Meet Mrs. Coleman: Berkley’s New Vice Principal

When I stepped into Mrs. Coleman’s office, she instantly greeted me with smiling eyes and a friendly “hello.” Mrs. Coleman came to Berkley this year as our new assistant principal. Although I had previously only seen her a few times in the hallway, after I started speaking to her, it felt like I’ve known her for years. She has been nothing but a ray of sunshine to all the students throughout the pandemic. I could not be more excited to share her thoughts on her first year at Berkley so far.
Mrs. Coleman came to Berkley High School in August of 2021 from Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods, where she served as the District Director of Teaching and Learning. She is a third generation educator with a clear passion for all students and staff she meets. When I asked her what her hopes were for her first year at BHS, she explained that she simply wanted to maintain the well-run environment that our BHS community has. She also wants to work on acclimating to our new normal going through a pandemic. While she has future goals for testing, equality, and inclusion, she still believes “it’s so important this year with us being back in school still in the midst of a global pandemic, that I help to level the ship versus rocking the boat too much with new initiatives.”
I questioned whether it was difficult to come to a new district this year and what obstacles she has faced. She smiled and told me, “I wouldn’t necessarily call the things I faced this year obstacles, but to me, they’re more like speed bumps. At this point, I’ve been able to *knock on wood* get over all of the speed bumps, but some of them are just learning curves, which happens when coming to a new district.” Mrs. Coleman explained that sometimes it’s difficult to learn and become part of a new culture and environment because people have to get to know you. She feels as though the biggest speed bump she’s faced is herself trying to acclimate to the BHS staff and students. She continued on saying, “my sense of humor is very unique and it sometimes flies over people’s heads, or hits them and they feel a certain way, or it lands perfectly and they’re laughing with me. I think that’s the biggest speed bump, but I really don’t call it an obstacle because I think in any situation that you face in a new environment, these things are just bound to come.” Her positive outlook made it clear that she is easily able to adapt to new situations.
After asking Mrs. Coleman what this year taught her, she explained she “[has] learned the power of the spoken and written word.” She spends plenty of time writing and journaling for her own personal pleasure, but this year made it clear to her how much power her words hold. As an English major, she is very thoughtful in her word choices. She thinks that “It has been very important for me to realize the power of what I say to people, how I say things to them, how I write a message, how I deliver the message, and it’s not just what I say, but how I say it”.
Coming to a new school during a pandemic can make it hard to interact with everyone, but Mrs. Coleman said her favorite part of her job was being able to interact with students and staff again. At her previous district-level job, people only contacted her when things weren’t going well, but she missed “those hallway chit-chats, and random conversations, high fives, fistbumps, and all types of things with students and staff on a day to day basis.” Even though there are so many challenges, she explained, “I have enjoyed the moments I get to spend with students, talk with students, learn from students, and interact with staff. Really the people’s side has been the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most.”
When I asked what inspired Mrs. Coleman to be a teacher, she told me about a TV show called Boston Public. A high school drama with characters like Harry Senete, whom she told me were like characters that you haven’t seen before. “It was entertaining to say the least, not exactly realistic. Still, it showed the ins and outs and relationships of high school, and I was captivated”. As the daughter of two educators, she grew up spending time in schools on half-days or days off, and felt that the one thing she really knew about was school, and that’s what drove her to become part of the next generation of educators.
As important as all of these facts about Mrs. Coleman are, when I asked her the one thing she want’s students to know about her, she said, “I want students to know that I am careful and thoughtful. Not thoughtful in the idea of like ‘oh you gave me a really thoughtful gift,’ but thoughtful in the idea that any decision that comes from my office has been treated with a level of thought and preparation that I feel will be best suited for the situation.” She admits that she won’t always hit the nail on the head, but will always do her best to consider every factor she’s been presented with, before making a decision. She continued to say, “I try to handle things with care. Part of me being a libra, because I am your stereotypical libra, is that I like balance. I don’t like confrontation, and I like trying to make sure that I can balance the situation, so I may not always make everyone happy with the decision because part of this job is you can’t. You’re never going to please everybody, but the reality is that I do make the best attempts to hear all sides and make the most thoughtful, careful, decision that I can”.
Mrs. Coleman’s beaming presence and caring personality made it clear to me how great of an addition she is to the BHS staff. I have faith that she will always make decisions that look out for everyone’s best interest. The laughter, honesty, and dedication she brings to the school will yield nothing but positive effects for the entire community.