Published on January 24th, 2024 | by Dr. Jerry Doby0
An Interview with Educator Astein Osei
Renowned educator Astein Osei first entered the field of education following an unexpected invitation to substitute teach during his senior year of college. That serendipitous moment helped ignite a passion that led him on a journey from journalism to a purposeful career, shaping young minds. Now, after over two decades of experience in the field of education, he’s climbed the ladder to administrative roles and recently served with distinction as a school superintendent.
In this interview, Astein Osei shares the inspirations, challenges, and pivotal moments that have defined his journey.
Background in Education
Can you share with us your journey into the field of education?
I came into the field of education in a non-traditional manner. My undergraduate studies were in the areas of Journalism and Communications. During my senior year, I did an internship with Fox Sports and had every intention to go into the field of television production. During the spring semester of my senior year of college, a mentor of mine needed some support at a high school where he was working as a Dean of Students. They were having difficulties filling substitute teaching positions, and he asked if I would be willing to help out. From the moment that I stepped foot into the classroom, I was instantly drawn to the energy of the students and began to substitute teach multiple days a week at the school. At the end of the school year, I was invited back to serve in the capacity of building substitute, and I coached football and track and field. From there, I decided to go back to school for education. I spent five years as a health and physical education teacher at the school before moving to an administrative position in another school district.
What inspired you to pursue a career in education?
There were a number of things that inspired me to go into the field of education. First and foremost, I am a firm believer that nothing happens by chance or luck and that everything happens for a reason. I believe that God has ordered my steps and the field of education for me is not a job but a vocation. It was not an accident that I was invited to substitute teach in the spring of 2002. I believe that is the calling that God has put on my life, which is why I was so drawn to the students, and the students were drawn to me during my substitute teaching experience.
I also recall, as a K-12 student, having teachers and administrators of color. Growing up in Illinois in the 80s and 90s, there were teachers and administrators of color, and I have fond memories of the positive impact that they had on my life. Every one of these teachers held high expectations for me and saw brilliance in me that I didn’t even see in myself. As a Black male, I want to create educational environments for all students, especially students of color, where there are high expectations for their academic performance, where they are loved, and have the opportunity to explore their gifts just as I was able to do as a student growing up in the suburbs of Chicago.
Lastly, I pursued a career in education because I believe that pre-k schooling, especially public schooling, is critical to the success of our democracy. If our great nation is going not only to survive but thrive, we will need everyone to be educated in a manner that gives them access to grade-level standards, allows them to understand who they are, and begin to learn about people who are different from them, and creates opportunities for critical thinking and dialogue. I want to contribute to the development of a generation of Americans who can solve some of our countries and the world’s toughest challenges.
How has your own educational experience influenced your professional philosophy?
I would begin by saying that I had a positive pre-k educational experience in schools that were diverse racially, culturally, and socio-economically. I believe this, coupled with the adults in those environments having high expectations, giving me access to grade level standards, and seeing my brilliance positioned me well in being a positive contributing member of society. It has also allowed me to engage in, sustain, and deepen critical conversations as an adult. I have also been able to make a positive contribution to a profession that is in a fragile position at this time in our Nation’s history.
My experience as a student lets me know that the predictable and persistent gaps in student achievement that we see across this country don’t have to be there. My educational experience as a student is a motivating factor in my pursuit to create racial equity transformation in the schools and districts where I work. My experience motivates me. I reflect on my educational experiences as a Black male from a single-mother household who did not grow up “rich.” I am reminded that with the right environment, beliefs, and instructional strategies, every student can be successful regardless of the color of their skin, the engagement level of their caregivers, or the socio-economic level of the community they grow up in. I recognize that poverty, racism, and parent engagement play a role in a student’s success, and I also believe that when educators create a racially and culturally relevant learning environment, it can mitigate the adverse childhood experiences that many students encounter.
Could you describe a pivotal moment in your early career that shaped your path?
When I entered this profession, I never had any intention of going into leadership/administration. Early in my career, I had a principal who believed in me more than I believed in myself. This person encouraged me to pursue my principal license and superintendent license and gave me opportunities for leadership when maybe my resume did not have the credentials to justify my leadership in those areas. I believe this person’s belief in me and support of my development shaped my path because I was put into positions where I had access to experiences and relationships that later turned into career opportunities down the road. This experience also influences how I see my responsibility to provide mentorship and opportunities to aspiring leaders and educators who might not see themselves as leaders, but have the capacity to impact the profession through leadership positively.
