Dr. Khalil Graham is an experienced Education leader with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. A visionary leader that creates a safe and effective learning-focused environment for students to enrich their individual growth, enrichment, and goals of life-long learning, setting them up for success in their collegiate journey and life thereafter. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Research, Event Planning, Fundraising, and Program Evaluation. Strong entrepreneurship professional with a Doctorate focused in Educational Leadership and Administration, General from Univ. of Kentucky.

Integrating love and excellence into the school experience

by Dr. Khalil Graham

Show Highlights

  • What does it mean to be a futurist in education? 
  • Integrate excellence and create environments that invest in others.
  • Changemakers who know how to veer. 
  • Excellence defined and steps that lead you there personally and professionally. 
  • Separate excellence and perfection with these principles. 
  • Create a hunger for a growth mindset in your learning community.
  • Operating mechanisms you need to solidify powerful teams into the systems that you already have.
  • How to build a student centered critical thinking and advocacy centered environment.
  • A metrics to evaluate if your habits match your goals.
Dr. Khalil Graham: Integrating love and excellence into the school experience

“Every great education institution should be grounded in love, equity, and excellence.” 

– Dr. Khalil Graham

Full Transcript Available Here

Daniel (00:02):

I have a sister. She is younger than me in many ways, probably a lot more intelligent and responsible, all the good qualities. I am funny. I’m funnier for sure. A better storyteller. I look good too. I’m the more attractive of the two, but that’s not the point. The point is this, if she was really struggling and if our mom wasn’t in the picture and if it was our grandma taking care of us, both. Grandma was struggling and going through some other stuff, would I have it within me to adapt and be the guardian of my younger sister? That’s really the story of today’s guest, Dr. Khalil Graham and he ended up adopting his younger brother to help give him structure, to pull out the potential that Khalil saw in his younger brother and give him a chance, right. To open doors, give them a pathway to success. I can’t imagine doing that while still in school. It’s a tremendous story. You’re going to hear much more about what makes Dr. Graham amazing. Not only that, we’re going to dig into the topics of love and excellence. You’ll for sure want to be here for every minute of the show. Hey, it’s Daniel. Welcome to the Better Leaders, Better schools Podcast, a show for Ruckus Makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. We’ll be right back after these messages from our show sponsors.

Daniel (01:57):

Learn how to develop your skills, to identify challenges, incorporate, and support innovation and plan and drive school improvement in leading schools, strategy and innovation. A certificate in school management and leadership course from Harvard leading schools, strategy and innovation runs from February 2nd to March 2nd, 2020. To apply by January 21st BetterLeadersBetterSchools.com/Harvard. During COVID every teacher is a new teacher. That’s why innovative school leaders are turning to TeachFX whose virtual PD is equipping thousands of teachers with the skills they need to create engaging equations in rigorous virtual or blended classes to learn more about TeachFX and get a special offer visit TeachFX. Com/BLBS. That’s teachfx.Com/BLBS. All students have an opportunity to succeed with Organized Binder, who equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning. Whether that’s in a distance hybrid or traditional educational setting, learn [email protected].

Daniel (03:14):

Dr. Khalil Graham currently serves as the executive director of Liberty Steam Charter Schools, and he has extensive experience in successfully opening three charter schools. Dr. Graham has spent much of his career in high-performing charter networks as both a teacher and a leader leading at yes, prep idea, public schools and friendship charter schools. As a founding college prep principal, his district was awarded the 2016 district broad prize as the most outstanding charter school network in the country. In the leadership of over 500 students, he was also awarded 10 tea distinctions throughout his 15 year leadership career in Dr. [inaudible] Graham. Welcome

Dr. Khalil (04:00):

To this show. Thank you.

Daniel (04:03):

You have a very interesting story where you actually adopted your brother when he was in middle school. Would you take us to that moment?

