Rolling Out

Principal Cedric P. Nolen knows how to help students succeed

Principal Cedric P. Nolen knows how to help students succeed
Cedric P. Nolen (Photo credit: Russell Barnes)

The importance of education cannot be overstated. A proper education can be the difference between having a fruitful life and living on the fringes of society. For this reason, the individuals who are responsible for the education of our children should be passionate and see a future where our children are adding value to society. Black students and educators are fighting an uphill battle with the lack of funding and disparity that exists in the system. Rolling out understands the challenges that exist when it comes to the education of Black children. We know the children are our future and it is for this reason that we honor those who are passionate about teaching our children and are passionate about education.

Today, we feature Cedric P. Nolen the Principal of Parkside Community Academy in Chicago. We spoke to Nolen about why he became a principal and how his leadership style is able to effect change. 

Why did you become a principal?

I became a principal to continue on with my mission with making sure that all students were receiving a high-quality public education, so that they all may have significant choices within today’s society.

Why is it important to see more Black faces in a leadership position in our schools?

With more black faces in leadership positions within our schools, it gives our children a sense of hope that someone, in a position of power, understands their struggle, if any, and will perform an effective job in developing them as scholars and as people.

The approach to learning has changed over the years. What would you say have been the biggest changes and how have you adjusted?

The biggest change has to be the incorporation of the common core state standards within teaching and learning. The one adjustment that I made was to effectively provide professional development opportunities for all teachers so that they were fully equipped with what the common core state standards entailed and how to effectively teach them to our scholars. Now, my teachers are well versed in teaching the common core state standards, which now allows them to effectively track academic progression properly and consistently.   

Why would you say there is such a disparity when it comes to affluent suburban schools versus schools located in impoverished urban areas?

For one, the affluent suburban homeowners pay significantly higher property taxes in which clear and significant portions actually go to the schools within those cities or townships. Whereas, the impoverished urban areas are not so lucky…there is a significantly lower number of homeowners and a higher number of abandoned dwellings, which alludes to little to no taxes being paid, resulting in little to no money being invested within those particular schools, yielding to a lack of resources to effectively educate our children. And the cycle continues to perpetuate, negatively.  

Talk about your leadership style. What do you look to accomplish?

As a mixture of a transformational, transactional and participative leader, I am the type of leader that motivates team members and enhance the productivity and efficiency through communication and high visibility; setting predetermined goals together with my team members to acquire buy-in, all while focusing on the big picture and boosting employee morale as they make contributions to the decision-making process. With saying that, I look to consistently lead my team to a level 1+ status as a school, on a yearly basis, and to continuously produce scholars that will be educationally sound and socially equipped to maneuver within tomorrow’s society. Also, I’d like for the teachers and administrators that I have developed or assisted in developing, to become successful instructional leaders, at some point within their career, this would indeed be an accomplishment on my end.

What historic African American figure has inspired you the most and why?

Malcolm X, he was a person that believed in utilizing one way to lead, until he met with other leaders and changed his approach. As we grow within leadership, some known practices might have to change in order to receive a high level of productivity, and at this point, this is my thought process.  

Name three books you have read that have helped you with your profession.

48 Laws of Power, The 4 Agreements and The Five Dysfunctions as a Team.  

If you were the Secretary of Education, what would you do to enhance the opportunity afforded to students across the country?

I would fund all schools, equally and competitively.

What can parents do to assist in the development and success of their children?

First, parents can consistently work with their children, instructionally, at home. secondly, parents can further inquire what the instructional process that’s being implemented, looks like, within the school building, so that they are able to continue and champion the learning process with the scholars while they are at home. Finally, stay involved in their children’s educational process.

Name two things a student can do to become successful?

Stay motivated and be open to learning new and improved things.

What words of encouragement do you have for those who have chosen your profession?

Work smart, stay energized and be patient, as there are no such things as overnight successes. Effectively educating children is a process, so just trust the process.

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