What challenges did you face as you advanced in your career in education?
As I advanced in my career, one of the challenges I faced was as my responsibility and scope became larger, I never wanted to lose the “common touch.” Meaning, I did not want to be so far removed that I did not know what was happening in the lives of my colleagues. For example, if a custodian at one of our sites’ spouses passed away. I wanted to know, and I wanted to engage that person and be there for them. Or if a teacher was diagnosed with cancer, it was important for me to know how I could help support them and their family. As my responsibilities became greater, sometimes I would not know about these things until after the fact, and I always felt that it was important for a leader to engage colleagues on a human level as well as a professional level.
Another challenge that I continue to face in my career is being able to eradicate racial predictability in student achievement. As a health and physical education teacher, I felt that I had more influence, direct control, or impact on how a student performed in my class. As I advanced in my career, while I felt I had more influence on the systems and structures of the school or organization, I did not feel the same level of influence on being able to directly impact a student’s grades or experience.
How have your roles prior to becoming a superintendent prepared you for this position?
I feel like every role I had was important foundationally for becoming a superintendent. After serving in the position for 6+ years, I do not believe that anything can truly prepare you for the role. For the role of superintendent, I believe the best preparation is experience. Every school district, community, and staff is unique. As a superintendent you have to intimately understand every aspect of the community you serve so that you are able to influence and facilitate the strategic priorities of the district. My prior roles gave me an understanding of important technical aspects of school leadership, but my best teacher was making a mistake and learning from it. Whether it be poor timing of communication with families or the pace at which we implemented priority work, those experiences helped me to better understand the community I was serving and the needs and expectations of that community. If I had to pick one role it would be the role of assistant superintendent. Working in such close proximity to the superintendent in that role gave me insight into strategy, process, and implementation of strategic priority work that I had never experienced in other positions. As an assistant superintendent, I began to see and understand the importance of the superintendent/school board relationship. Having an effective school board/superintendent relationship modeled for me was extremely important for my leadership.
What are some of the key lessons you learned in your early years as an educator?
What I learned early on was that relationships in this profession are critical. Most importantly, if I want to influence students, I have to have strong, positive, trusting relationships with them. The old saying, “students don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” is so true. This doesn’t just stop with students; this is important for the adults who work in educational settings and the communities in which I have served.
Another key lesson I learned is the importance of being prepared. Trying to get up in front of a classroom of students and “wing it” generally does not work out well and makes for a long class period. Either as a teacher, principal, or superintendent, being prepared and planful has allowed me to create engaging and productive spaces for both youth and adult learners in the positions I have held over the years.
Who were your mentors or role models in the education sector, and how did they influence you?
I have had many people invest in me over the years and help me to become the leader that I am today. People like Ms. Kelli Parpart, Dr. Kate Maguire, Dr. Israel Moses, Mr. Willie Jett, Dr. Bernadeia Johnson, Dr. Melissa Krull, Mr. Andy Bischoff, Mr. John Turner, Dr. Scott Thielman, Dr. Deb Hinton, and others. All of these people influenced me through their leadership. It was not necessarily the words or lessons that they shared with me but the way that they led and engaged students, staff, and the community. I had an opportunity to work more closely with some of them than others, but I watched all of them over the years, and all of them invested in me and the leader that I am today.
Can you discuss a significant achievement in your career before becoming a superintendent?
I am not sure I would classify it as a significant achievement, but prior to becoming a superintendent, I had an opportunity to present at national conferences and state-level conferences. Every time I got these opportunities, I would be surprised, nervous, and excited all at the same time. I would be surprised because I would be wondering who is interested in what I have to say. I would be nervous because imposter syndrome is real, and I wanted what I was sharing to be credible and useful for the participants. I would be excited because I knew it was an opportunity to influence adults in the pre-k-12 educational space. With each of these opportunities I would leave the experience feeling like I gained more from it than the participants because of the rich dialogue and engagement of the participants.
How do you think the education profession has evolved since you started?
Since I started in 2002, I believe that the profession has evolved. A lot of the evolution that comes to mind is technology related. Increased device and internet access has allowed for technology-enriched learning environments and collaboration in ways we have never seen before. The pandemic taught us that students can thrive in learning environments other than just the traditional schooling model. So you see virtual schools popping up everywhere, and you see some school districts with creative hybrid scheduling options for students and families. I also think we have seen the evolution of how people view standardized testing and have begun to broaden their formerly narrow beliefs about what achievement looks like. You are seeing more of a focus on the whole child. Along with that, mental health has become something that educators are focused on, which is a shift from the “buck up” mentality that was pervasive in schools and society previously. School safety and facility enhancements to make schools more secure have evolved, and over the past five years, there appears to be more meaningful equity work occurring with educators.
