Mentoring Experiences of Afro-Caribbean Women Principals in an Urban Context

Magalie Exavier Alexis, Fordham University


A robust research literature exists on the importance of quality leadership in education, especially in the principalship. However, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners have systemically overlooked women’s leadership in education, focusing on the contributions of White men. Undeniable and dramatic shifts have taken place in students' racial and ethnic composition in public schools, with experts predicting decades of continued change. The opportunity gap for these students continues to widen, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The increase in students of color contrasts with the persistent underrepresentation of principals of color, including Afro-Caribbean women principals. However, research shows that seeing building leaders who “look like you” improves the sense of belonging, engagement, and achievement. If America is serious about closing the racial achievement gap, focusing on principals of color is a crucial missing piece. Supporting principals of color must be culturally responsive, leveraging the myriad strengths they bring. This makes mentoring an ideal practice. This qualitative case study explored how Afro-Caribbean women principals' cultural beliefs, mentoring, and leadership practices influenced their careers. Cultural beliefs and Afro-Caribbean heritage were critical to their effectiveness and leadership practices. Mentoring had a consistently positive influence. Nine themes emerged in three domains: 1) cultural beliefs that influence effectiveness: valuing education, strict discipline, and family orientation; 2) positive impacts of mentoring: developing as a leader, balancing people and outcomes, and creating a model for mentoring; and 3) critical leadership practices of women Afro-Caribbean School principals: student-centered learning, passion for learning, and professional development.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Womens studies|Educational administration|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Alexis, Magalie Exavier, "Mentoring Experiences of Afro-Caribbean Women Principals in an Urban Context" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28650166.