Dr. Khalil (04:14):

Yes. In looking at that moment of my life, it was really transformational for me as a person, as well as me as an educator in kind of laying that foundation vision for where I wanted to find value not in my personal life, but in my work. My grandmother who raised us, had just recently passed. My family was at a moment where we’re really trying to figure out for my youngest brother, who was just finishing up elementary school, what would be the next step for his support? I was in my first year of my doctoral program at the University of Kentucky and decided that in order for me to best support him, I would actually take on the responsibility of being his guardian and making his health and education choices. I did that in part because I know how hard it is growing up in inner city, New York, and some of the challenges that he might face and giving him a different opportunity and a different viewpoint of life outside of New York City, alongside me in a more organized structure. I thought it would be helpful for him personally and give him the best chance to be successful in life on the education side, knowing that that was where my future was going career wise. I was pursuing my doctorate in education leadership wanting to be an advocate for him, especially as a special needs student, to be able to get the best access he could and the best advocacy he could.

Dr. Khalil (05:42):

It really formatted my passion for working for the underdog being that Ruckus Maker, who really thinks about what we can do to make change for the people who don’t naturally have that advantage. To create an equitable outcome for all people. I had to learn that through my own advocacy with my younger brother. Learning to be a parent on the fly while I was a grad school student and learning how to still be an adult in many ways was a challenge. He grew up with me in lots of different ways. Looking back, I think it’s been really profound in helping me to develop leadership and really a self-awareness as a man and as a human being, as well as, as I look at my role as an educational leader and how do I create environments that can support people like my younger brother.

Daniel (06:32):

That’s really a brilliant story. There’s so much to dig into, like you said, the self-awareness piece regarding yourself, you talked about leadership, you talked about education, amazing, amazing story. The curious question I’d love to pose to you is as you were growing up, you said you were growing up with him, what was something that sustained you or helped you navigate these new waters?

Dr. Khalil (07:02):

I think two things come to mind for me. One is a tremendous sense of love and duty for my young brother, for a family member, for somebody who I wanted to see be successful. I knew that I could play a part in influencing his success, whether it’s through providing resources and experiences, guidance, or just being a support to listen as he was growing and experiencing his own life journey. I think that part was something that really made me feel a passion towards what that experience would be like. I think the other part is leveraging my own education experience and my dropping out of high school, being homeless in New York City, and kind of having to find my own way. Thinking about one of the main lessons I learned is having those special people in your life who can be Changemakers to support you, maybe veering from the wrong path to the right path is important.

Dr. Khalil (07:58):

And you never know who those people will be. If I could be that type of person for him, with my understanding and kind of foresight of where I was going, based on where I’d been, and maybe sharing some of that to guide his journey, I did want to make that a priority as well. It was a sacrifice and it’s one that I would make a hundred times over, but I believe that in every person’s life, they need that type of advocate that can help them to kind of navigate in a way that sets them up for success short and long-term right.

Daniel (08:28):

Those lived experiences you had and then the context of helping your brother, it sounds like that’s what helps you put on that underdogs advocate uniform, if you will or something like that. It comes from your history, you mentioned dropping out of high school and experiencing homelessness and here you are, you’re very successful Dr. Graham. You’ve done it and I’m just curious, there’s a gap from those challenging times to the success you’ve achieved. Obviously it’s not necessarily a very linear and easy path from those struggles to Dr. Graham, but I’m curious, was there a moment that helped you figure it out? To believe what was possible within yourself, or I could be completely off. Like maybe you never doubted that kind of thing. It was just trusting the process, getting the right people around you or whatever, it’s your story, not mine. I’m curious how that worked out for you?

Dr. Khalil (09:39):

There are three people who come to mind who really, I think, steered my life in a direction where it would set me up for the type of impact that I’m hopefully having now, but continue to strive to have in my career. I think about Ms. Kennedy, my third grade teacher who went in with my grandmother was struggling with emotional stress and wasn’t necessarily able to support me at the level that I wanted to. I actually was the reader of the month in her classroom in Ms. Kennedy’s classroom. Part of that was you had to get your signatures for your reading. I used to read all night, I could be the reader of the month and get the pizza party. I actually ordered my own signature and I would do my book report, but my grandmother wasn’t actually up when I would finish reading.

