Please read our organizational announcement introducing our new associate directors. Then, check out the interview below to discover more about Paulina Murton, our new Associate Director of Engagement and Networking.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Nearly two decades ago, I found myself at the front of a 9th grade English classroom in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. With an undergraduate degree in hand and 35 students in front of me, I was completely overwhelmed by the immense complexities of learning to be a teacher. The bustle, hum, and challenge of that first classroom inspired a love of teaching and a passion for educational equity that I carry with me today. I have spent the past eighteen years of my career leading, teaching, coaching and supporting students, teachers, and staff in both school and non-profit settings. From these experiences, I learned an essential lesson: that fostering strong partnerships and relationships is essential to an effective student-centered education model.I’m thrilled to be joining the incredibly dedicated and skilled team at the Great Schools Partnership (GSP).
How has a commitment to educational equity guided your work?
I believe that pushing for educational equity means working to support just outcomes for students at both a systems and an individual level. It means creating policies and laws that work to counter systemic racism and advocating for change in teacher hiring practices to ensure more students of color see teachers at the head of the classroom that look like them. It means providing translation services and childcare at family conferences and visiting students’ homes to ensure they have the technology needed to be successful in school. It means working with school leaders to build culturally-relevant curricula and it means connecting students to resources that support their mental health. Working at all levels of the system, over time and in partnership with students, families, schools and communities, is at the core of achieving educational equity.
Share an experience that enhanced or challenged your work in education and led to insights and commitments you hold today.
I have had the opportunity to learn and grow in my knowledge of restorative justice circles over the past few years, which has reiterated my belief that open dialogue, listening and perspective-taking, and structures to navigate conflict and build trust are central to strong and effective communities. As I have engaged in this practice, I have been continually humbled by the growth and change that can happen through conversation, listening, and holding up marginalized voices. I have watched middle school students lean into daily morning circles to support one another in responding to anti-Black violence, and witnessed families coming together in circles to address conflicts between their children. I firmly believe in the power of dialogue and am committed to listening deeply to my colleagues and our school partners, to centering underrepresented student and family voices, and to being a part of the strong culture of continual learning and growth at GSP.
What excites you about the future of GSP?
I am excited about so much of the work ahead at GSP: the growing network of committed schools, the many tools focused on equitable practice, and the fierce, smart, and dedicated team of GSP coaches working throughout our region and beyond are a few that rise to the top for me.
I look forward to continuing to strengthen the network and opportunities for collaboration among the many educators, school leaders, and community partners connected to GSP. Sharing resources, best practices, and creative solutions across schools deepens our collective impact on positive outcomes for students.
I am excited to support the work of our talented coaches as they strive to push for equitable policies and practices for all students. As schools return to in-person learning across the country, our students, teachers, and communities are navigating change unlike any experienced in recent history. I know that the work of our coaches will be critical to helping schools navigate this moment to ensure schools can be places of safety, support, learning, and connection for students.