Porter began applying to central office positions. She spent the next four years as a test development specialist and working closely with one of the assistant superintendents. After these experiences she decided she was finally ready to become a principal.
After several years as a middle school and charter school principal in Maryland and North Carolina, Dr. Porter accepted an opportunity to become a leadership development coach for a Maryland district. She loved the experience so much that she decided to do it on her own.
“I felt there was no concerted effort to help build the capacity of a system’s principals. I didn’t have that mentoring or coaching aspect to help me become ready,” Dr. Porter says. “I wanted to make it my mission to develop and uplift the voices of new educational leaders.”
From Leadership to Development
Dr. Porter’s desire to help others led her to establish the Principal Leadership Academy and New Principal Roundtable. The academy is a development program for assistant principals who aspire to move up in the ranks. She developed the roundtable as a forum to help her academy graduates continue to grow, connect, and network as new principals.
In addition to mentoring and uplifting educational leaders, Dr. Porter is a pillar in her community. She is a founding partner of The What Now Movement, an entrepreneurial platform that encourages idea-sharing among business owners and prepares them with resources to weather life’s storms. Dr. Porter also serves as vice president of the International Association of Women’s Waldorf Chapter, sits on the Board of Advisors for Envision Lead Grow, and is the national secretary for Black Women Education Leaders.
“Everything I do is in service of helping someone else,” Dr. Porter concludes. “The premise behind these programs is to lean on our learning and our pitfalls to help the next person coming in.”
So that more students could have access to inspiring reading experiences, Walden donated a mini community library last year to the school where Dr. Porter is principal.
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