Current Outlook on the Profession
What are your core values as a superintendent?
As a superintendent, the following core values have been foundational for me.
Collective Responsibility – I believe that as educators, we all must work together to support the healthy development of our learners. I often lean into the South African term of Ubuntu, “I am because we are,” in my leadership because collectivism is a critical aspect of improving educational outcomes for students. I know often in films about educators (i.e Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me, The Great Debaters, etc.) that there is a hero who overcomes all odds to help a student or a group of students. Still, that type of individualism does not lead to sustained system change.
Advocacy for Equity – As educators, I believe that we have a responsibility to develop citizens who will help create an anti-racist democracy. With that being the case, I know that we have to create learning environments that are welcoming and inclusive for all students regardless of their race, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, etc. Creating that type of environment is necessary to ensure that all students have access to grade-level standards, that all students understand who they are racially and culturally and work towards proficiency in other races and cultures, and that all students have an opportunity to develop a socio-political consciousness. Simply put, students have the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and get practice at identifying problems and coming up with solutions for those problems.
Trust is Essential – in order to successfully lead school districts trust is an essential aspect to develop effective relationships with students, staff, families, and community. I am always assessing the sincerity, reliability, competence, and care in the professional relationships I establish.
High Expectations – I believe that every learner I come in contact with possesses gifts and talents, and it is my responsibility as an educator to nurture the gifts and talents that they have been blessed with. In order to do that, I believe that I have to have high expectations for those learners and not provide them with remedial educational experiences because of the mental models that I or others may hold about their ability to learn.
How do you approach decision-making?
As much as possible, I try to approach decision-making in a collaborative manner. I try not to make decisions based on my own understanding and always attempt to be inclusive of multiple perspectives. I also try to make sure that the decisions I am making aligns with the strategic direction of the organization that I am leading. I lean into the West African idea of Sankofa, understanding that our past informs our future. So, I try to be mindful of how historical events/decisions impact the decision that needs to be made. Understanding the historical aspect also helps to mitigate making the same mistake over and over again. There have been times when I have had to make tough decisions without as much perspective as I would like because of the time-sensitive nature of the decision. For example, weather-related school closure decisions. I would bring a team together to plan for these types of emergency events, but there have been times when quick decisions have had to be made without as much input as I would like.
Can you describe a recent initiative you’ve implemented that was a success?
There are several, but one that stands out is the 2022 special election to improve our physical facilities in the school district. This was significant because, in 2017, we went out for the largest bond in school district history at $100.9 million dollars. Then, to come back a few years later and ask for another $136 million was risky, given the financial climate coming out of the pandemic.
We were looking to continue the projects we started in 2017 to:
- enhance the daily lived experience of students;
- stabilize costs, conserve energy, and
- improve safety and security.
While we made great strides in these areas through facility improvements, the pandemic had a profound impact on our ability to complete all of the projects connected to the 2017 bond referendum. Our construction management team did a great job of leveraging the resources provided, and due to increased labor costs and supply and materials shortages, there were several projects we were not able to complete as a part of the 2017 bond referendum. With the 2017 bond dollars, we were able to make substantial physical facilities improvements to all of our elementary schools and our middle school, but there was still more work to be done to ensure that our facilities enhance the daily lived experience of students.
August 9, 2022, as a part of a special election, the voters in the community approved the renewal and expansion of our Capital Project Levy for Technology by $500,000 and approved the $136 million bond referendum. Getting these two questions approved was a huge undertaking and will have a positive impact on the district for years to come, as the bulk of those dollars are being used to improve the high school campus.
How do you foster a positive and inclusive culture in your schools?
I believe in order to foster a positive and inclusive culture requires a collective effort and cannot just be the work of a few people. Specifically, I believe it requires an entire school community to consistently commit themselves to engaging with one another in a way that honors the dignity and humanity of each member of our community. At the core of honoring each other’s dignity and humanity is a restorative mindset – a way of being that I believe can lead us to improved morale and experience.