Dr. Khalil (10:28):

When I would go to school in the morning. One day Ms. Kennedy probably realized that that signature looks a lot like Khalil’s handwriting in class. She pulled me to the side. When she pulled me to the side, I immediately started crying and told her, I read every book and I could tell her every page because I had read those books and she had the opportunity to either discipline me or to look and see more in me. She called a meeting with my grandmother. When she had that meeting, I thought I was going to get disciplined or in trouble. She actually gave my grandmother a pamphlet for a program called Prep for Prep, which took talented inner city students and gave them a chance to go to private school. This was a program that started in fifth grade going into sixth, and I’m in third grade.

Dr. Khalil (11:13):

She worked with my grandmother for two years on that application so that I would have access to the type of educational environment that met my capacity and my potential. That person showed me the power of teachers and the power of people who’ve seen in you, something you might not see in yourself. I think about Mr. Joseph, who was a counselor in that Prep for Prep program. When I dropped out of the $45,000 a year independent school. I was going to New York City and was living on the subway, they actually came and found me. Found me in a park in New York City that wasn’t too far away from that office. I didn’t really have too many places to go. I still think about how he found me and the efforts that he put in that he didn’t have to, but talking to me and re orienting me to what my purpose in life could be based on the experiences I had already been through with my parents. How I had grown up and what my education could prepare me for.

Dr. Khalil (12:14):

And that person taking that extra time was another change maker in my world and steering me in the path back into education, back into going to college. As I went through my collegiate experience, Dr. Wayne Lewis was my advisor while I was in graduate school and really set the tone for me as an education leader on the expectation of what does it mean to be excellent in your work? Knowing that I went to University of Kentucky as the youngest doctoral student they had ever had in the school of education. I was 24 years old going into that program. I was still figuring out many parts of being an adult as well as being a scholar and thinking about all of those pieces. He looked at me and really pushed me to look past age, to look past experience and to look towards excellence, which has been a guiding star for me throughout my career, and really helped me as I’ve gotten into new experiences where I can have greater impact and reorient myself in the teams. I’ve been able to support people regardless of backgrounds, regardless of different things, people are bringing it to the table. How do we have a context of what excellence looks like in our work and how do we strive towards that every day with steps that lead us there.

Daniel (13:28):

Beautiful. To reflect for you, but also for the Ruckus Maker, listening I’m hearing in Ms. Kennedy and Mr. Ialla seeing purpose and potential in your life and calling that out and then Dr. Lewis similarly, but then framing that around this idea of excellence, which we’ll dig into in a second. The other thing now, the listener can’t see, because we’re recording video, but they’re listening to audio. Khalil’s face lit up when he started talking about these folks in his life just so the Ruckus Maker knows the impact that you have on people’s lives is tremendous for better or worse. These folks who poured into you saw your potential, Mr. Ialla was going above and beyond to find you in a park, wow, what an incredible deposit to your life. Now that is having so much fruit the ripple effect is very, very real in how you show up in your presence as a leader. I just want to honor those folks and honor you Khalil, you all are honorary Ruckus Makers, for sure. Thank you. You were talking about Dr. Lewis and this idea of excellence, and I know that’s something that’s really important to you. How do you define excellence?

Dr. Khalil (14:52):

That’s a great question. One of the things foundationally that I always start with is that there has to be a separation of excellence and perfection because so many people see them as the same to be excellent. You have to be perfect. When in reality, the healthiest both in mind, body and in focus of your work is to see excellence has a very specific set of actions and habits and perfection as something that you can look at aspirationally of like, Hey, I want to do my very best. That would lead to these outcomes, but in practice and habit, we’re building things that are very tangible and functional. Part of the growth experience is that you’re allowed to make mistakes and that we encourage and celebrate those as learning experiences. For me, excellence is grounded in two principles. Number one are people giving tremendous effort with the priorities and tasks that are assigned with them, whatever they’re doing, whether it’s in their personal life and their professional life, are they giving tremendous effort in those things?

