Name: Thann Ingraham

Current Role: Principal, Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School

Length in Current Role: 7 years

What made you choose your career path: I originally chose this career path in response to a need for African-American males to be represented in early childhood education. I eventually embraced it as a call on my life a servant leader in underserved communities.

Favorite thing about what I get to do everyday: I get to work with a passionate staff of educators who support professional and personal development so that teachers can enter classrooms armed with strategies that give all children the best chance for success.

Person/Place/Thing That Best Exemplifies Me: Interestingly, in fourth grade, I discovered the Fantastic Four. The special power of one of the Four mesmerized me: he could stretch his arms and legs elastically. Even when his enemies try to kill him, he would not be torn apart, he could not be broken.

My Superpower: I wouldn’t call it a superpower but I have the ability to positively influence others. What flows from us directly affects our internal state and inevitably impacts what gets into others around us. A positive influence helps us move closer to our desired results. I make a practice of giving sincere compliments and paying attention to the good that is within every person. Doing so brings out the best in everyone.

Best lesson learned from a mentor or someone I admire: Don’t be too proud to ask for help, particularly from those who are wiser and older.  We are uncomfortable admitting our pain, our inexperience, our incompetence; and, as a result, we sometimes ignore resources we usefully could tap. Looking back at my own life, I am fully aware how fortunate I was that some exceptional people extended a hand.

What I do to make lemonade out of lemons on my toughest days: I love “date nights” and traveling with my wife. We take full advantage of hotel amenities and doing little stuff like talking, discovering neighborhoods/areas, eating too much, laughing, and getting spa treatments. We enjoy our time together.

What education equity means to me: Students having equal access to educational resources like academic and extracurricular programs, strong teaching, facilities, technology, and instructional materials, no matter their race, color, or national origin.

My favorite thing to do to relax and rejuvenate: I enjoy running, skating, swimming and cycling. Whenever I complete an activity, no matter the distance, I take a deep breath knowing that I just did something to improve my health and well-being. There’s nothing like a good cardiovascular work out to achieve that!

The practices/habits that help keep me grounded and maintain perspective when I’m feeling stressed, overworked, or unmotivated are: I keep myself surrounded by people who delight in the truth and make me laugh. They help me to engage life with a certain amount of humor, or at least with a sense of charity that makes me happier and a lot less likely to need blood pressure medication.

Who I turn to for advice or guidance when I need career direction: I have had many mentors and advisors throughout my career. In my current role, I have the good fortune of working side by side with the executive director who is long time colleague and freely and unselfishly offers guidance in career pursuits. This relationship, at its core, guarantees that there is someone who cares, and assures me that I’m not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges.

The advice I’d give to someone trying to find their career sweet spot: Make sure your job function taps into your passions and curiosity; the mission aligns with your own sense of purpose; and your role sets you on a path toward your career goals.

Connect with Thann at tingraham@ecapcs.org.