Meet Legacy Leadership Executive Rukia Rogers. As an early childhood educator, Rukia not only imparts knowledge but also nurtures young minds with profound care. As a dedicated founder and director of The Highlander School, she embodies the essence of visionary leadership, steering us toward a path illuminated by her values. Rukia’s passion for education shines brightly, and her innovative approaches are shaping the future of learning in remarkable ways.
I am a daughter of this earth, an early childhood educator, an organizer, a friend, and someone deeply committed to the beloved community and fighting for liberation for all.
I am the founder and curriculum director of the Highlander School, where I assume the mantle of a visionary leader. My core responsibility lies in guiding us through pedagogical leadership, ensuring our planning is deeply rooted in our values, and shaping environments that reflect our profound connection and kinship with this earth.
Legacy Leadership Executive Rukia Rogers has goals set:
In the realm of aspirations, my primary goal is a profound act of self-care—a commitment to tend to my well-being as I continue this vital journey. Recognizing that nourishing my soul and body is intrinsic to my ability to enact meaningful change, I’ve embraced the necessity of grounding myself. Rituals that nurture my essence and provide sanctuary are my compass, infusing strength into my every endeavor. Additionally, the embrace of fellow Black womxn, their love and solidarity, forms a cocoon of support that fuels my resilience.
Among recent victories, a momentous milestone is on the horizon. The Highlander school will commemorate its 10th anniversary—an achievement that resonates deeply within me.
This triumph carries profound significance, resonating with the lineage of my ancestry. As the granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, and with my mother’s legacy of becoming the first college attendee in our family, I stand as an embodiment of their dreams realized. The journey to this point has been a testament to their tenacity, fortitude, and the battles they fought both physically and emotionally. While perfection eludes me, the sheer act of my presence is a defiant act of resistance—a living testament to their enduring aspirations.
The Lola community has had a significant impact on me. Although I’ve been unable to visit recently, the essence of the space lingers with me. The physical environment exudes a soothing and captivating aura, both visually and emotionally. It’s a place where I’ve encountered a serene ambiance that encourages connection with oneself and offers a haven for focused work or simply unwinding. Whether engaging in conversations over tea or immersing myself in my tasks, I’m met with camaraderie, support, and a genuine sense of belonging.
The Lola is more than just a physical space; it embodies an emotional sanctuary. Within its walls, I’ve discovered a nurturing hub that facilitates not only personal growth but also connections with others who share a kindred spirit.
The community members, with their kindness and thoughtfulness, contribute to an environment rich in resources and learning opportunities. From an array of workshops to networking chances, The Lola has consistently provided avenues for self-nourishment and personal development. It is a space where I find solace, nurture emotional well-being, and foster meaningful connections.
Building a network and support system as a professional womxn holds a multitude of invaluable benefits.
At its core, there’s a sense of camaraderie that fosters solidarity among peers. This bond is reinforced by shared experiences, leading to an environment where individuals can seek and provide support. The mere act of lending an ear and offering understanding can be incredibly empowering, providing a profound emotional backing, particularly within a community of fellow Black womxn.
Furthermore, the practical advantages are significant. Engaging with those who have walked similar paths offers a wealth of pragmatic wisdom. These connections become a wellspring of practical advice, rooted in firsthand experiences. This often translates into actionable insights such as innovative approaches or tried-and-tested solutions. This collaborative exchange of ideas not only enhances our individual growth but also taps into the collective wisdom of diverse perspectives. Indeed, I hold the belief that knowledge is socially constructed, and within a network of diverse viewpoints, new meanings and understandings emerge, enriching our collective intellectual landscape.
The passion I hold for early childhood education has unfolded into a realm of new prospects. I recently completed writing a book that encapsulates the Highlander School’s journey and ethos—an endeavor that culminated with the final edits just about a month ago. This undertaking has sparked significant interest in our school, prompting inquiries and invitations for others to engage and learn alongside us. This wave of enthusiasm has translated into opportunities to showcase our work through school tours and knowledge-sharing. — Legacy Leadership Executive, Rukia Rogers
Navigating this juncture, where passion dovetails with opportunity, presents both a chance and a challenge. As we seek the delicate equilibrium between our ongoing work and extending support for the professional development of others, the horizon holds promise and intricacy alike. This evolution exemplifies how a heartfelt passion can pave the way for transformative opportunities, as we continue to traverse this dynamic landscape.
Legacy Leadership Executive Rukia Rogers on automating parts of her business:
In our operations, certain aspects have embraced automation. For instance, we’ve automated invoicing and communication, streamlining these processes for greater efficiency. We’ve integrated the app Brightwheel into our practices, a marked evolution from the days of pen and paper for recording tasks like diaper changes and feedings. This transition has fostered seamless communication with families and proved to be beneficial.
Yet, within the realm of nurturing care and early childhood education, there are profound nuances that defy automation. Our unique context involves caring for babies, beings that require the presence and touch of another human. The essence of what we do is rooted in the intimacy of human interactions, a realm where artificial intelligence cannot substitute for the warmth of personal connection. While we’re making strides in automating areas such as payroll and accounting, we acknowledge that certain aspects of our work are elegantly intertwined with the interplay of human relationships, enriching our commitment to holistic education and genuine connection.