Dr. Khalil (15:53):

The second principle is, are you grounding yourself as a growth minded person? When I look at the people who’ve been successful in both my career and then the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside as well as in my personal life, people that I admire and respect, they are not people who have done everything perfectly, but they are people who have a tremendous mindset around growth. What can I learn to be better? They have a hunger for that, knowing that feedback is a part of that, knowing that self exploration and understanding your own identity as a part of that. Those are huge avenues that I feel can really grow you in the right direction. The other piece is there are people who give tremendous effort, who try and who align their effort, not just to do a lot of things, but to do the right thing. And really pushing, are you clear on not only what the goal is, but what are the priorities of the key habits that we want to build to lead to that goal and excellence happens when you consistently do those things and you’re finding them to get better each and every day.

Daniel (16:56):

Yeah. Consistency is a key proponent of that. I love that definition of excellence. If I boiled it down from what you said, that effort, based on the task at hand and then framework. This position is towards a growth mindset and learning from the mistakes and the successes and not getting better. You met Gene, he was on a call when we all first talked in the pre-chat. I’m bringing him into this conversation just because you brought feedback up in regards to the growth mindset. Two books I’ll recommend to you and all the Ruckus Makers listening. If you haven’t read them yet, a Radical Candor, which Jean absolutely loves it’s by Jean Sky. That’s more about giving the feedback, but there’s a great book called, Tanks for the feedback, byDouglas Stone.

Daniel (17:48):

I believe Sheila Heena I want to say, and that’s about receiving it, right. Both of those combined together help you deliver even higher levels of feedback. Very cool. I think what I’d like to do here is pause just for a moment, or a message from our sponsors. When we come back, I want to talk more about excellence, how we integrate that into our environments and something that you also believe too, which there I say can be provocative. How do we build environments built on love? Learn how to successfully drive school change and help your diverse stakeholders, establish priorities and improve practice in leading change, a certificate in school management and leadership course from Harvard. Topics include adaptive leadership, culture equity, and more leading change runs from February 2nd to March 2nd, 2020. Apply by January 21st enroll by January 27th, get started at betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard.

Daniel (18:56):

That’s betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard. Better Leaders, Better Schools is brought to you by school leaders like principal Katerra’s using TeachFX. Special populations benefit the most from verbally engaging in class, but get far fewer opportunities to do so than their peers, especially in virtual classes. Teachfx measures verbal engagement automatically in virtual or in-person classes to help schools and teachers address these issues of equity during COVID. Learn more and get a special offer from Better Leaders Better Schools, listeners at teachfx.com/BLBS. That’s TeachFX.Com/BLBS.. Today’s show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized Binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success. During these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings, organized binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed, whether at home or in the classroom. Learn more at organizedbinder.com. We’re back with Dr. Khalil Graham, and we’ve heard his amazing story where he’s been where he’s going. We were just digging into this idea of excellence. Now I want to talk about how you integrate excellence and how do you create environments that are built on love and excellence

Dr. Khalil (20:33):

At something that is a, it’s a journey for me professionally and knowing that each opportunity is going to have a different pathway towards leading through creating that environment who was involved, what are the opportunities et cetera. There’s some different considerations. I think foundationally, you have to be driven by understanding people and knowing that most, if not all organizations, especially education-based organizations are trying to achieve results through people. Understanding the humanity that comes with that. When I talk about love, it’s not the intimate portion that people may consider, but it’s being very realistic around are you self-aware with who you are, how your energy works, what things you bring to the table and willing to express that to the people you work around and are you also willing to invest in others? And that can be in time that can be in listening and being a support.