In order to create a restorative culture, which I believe leads to a positive and inclusive culture, I have tried to foster environments that focus on the following areas:
- Communication that centers everyone’s humanity and dignity
- Acknowledging and interrupting harmful communication and communication patterns that keep districts from actualizing their mission and strategic priorities
- Engagement with restorative practices
- A commitment to building systems/structures for all staff/students to continue to practice, learn, and reflect as they grow in their restorative practices development
- Youth, staff, and community voice
- The inclusion of stakeholder voice and frequent feedback loops for site/department leaders and leadership teams.
Restorative practices afford us the opportunity to build community, learn, grow and celebrate the brilliance of each other. I truly believe that deepening a restorative culture can lead to a positive and inclusive school community. Like in any organization, the work is too fast for some and not fast enough for others. At the rapid pace that educators are forced to move, it is important that we listen deeply to each other’s perspectives and engage in honest, compassionate dialogue about ways to do our work together effectively.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of modern education?
There are so many important aspects of modern education. Educators play a critical role in ensuring our nation’s students have the knowledge and skills required to be effective members of a democracy while also possessing the ability to adapt as our economy and jobs continue to transform.
Public education is a key factor in the success of our democracy. I have often said that public education can be a pathway to the development of an antiracist democracy through the intentional use of culturally relevant instruction.
In a MinnPost article, Dr. Deb Hinton, Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, shared, “It is often the case that we take for granted what we have in abundance. This may be true of our excellent public schools in Minnesota. In so many ways, our public schools are the envy of the entire nation, woven into the fabric of our state. We are so used to them that it’s easy to forget all they contribute to our lives…”
Dr. Hinton’s words resonate with me, and I certainly believe that we have a lot to be proud of in the state of Minnesota as it relates to education at this time. I also cannot look away from the fact that we still have work to do as public school educators to ensure that every child has access to an education that celebrates their brilliance as learners in ways that prepare them to be contributors to the creation of an antiracist democracy. I believe the most important aspect of modern education is school districts across this nation developing the ability to create learning environments where students have access to grade-level standards, where they have the opportunity to learn about themselves racially and culturally and work towards proficiency in other races and cultures, and where they have the opportunity to develop a socio-political consciousness, having the ability to be critical thinkers.
How do you stay informed and current in the ever-evolving field of education?
I stay up to date on the field through my lived experiences in the profession, literature, professional organizations, conferences, news, interacting with others in the field, and engaging students, educators, and families about their experience.
What role do you believe technology plays in education today?
Increased device and internet access has allowed for technology-enriched learning environments and collaboration in ways we have never seen before for both students and educators. I believe technology will continue to play a critical role in student engagement, efficiency, pace, and most importantly, it will allow educators to get better at personalizing learning experiences for students in ways we haven’t even imagined yet. I believe the more educators can personalize learning and make it relevant to students, the greater the engagement and excitement for learning will be from the students. Technological tools are a pathway/strategy to create personalized learning environments.
Can you share an example of how you’ve adapted to unexpected challenges or changes?
Throughout my 22 years as an educator, challenges and change have been a constant, especially as I have been working to create equitable learning environments in the classrooms, schools, and districts in which I have had the opportunity to work. Regardless, if I was in a conservative school or district or district believing itself to be liberal and progressive, challenges, change, and resistance have been present.
In my most recent experience as a superintendent, challenges, and resistance showed up when we moved to a talent development model for K-8 students, eliminated our racially predictable remedial intervention program, provided professional development for staff in the area of culturally relevant instruction, enhanced our teacher development and evaluation rubric to reflect culturally relevant instructional practices, and when we developed a strategic plan for racial equity transformation.
Challenges and resistance became more forceful when we attempted to close the gap between the things we said we believed and our actions, especially if it required adults to change their practice or experience discomfort.
In any challenging situation I experience, I always try to get to the root cause/antecedent of the challenge. If I can understand the root cause of the resistance, I can better work in collaboration to find a compromise. I enter challenging situations assuming positive intent and try really hard not to allow my feelings to cloud my judgment. While the compromise I work towards might alter the path we take or the pace of implementation, I work to keep the focus on achieving the outcome. I often find that the challenge with most things implemented in educational settings is that the work is too slow for the students and families of color and too fast for the adults in the organization.
Vision for the Future
How do you envision the future of education?
I envision the future of education being one that is learner-centered. With an increase in learning technologies and more and more districts investing in creating technology-enriched learning environments, I see instruction becoming more and more individualized to meet each learner’s needs. I see traditional models of schooling continuing to shift and school districts taking lessons learned from the pandemic to create more flexibility in the school day. I see a continual movement away from such a significant focus on standards-based assessments and the development of other ways to define and assess learning goals. I do not believe that standard-based assessment will or should completely go away, but I believe it will be one of several key indicators to determine a student’s and school’s success. I see there also being a greater investment in educator professional development to be able to support the changes that will need to occur and to value the professionals that have been called to educate our youth
What steps are you taking to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century?