Professionally, I hold financial goals that resonate deeply with the Highlander School’s ethos.
In our field, it’s an unfortunate reality that compensation often falls short of what is deserved. Thus, a pivotal aim of mine is to uplift the livelihoods of our staff by ensuring their wages and salaries surpass mere sustenance and enable them to thrive. This endeavor, however, is met with challenges amplified by the nature of our industry—reliant on parental tuition as our primary financial support.
Expanding avenues such as professional development and alternative income streams becomes integral to realizing this aspiration. My personal dreams align seamlessly with this cause, for I believe that individual progress should be paralleled by communal upliftment. Every member of our team, who dedicates themselves day in and day out, deserves financial security and more. This transcends mere monetary value; it encompasses establishing retirement programs and comprehensive benefits that honor the worth of every human being. Yet, I confront the daunting reality that achieving these financial goals is a formidable challenge, a struggle accentuated by the undervaluation of our field and the underappreciation that often pervades it. In the face of these hurdles, I am resolute in my commitment to rectifying this disparity and fostering a workplace where dignity and prosperity are synonymous for all.
What sets the Highlander School apart, in my view, is its distinctiveness within an educational landscape often shaped by industrial models preparing children for a capitalistic system.
Our uniqueness emerges from embracing an alternative approach that deviates from this norm. We dwell within the confines of a house, a deliberate choice rooted in my own introspections on childhood.
At the heart of our approach lies the belief that a child’s foundational need is safety, security, and love—the bedrock upon which true flourishing thrives. This belief is tangible in our deliberate cultivation of relationships, spanning connections among children, staff, the space itself, and our Earth. Celebrating childhood is paramount, not for its utilitarian potential in an economic future, but for the intrinsic value each child brings to our world today.
Furthermore, what distinguishes us is our partnership with families—a collaborative journey to nurture and raise each child. We transcend the role of a mere service provider, embracing a shared mission that resonates deeply with our commitment to holistic education. In essence, our uniqueness is sculpted by our dedication to creating an environment where children are cherished for their presence, their innate worth, and their boundless potential in the here and now.
Activism to me is more than a concept—it’s a legacy passed down through generations. My introduction to activism dates back to my childhood, where my mother’s unwavering commitment to social causes set the stage.
My first rally and protest, experienced at the tender age of five, marked an indelible moment that instilled a sense of purpose within me. While my engagement with political matters has persisted, it was only in the past year that I fully embraced the role of an organizer—a catalyst for tangible societal transformation.
My journey as an organizer revolves around halting the construction of cop city, an emblem of systemic oppression. This massive police training facility perpetuates the chains of enslavement, disproportionately binding Black and Brown bodies. I am driven to rally against this injustice, to save the vital lungs of our city—the lining forest. It’s an environmental injustice that has relentlessly plagued our predominantly Black community in Atlanta.
In this newfound role, my mission is two-fold. Firstly, it’s about amplifying the voices of our young children—the inheritors of this earth, the heartbeat of our community. Their perspectives matter, and my purpose is to ensure they are heard. Secondly, I strive to give voice to early childhood educators like myself, connecting the dots between our heritage, our Black identity, and our profound connection to the earth.
This transformational year has witnessed my growth as I took on the mantle of leadership in rallies alongside young children. It has seen me spearheading the organization of events that bring us to city halls, where we address the city council, advocate for our rights, and partake in referendums. A resounding conviction drives me—the belief that a true democracy necessitates the collective voice of its people in decision-making processes.
My role extends beyond the walls of the Highlander school; it’s interwoven with the fabric of our community. I stand as a conduit to amplify voices and rally for liberation—an advocate for all marginalized voices, a champion for justice, equity, and freedom. This is my role as an organizer—an instrument of change, a beacon of hope, and an agent of transformation in a world yearning for its redemption.
Why Legacy Leadership? Why Now?
The journey of my career as an early childhood educator spans nearly three decades, with the inception of the Highlander school marking a significant milestone in 2013. As we approach our 10th year, the past year has witnessed a profound transformation within me—one that seeks equilibrium between my role as an educator and the emergence of my identity as an organizer. This juncture in my journey is characterized by a quest for balance, as I explore the dimensions of leadership in diverse contexts. It’s a quest that’s driven by the desire to harmonize my roles while also contemplating the legacy I wish to imprint upon the world.
For me, Legacy isn’t tethered to material wealth or possessions; it’s intricately woven into the fabric of the world I envision—a world shaped by compassion, equity, and empowerment. The evolution of my leadership style has prompted a deeper introspection, highlighting the importance of nurturing myself in the process. The act of giving to the community stems from a foundation of self-care and self-nurturing—an ethos that resonates deeply with me. — Legacy Leadership Executive, Rukia Rogers
Legacy Leadership has emerged as the perfect crucible for this pivotal moment. Its timing is serendipitous, affording me the opportunity to not only align my leadership trajectory but also to dedicate time and energy to my own growth. This voyage isn’t just about showing up for others; it’s about cultivating myself so that the leadership I offer is rooted in authenticity and strength. In essence, Legacy Leadership is a conduit that empowers me to enrich my own journey, enabling me to subsequently enrich the journeys of those I serve.
Connect with Rukia Rogers
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