Dr. Khalil (21:34):

That can also be in celebrating them. Are we creating an environment where people as adults and kids feel appreciated and feel inspired to continue to grow within the work with the organization towards our mission? I think that that foundationally is where love is. Combining that with that sense of excellence, of being clear on what’s the north star for your organization, what does that mission alignment look like for all of the respective people who are a part of that mission, and how do we cascade that message both internally to our scholars that we served and their families to all the people support us. And then externally to people who want to learn more about us so that it is clear who we are, where we’re going and how each piece fits there. A big part of my role is making sure that at the high strategic level, that those things are clear and that they make sense as we go down from leadership to people who are on the ground, really making the change for our young people every day and then to our supporters and trying to make sure that that messaging has a level of not only clarity, but also is effective in talking about how those things tie together.

Dr. Khalil (22:41):

How does love and having a great place for people to come in and work and grow, align with the excellence of people? Now being clear on what the mission is and their ability to execute the mission and their priorities, and having a system that allows them to grow and develop within that.

Daniel (22:58):

One of the podcast listeners, I’ll just give her first name. Lisa is a superintendent and she sent me a message today talking about building a culture, which I imagine is somewhat like yours. What’s relevant to our conversation? She says, people drive past districts that are offering higher salaries to work for her within her district, because they feel that connection, they feel seen, and heard. Their successes are celebrated, they’re supported when they fall down and it’s a happy and fun environment to work in. What you’re talking about makes a lot of sense from a high level. I think the Ruckus Maker gets it too. Do you mind sharing how the sausage is made so to speak, but what are some practical things like, can you bring us to a moment when you are celebrating someone or the self-awareness piece whatever, but can you make it real for us? Like how does [inaudible]

Dr. Khalil (23:59):

I’m grounded in my leadership,in something called operating mechanisms. I heard a great quote from Urban Meyer, who I respect as a leader because he probably developed football players and he knows a great coach, but he also was somebody who thought about leadership as an art. And that was something I really respected as I learn more about him and read a book that he wrote called Above the Line, which is something I try to ground our team in is do we have above the line behaviors every day and know that that kind of moves us in a direction where we’re able to make change is he talked about average leaders having folks and then good leaders having a plan, an exceptional leaders, having a system. Really pushing with our goals here to say, do we have systems that will live and grow as we develop, but also that will sustain excellence and sustained wealth.

Dr. Khalil (25:03):

The operating mechanisms are the heart of many of those systems and that is the core way that we interact that allow us to be clear on our mission, but also to grow and appreciate one another. For me, the three key ones that you would see in a week. I’m at the tool level at the network level even with our teachers as they’re interacting with kids, we want to have a daily huddle, which is a place to make sure alignment is happening each day. It can be a quick meeting between people. It can also be a longer meeting depending on what kind of teams you have, but a daily way to make sure you come to get together a weekly check-in where you’re able to align with what are the goals that you have for this upcoming week and how have they been going and what support do you need to continue in those goals?

Dr. Khalil (25:52):

A weekly tactical meeting, which is a place for your whole team to come together every week and align on where things have gone for the team, what has been successful in terms of success and what are areas that you want to develop? Those areas are where we want to build in that appreciation for one another. Are we celebrating wins? Are we finding ways to give feedback to one another, to grow each other in the work that we have? If there are priority areas that a person has concerns about, do we have a structured place in time where those things can grow and get better? That’s something that I think is really powerful in being able to build in the ways that you appreciate your team to build into the systems that you already have. They might not look exactly like ours, but the systems you have when you’re actually embracing who is the employee of the month, who might be the person that you celebrate for a special thing they did. And give them a chance to share that with the team, just being really thoughtful about building it into the systems, you already have to enhance them and make it a place where people feel valued, but you still are having a structure that aligns.

