Danika LaCroix, Principal/NYC Leadership Academy APP Graduate
- What is your current role and professional history?
I am the founding principal of the Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery and Exploration. This year marks my seventeenth year as an educator in New York City and Atlanta public school systems. My professional history includes the following positions: speech pathologist, special educator, literacy coach, reading recovery teacher, data specialist, and assistant principal.
- What is exceptional leadership?
An exceptional leader is someone who has the ability to inspire, develop, motivate, and empower an entire community of teachers and learners.
- Why do you believe your role as a principal is a critical lever to student achievement?
My role is a critical lever to student achievement because I am responsible for setting the tone, establishing the culture, and leading the community in the right direction. My vision is the blueprint and my daily expectations are the strategies that will move us forward.
- Why did you choose the NYC Leadership Academy’s Aspiring Principals Program (APP)? How has the program impacted you as a leader?
I selected the New York City Leadership Academy’s Aspiring Principals Program primarily because of the opportunity to participate in a full time residency for an entire year. The idea of working side by side with an experienced principal was exactly what I needed. It afforded me many opportunities to develop my leadership style in a safe environment.
- Tell us about one or two personal or professional experiences that have shaped you as a leader.
At my residency site, I met a student who traveled an hour and a half every day from Bushwick, Brooklyn to Park Slope, Brooklyn just to “get to the good school.” As the student’s mother shared her story with me, I recall her words, “I shouldn’t have to travel so far to get to a good school.” I agree with her; every school in New York City should be just as good as that school in Park Slope. That day I realized my purpose as a leader--I am here to bridge the learning gap and make my school an exceptional place where parents are pleased to send their children and students are proud to attend.