The key step I have taken in my work is to try to create educational environments that create opportunities for students to be problem solvers and critical thinkers. More than ever our nation is in need of people who can change the trajectory of the challenges our nation is facing and position this country to thrive for hundreds of years to come. In order to do this, students will have to be innovative, globally minded, critical thinkers, and courageous. I believe I am preparing students for the 21st century by creating environments where they are able to develop their socio-political consciousness. By creating environments where they can be risk-takers, where they can become globally minded, and where they are challenged academically and forced to think critically about the learning they are experiencing.
How do you plan to address equity and diversity in schools?
I plan to address equity and diversity in schools by leveraging the things I have learned through my research and experience over the years and sharing it with other educators and policy makers. I plan on sharing a framework that will include the following concepts. These concepts emerged as themes in my research of educators’ beliefs and instructional strategies used to promote achievement for students of color.
- Brilliance of self and others
- High expectations and developing student agency
- Collective responsibility
- Persistent effort and developing risk-takers
- Racial consciousness and cultural competence
- Advocacy for equity through relationships
- Student-centered facilitation of learning
What role do you see for community partnerships in the future of education?
Community partnerships have been and will continue to be an important aspect of the success of schools in this country. While I believe that schools are the heartbeat of any community. I believe that community partnerships play an important role in supporting the functions of the heart that allow it to beat. Being that the success of a community and school district go hand in hand,in successful communities you will see a lot of engagement from community partners. I also believe that we will continue to see community partners engage schools and create workforce pathways in hard-to-fill areas. This will continue to be an important role for community partners as we move forward in the future.
How do you plan to integrate environmental sustainability into education?
When you create culturally relevant learning environments, concepts like environmental sustainability are easier to make relevant for students. As students strengthen their socio-political consciousness, the issues we face as a country become more visible to students, and not only are the issues visible, but students want to take action to change what is happening. I have seen environmental sustainability lessons taught in an interdisciplinary manner. I have observed science and social studies working together on climate issues, and I have seen science classes do projects that directly impact our school community. Things like idling in the parent pick-up line at the school, the use of plasticware in our cafeterias, and water and energy consumption. In each of these examples, students provided suggestions and a pathway forward for our school district to implement a more sustainable practice. I guess what I am getting at is that I believe this is best learned through the application of real-life, relevant issues that affect students daily life experience.
What innovative educational practices are you excited about exploring?
I am excited to continue to explore ideas to customize the learning for each student according to their unique skills, abilities, and interests in a culturally relevant manner. I believe technology provides a lot of opportunities for this type of personalized learning to occur and to be able to nurture a student’s brilliance better.
How do you support the professional development of teachers and staff?
I operate from the belief that professional development is a continuous process of individual and collective examination of practice. I also believe that the knowledge/answer is generally in the room. It is not always about giving new information to educators. Instead creating space for reflection and sharing of learning and experience can go a long way in improving educator capacity. I attempt to create professional learning experiences that align with adult learning theory and that create space for staff to deepen and sustain the student-centered work they are leading in their learning spaces. Generally, the professional development I am responsible for organizing allows for community building, reflection, new learning, and collaboration.
What is your approach to maintaining mental health and well-being in schools?
The education profession is extremely rewarding, and it is just as taxing from a mental and emotional standpoint for both students and staff. Everyone finds different ways to cope with and manage their mental health needs, some approaches being healthy and others harmful. A strategy that has been helpful for me is connected to my intention around gratitude. As I have worked to spend more time on the things that I am grateful for, I have noticed that this time has allowed me to find some balance with the stressful things that occupy my thinking. This focus on gratitude is foundational in maintaining mental health and well-being in schools. My focus on gratitude during my leadership led to increased recognition of students and staff in schools, it led to the creation of professional development spaces designed to center the humanity and dignity of self and others, and led to increased empathy in our school settings.
How do you envision incorporating global perspectives into local education?