Daniel (26:57):

I never heard of the term operating mechanisms. Thanks for that. And then the urban Myers story, if I heard you correct. The average has the quote, the average leader has a quote, a good leader has a plan. The exceptional leaders have a system. Did I get that correct? Yes. Very good. Very good. I am definitely fascinated in investing a lot in systems these days, as we scale how we show up and serve school leaders. For the Ruckus Maker, listening, why systems level thinking is where the highest effective leaders operate, because then it’s not all about you. You’re not always going to be within that organization. Real leaders build other leaders too. Once you have that system designed, it almost works autonomously. I know they have people who have to put their effort into it and that kind of thing, but it can exist. You’re not the bottleneck is what I’m trying to say. Right? I love telling people that the leader is the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge within any, any organization. Khalil, I know you all about growth mindset and from our pre-chat, I wrote down that there’s an importance of action and a focus on what you’ve learned versus the grade. Can you unpack that a little bit for us to

Dr. Khalil (28:15):

Absolutely. Appreciating the journey and being very thoughtful, what habits are you building? All data grades, performance, evaluations test scores, they are all feedback and they’re at the most elementary level. Their outcomes that you will receive. Once you put the pen to paper and fill out the test, the grade is an outcome. The test itself is an event. It’s something that’s happened that you probably can’t change. You have to take that test. You have to go through that performance review. There’s an event and there’s an outcome in the middle is your response. If you think about the event, plus the response, that’s going to lead to the outcome, that you won’t have an effect on because it’s all about your response. Being really thoughtful at the student level, how do we teach our young people to respond to things that are happening to them, whether that person lives at home, whether it’s in school when I didn’t get a math problem.

Dr. Khalil (29:16):

But teaching them that through modeling at every level of the organization of, we really want to be really critical of our responses to events, how are things happening and how are we seeing them and experiencing them and what are we learning from them to still continue to grow us towards the mission that we have for serving young people. Being really thoughtful and also disciplined in making that a continuing part of the conversation is something that I’m working on and continuing to grow, but pushing people past the actual grade or the, the goal to thinking about what the goal makes you do, what habits does it build? Because one thing that consistently you hear in leadership studies is that if your habits don’t match your goals, you need to either change your habits to change your goals. And so being really thoughtful here that we have consistent goals in education, whether it’s student proficiency, whether it’s something more tangible, like having hired buildings or engagement there’s metrics that people can evaluate.

Dr. Khalil (30:17):

At the end of the day, the metrics are outcomes there at the end. What happens every day are the habits and the behaviors that you live and being really thoughtful about how those things develop and what is the self-awareness we have as teams, as well as, as individuals around the building of those habits is something that I want to make sure that I continue to grow in our organization. I would encourage anybody as they’re thinking about making their teams better, their schools better,to really be thoughtful about how you talk about those things, how you celebrate those things in terms of people’s growth and awareness of the experiences they have towards reaching goals and what habits to build. .

Daniel (30:52):

That’s great. I appreciate how you broke that down for us. You consider yourself a futurist in education. What’s that all about? What does that mean?

Dr. Khalil (31:01):

Yes. I am a believer that as a Ruckus Maker you gotta be really thinking about not where school is, but where it needs to go to support kids to the world that they’re going in. The world that’s continuing to evolve. The areas that I look at is how do we build critical thinking and advocacy that is student centered and not teacher centered environments or adult centered environments and thinking, what does that look like at the elementary level, all the way up through the high school and the higher education level, and knowing that to be successful in our world, it’s not a singular set of skills that you need, but it’s having a very conceptual way of thinking about things and understanding as things come to you, how to adapt to more technical problems and issues that you might see as well as more adaptive problems and issues you might see.

Dr. Khalil (31:59):

Really pushing to have that be a part of the learning environment because standards change, tests change, teaching styles change, but what doesn’t change is the world that we are asking kids to go into is ever evolving. It’s pushing them more than having a singular set of skills to be able to be creative in whatever workflow that they’re held responsible for in their communities and work in their families. How do we build that mindset? It’s important for me and thinking about how we use project-based learning to support that, how do we use student ownership on certain policies and aspects of their school experience to own that? Knowing that at the end of the day, if we build their ability to think, and really understand their school experience and be able to articulate that that’s going to drive schools to meet the needs of kids, where they are at the time that they are, but also giving them a framework that they can leverage as they leave those schools and go into the world and be able to think about really complex issues that they either had personally, or that they’re dealing with in some aspect of their life or career in a way that’s going to let them be problem solvers and change makers.

