The most important thing for Ketica Guter when choosing a graduate program was finding one in which she would gain the tools needed to successfully lead an urban K–12 school. After completing her year in the School Leadership Program (SLP), she’s positive that she made the right choice.
“My year at HGSE has strengthened my determination as it relates to becoming a school leader,” says Guter. “School Leadership is tough, but HGSE helped me to develop my skills and truly internalize self-confidence and self-affirmation.”
That newly strengthened self-confidence makes Guter more sure than ever that her dream career — one in which all children are provided with the opportunity achieve at their highest levels — is right around the corner.
“I plan to lead a school, where I can ensure communities of children can lead an educationally empowered life because I firmly believe that all children, despite their economic, ethnic, or physical background should attain an equitable education,” she says.
An SLP standout, Guter will be presented with the Intellectual Contribution Award for SLP at Convocation on May 24.
“Ketica’s life and work are focused on excellence and equity. She’s a high performer academically and in her leadership internships. She has superb interpersonal skills and lights up a room with her energy and positive disposition,” says Professor Mary Grassa O’Neill, faculty director of SLP. “I am delighted that she is representing the School Leaderhip Program in earning the Intellectual Contribution Award.”
Here, Guter reflects on her time at HGSE and her life in education.
Did you have any fears in coming to HGSE? I was concerned about my transition back to the classroom. Prior to HGSE, I spent 10 years as a teacher and truly feared transitioning from being a teacher to a student. I quickly learned that my initial fear was unwarranted because HGSE reminded me that we never stop learning. Learning is a continuous process that we must embrace in order to reach our full potential.
What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education? Professors and staff constantly remind us of the real “Big H”: Humility. The constant message of humility has been a common thread of my experience. Despite how you impact education, we must remember that we are here to serve students and families in both small and large ways. Additionally, we must develop both horizontal (with our colleagues) and vertical (with our professors) relationships. In doing so, we maximize our impact and learning. This advice extends beyond the walls of HGSE. As an aspiring school leader, strong relationships with my colleagues and central office personnel will lead to increased outcomes for students and families.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year? Self-care is essential! Faith is extremely important and it anchors me. So, I made time to attend church and fellowship with other believers. I also love doing community service and committed to mentoring middle school young ladies, despite the work load. Community service reminded me of my “why” and it fueled my passion and purpose. I joined student groups on campus because I wanted to connect with like-minded people. My cohort is phenomenal and I greatly enjoyed exploring the Greater Boston area with my colleagues.
Any special study spots on campus (or off)? The roof of Gutman was my favorite study spot during the fall and spring. The beauty of the sun was both inspiring and motivating. When I could not get to the roof of Gutman, I would read on the bank of the Charles River; the water was calming and invigorating. During the winter months, I LOVED studying in the SLP office. I had an opportunity to focus on my work while fellowshipping with my peers.
What will you change in education and why? Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” My personal experience highlights the transformative power of education. My childhood zip code indicated that my opportunities would be limited, but I had teachers and school leaders who gave their all to ensure I would be different. My parents’ educational background did not impede my success and I am committed to not allowing my students’ economic status to influence their educational achievements. Equity, access, and excellence are not buzz words, but they are words that define my approach to this work. Through sustained commitment, I hope to effectively lead learning so students can live educationally empowered lives.