I believe when you create culturally relevant learning environments that incorporating a global perspective is easier to bring to life and to make it relevant for students. As students do the work to understand who they are racially and culturally and work towards proficiency in other races and cultures, it provides them a window to the world as our schools are made up of students from across the globe. Additionally, technology has helped with this, and things that were once impossible are now at the fingertips of our students. I remember once our students doing an energy conservation project. They were charged with figuring out how to use solar to support people in the eastern region of Kenya. Well, with virtual reality, they were able to walk through the villages to get a sense of the need and better design a solar solution to address that need. A global perspective, when done in a culturally relevant way, should be shared through literature, social studies, arts, music, math, science, and any subject where people around the world have made a contribution. Doing it this way shows the brilliance of people around the world, as opposed to only incorporating a global perspective through a deficit lens.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a superintendent?
There have been a lot of things that I am proud of during my time as superintendent. Whether it be the passing of multiple bond referendums, the development of a strategic plan for racial equity transformation, changing start times, implementing a new literacy development program, creating a talent development program, evolving the teacher development and evaluation rubric, or interrupting remedial math and reading tracks, I believe all of those things were only possible because of effective relationships and the spirit of Ubuntu. The most rewarding aspect of being a superintendent is having the opportunity to engage, sustain, and deepen relationships with stakeholders across the school system. Some of my best memories involve positive and challenging dialogue with students, staff, and caregivers. Many superintendents have nightmares about leading during the pandemic. While it was one of the most challenging things I have experienced, I was grateful for the way that the pandemic brought us together and forced us to connect and collaborate in ways we had never done prior. Any organization is only as strong or good as the people that make up that organization. The most rewarding aspect of the superintendency is being able to be in a relationship with a diverse group of stakeholders.
How do you balance the demands of your profession with personal time?
This is something that I have not been good with, and I would say it is a tough lesson that I have had to learn over the years. As a husband and father of two children under the age of 12, when I was in the superintendency, I did not do a good job balancing or prioritizing the things in my life that were most important. I prioritized the job over everything else to the detriment of my marriage and quality time with my children. As I move forward in my professional pursuits, I will never make this mistake again. My wife would often tell me that I invest so much time doing things for people who might grieve for a day if I were to die tomorrow, and the people who I am neglecting (my family) will grieve for the rest of their lives. While I always believed her, I could not get out of my own way because I had created a system where people knew that they had access to me 24/7 even when I was out for vacation. I recently had an experience where my wife’s wisdom played itself out, and everyone who was constantly consuming my time disappeared when they could no longer benefit from their relationship with me. And my family was there to pick up the pieces and walk side by side with me every step of the journey.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a superintendent?
Be clear about your WHY. If you do not have a focused direction or conviction about student learning, this job will eat you alive. Also, your mental health and overall well-being matter, too. Oftentimes, as a superintendent, you are forced to focus on everyone else , and there is very rarely any concern for how you are doing. There is an unspoken expectation that you do not get to be tired, stressed, mentally unhealthy, or depressed. Do not fall into this unrealistic and unsustainable trap. Make time for yourself, find balance, disconnect, and, most importantly, find healthy outlets to manage and mitigate the impact of the stressors of the job. Also, you have to encourage yourself! Oftentimes, in this role, you only hear from people when something goes wrong or they are upset. Trust in your leadership and spend time in reflection, creating opportunities to speak positively, with joy and love, into your life.
Is there a specific area in education you are particularly passionate about?
Yes, my dissertation area focused on teacher beliefs and instructional strategies that promote achievement for students of color. The research aimed to identify the beliefs and instructional strategies that lead to traditionally marginalized populations of students’ academic growth. The study affirmed that teacher beliefs and instructional practices matter when attempting to create academic growth for traditionally marginalized groups of students. During the study several themes surfaced in relationship to the importance of educator beliefs and instructional practices.
How do you see your role evolving in the next five years?
I see myself starting a business and taking all of my learning over the past 22 years as an educator and sharing that with others in ways that support the work they are doing in their districts and schools. I see myself writing a book about the findings from my research and continuing to contribute to the field of education positively.
Most importantly, as I think about my role as a human, husband, and father, I see myself continuing to prioritize my relationship with God and my family. I plan on my words and actions being a reflection of the love, grace, and mercy that God has shown me over the years. I see myself maintaining the balance that I have been able to create over the past several months and prioritizing what matters most, which is God, my wife and children. I plan to continue to work towards the creation of an anti-racist democracy through pre-k-12 education and effect change that leads to a more effective and equitable world.
In a profession where impact goes beyond textbooks, Astein Osei’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of dedicated educators. Through his experience and insights, he has a lot to offer future generations of educators. His commitment to fostering inclusive environments and nurturing future leaders serves as an inspiration, reflecting the heart of education—a vocation that is far more than just an average profession.