Daniel (33:11):

I don’t wanna do it injustice by calling it simple, but the idea of how students respond to the grades or the outcomes of these events is a skill that transfers to life and can be a success in life. There’s going to be things that happen all the time. It’s about owning, as you mentioned, the self-awareness piece, the presence like how you respond and all of that. Thank you for talking a bit about being a futurist. These last two questions I ask all the guests, cannot wait to hear how you’re going to answer them. If you could put one message across all school marquees around the world for a single day, what would your message read?

Dr. Khalil (33:59):

Great question. I’ve thought about this a lot. I would say every school on the marquee should say, “At this school, every young person and adult gets exactly what they need and deserve. We believe in equity.”

Daniel (34:21):

That’s a wonderful promise to make to the community. Khalil, I you’re building a school from the ground up. You’re not limited by any resources, you’re only limited by your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be your top three priorities?

Dr. Khalil (34:38):

I’m currently practicing this as we open schools here in South Carolina,with the network that I’m in, y three priorities would be number one, creating a student centered experience, both instructionally as well as their social and cultural experience and knowing what staff needs to be a part of that was strategic planning needs to be a part of that and being really clear around what would the student experience look like from the day, the time they walked in the door all the way out to when they’re graduating from their respective school and knowing that ownership should be a part of how we evaluate their success, how much did they get to own their experience as a part as to how much mastery they get in science or math or ELA. I would really hone in on making something that’s crystal clear for the young person, a guide, a playbook of sorts so that they have that their parents have that.

Dr. Khalil (35:34):

They would feel really supported all the way through. I think in terms of love, I would love to have a coordinator of organizational health on every campus. And this person’s job is to really sit and listen specifically to the needs of the campus and ensure that we are pushing to be a great place to work for every adult and a great place to learn for every scholar. That would be a person whose job is to make sure in the systems that we have in the systems we need to develop. We are putting people first because humans are walking into that building. When things happen in the local community, when there are issues nationally that we need to think about, and when there are ways that we want to celebrate our young people or adults, this is a person who is owning and making sure that that happens.

Dr. Khalil (36:24):

It is a critical part of the success of the school that this person is owning that stream. I’d love to have that on every campus. It really has to be a person that was a leader and seen as a critical part of the campus’s success. The last thing I would want to have at every campus is I would love to have every child have access to 1 million words worth of books, regardless of their age group, knowing that it looks different at every campus and every size,when you’re talking about that. But I think there’s a power in teaching kids to be critical thinkers through the use of texts and whether it’s teaching kindergarten or how to read. They’re reading with their teachers or teaching a high schooler, who’s a junior senior, how to read texts and compare with things going on contemporarily in that time or in our current time, as well as themes that they see across certain pieces of literature and being able to have them think in context currently and outside their context, so that we’re building that muscle of being thoughtful to their own experience and how it relates to it.

Dr. Khalil (37:29):

Doesn’t relate to others’ experience so that they can have that level of self-awareness. Knowing that if we can get kids to read a million words a year, when they go into the world, I believe that they’ll have a level of awareness and understanding to be the type of change makers that they’re going to need to be for their communities and for the work that they’ll be doing as professionals. If those three things can happen, I really feel like the schools that I would be a part of would meet my goal and expectation for changing kids’ lives everyday they walk through the door.

Daniel (38:00):

Absolutely. We don’t have a time for it on the show, but what book would be in your million words? A reading plan for yourself would be super interesting. I resonated with everything you said, but with the million words I had nine books delivered to the house yesterday. I cannot wait to dig in. Thank you for sharing that. Dr. Khalil Graham,thank you so much for being my guest today on the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast. We covered a lot of ground, what’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Dr. Khalil (38:40):

Every great education institution should be grounded in love, equity, and excellence.

Daniel (38:49):

Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts for Ruckus Makers. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter @alienearbud. If the Better Leaders Better Schools Podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway from the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter at alien earbud and using the #BLBS level up your leadership at betterleadersbetterschools.com and talk to you next time until then, class dismissed.



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