Rubenstein Award Winner at Scholar Academies
In the educational landscape of Washington DC, there are educators who stand out as exceptional. Each year, 20 of these people are selected to win a prestigious award called the Rubenstein award. Adding to our list of previous award winners which includes former principal Caroline John, and teacher Melissa Bryant, this year we add Crystal Balogun.
We had the chance to sit down with Ms. Balogun to discuss what brought her to where she is today. Ms. Balogun graciously offered some insight into how she supports the SA team at DC Scholars Stanton Elementary, and what she looks forward to each day. Her drive is unwavering and fully supports everything that Scholar Academies looks for in people who are a part of our staff. A true role model for everyone in her school, Crystal and her school are a beacon of hope in an area of DC that often has a bleak outlook.
“I feel great when I am high performing” -Ms. Balogun
What specific roles do you fulfill at Scholar Academies?
My role is [to be] the business manager/operations director. I provide administrative support to our leadership team […] so that my principal, assistant principals, special education coordinators can focus specifically on instruction.
I am responsible for making sure that our financial matters are intact, making sure that goods and services are procured in a timely manner, making sure that our facilities are clean, safe and can be used for instructional learning.
What is the most important thing you do that students benefit from?
I would have to say providing that extra administrative support, greeting my scholars in the morning, [and] having unwavering relationships with them throughout the day. If Principal Johnson is not in the building … [I serve as another administrator that] has the same values and philosophy as Principal Johnson.
Why do you feel you were selected to win the Rubenstein award?
I don’t know why, one of my speculations could be that I am relentless in the work that I do … I feel great when I am high performing. Everything around me will be happy and everything will be peaceful. If this work were easy, I don’t think I would enjoy it.
The good thing about Scholar Academies partnering with Stanton is that I have friends wanting to know “How do we get that partnership with those people in Philly? We want our school to do what you are doing” in terms of our family engagement, student attendance [and on every element where] there has been an incline.
If you could give any other startup organization or charter school a piece of advice that would allow them to be on the path to success, what would it be?
If it were a school … starting from the top down … you have to be true to the mission, to the cause, to the reason you are here. You have to do it with passion. I can say that I love the work that I do, it’s fulfilling, it’s rewarding because I see the outcome. You have to know that intuitively. You have to know that “I am here because I want to make a difference.” This is not about a pay check it really is not. It’s about making a difference for children who don’t have a voice to advocate for…. the best. We can do that because we know what we would want for our own children.
What got you into the work that you are currently doing, what is your inspiration that made you see this work is necessary?
My daughter, the one that is 19 now… She was 6 years old and had just [gone} to first grade. Previously I was working for a non-profit women’s organization so I was never home, worked a lot of hours, made a lot of money, always on the road and her father… had more flex time than I did so he was always at school with her. Parent teacher conference, I had taken off this day, went to the school and the teacher was like “It’s a pleasure meeting you, Ms. Balogun. I thought her dad was a single dad, I didn’t know you exist.” That was a pivotal moment for me, [thinking] I [have] to choose another career, I need to have time with my child, this is important.
What do school team leaders need to focus on to start a new school?
She’s got to have put together a team just like she was president. You have to have people in your cabinet that you can trust. You have to have people in your cabinet who are very smart who don’t mind going beyond what’s on paper as their role and responsibilities.
How did you discover this opportunity?
The path came in a way that was so unexpected but when the opportunity came I knew that this was my mission. And it is a dedication.
If you, like Crystal Balogun, want to find a way to bring your skills and knowledge to an organization putting inner city students on a P.A.T.H to College, check out our openings here.
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