Myron Long: Native son destroys the prison pipeline one DC student at a time
Name: Myron Long
Current role: Principal, E.L. Haynes PCS Middle School
Length in current role: 4 years
Previous roles in education or other sectors: Teacher, Grade Level Chair, Saturday School Principal, Resident Principal, Assistant Principal and Principal
Why I chose my career path: I am a native son of Washington DC. I was born and raised in the Brightwood neighborhood in NW and am a product of DC Public Schools. I wanted to become a school leader for one purpose: to destroy the school to prison pipeline. As a Washingtonian, I have seen first hand what happens when young men of color get caught in the “neighborhood life”. Too many young men of color have been indoctrinated with an inauthentic concept of manhood and masculinity that suggests manliness means being hyper-physical, non-emotional, detached, and constantly in control. Many boys grow up believing conflict resolution through physical aggression is preferable to showing emotion. This type of masculinity, fueled by systemic inequity, is a recipe for disaster in urban communities. When this dynamic plays out in schools, it inevitably contributes to the pipeline to prison.
Favorite thing about what I get to do everyday: I get to show a middle school student, through my actions, that they are loved unconditionally and that I believe in their infinite capacity to achieve their dreams, attend the college of their choice and change the world.
Person/Place/Thing That Best Exemplifies Me: DC! Because DC is complex, it’s raw and filtered, it’s a dream for some and nightmare for others, it’s authentic and loving and it’s music speaks to the soul.
My Superpower: My superpower is my authentic connection to the work of creating change within schools coupled with my undying belief in children and the victory of our struggle.
Best lesson learned from a mentor or someone I admire: The best lesson that I learned was actually from a song called Heathen by Bob Marley. It taught me that the tougher the battle, the sweeter the victory!
What I do to make lemonade out of lemons on my toughest days: I say to myself, if I truly believe in a growth mindset; If i truly believe that the brain can grow; then I must apply that same steadfast belief that adults and students, too, can grow their skill and their will with feedback and support that is grounded in love.
What education equity means to me: Educational equity means that we do school differently. Imagine a world where students aren’t organized by grade levels. Imagine a world where school schedules aren’t organized by the traditional content categories. Imagine a world where every student was able to turn their passion into a course of study that allowed them to demonstrate mastery in different ways. Imagine a world where the curriculum reflects the lived experiences of students and students get an opportunity to construct and deconstruct the world in every classroom. Imagine a world where teachers openly talk about race across difference without fear and teachers take an active political stance on social issues. Imagine a world where school doesn’t happen in a building it happens in the world. To me, that is educational equity.
My favorite thing to do to relax and rejuvenate: Well, my fiance is also a school leader. We jokingly call ourselves the Beyonce and Jay Z of the teaching game :). When the work gets tough, we make southern comfort food!
The practices/habits that help keep me grounded and maintain perspective when I’m feeling stressed, overworked, or unmotivated are: One, close my eyes and visualize a student who sums up why I do this work of teaching as social justice. Two, close my eyes and remember that my ancestral heritage was born out of struggle and resistance.
Who I turn to for advice or guidance when I need career direction: My fiance, Aliesha Maye, my mother Gloria Long and my mentors: Towana Pierre-Floyd, Shawn Hardnett and Michelle Molitor.
The advice I’d give to someone trying to find their career sweet spot: To find your sweet spot, think about the why behind your work. Close your eyes and ask yourself: When the world writes my story what will they say I believed in and does my career reflect my deepest beliefs?That’s your sweet spot!
Learn more about Myron’s work at www.elhaynes.org and connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.