Our sponsor, Prospect Sierra is an independent TK-8 school enrolling 470 students on two spacious campuses in the El Cerrito hills. They're so proud and happy to welcome Berkeley native Nisa Frank as the new Head of School after a nationwide search.
We asked Ms. Frank to answer a few questions about her background and inspiration to learn what makes her a perfect fit.
The first thing you notice about Nisa Frank is her strong sense of purpose and commitment to a child-centered education; she inspires the students, families, faculty, staff, and administrators that surround her.
You’ve been at Prospect Sierra for four months; what do you love about it?
I love every inch of this school! At its core are respect and deep love for children and families. I can see this in everything we do and the countless hours and conversations that go into making sure that all of our families feel seen and heard. I also love that there is a constant sound of adult laughter parallel to our students. There is truly so much joy here.
Why did you decide to become a school leader?
Whether serving as a teacher or an administrator, I’ve always felt like my role in education is to push change. I strive to use the privilege of my education to create the best opportunities for as many children as possible.
What kind of student were you?
I was very shy as a child. While I was confident and had a strong voice and sense of self, I often sat on the sidelines and observed a lot. In elementary school, I was lucky to be challenged and really seen by incredible teachers. My teachers had high expectations of me and I was motivated to meet them and was always excited to see my name on the honor roll.
What is inspiring in education today?
I am inspired every day by the commitment of Prospect Sierra educators to social-emotional learning and its intersection with equity and social justice. Given the state of our country and the various issues that provide ample opportunity for change, our students need to be prepared to understand themselves and their impact on others, both positive and negative. At the end of the day, we want their critical thinking skills to come into play far quicker and more regularly and this takes a lot of practice.
Who are your heroes?
My parents are my heroes. They worked very hard to be intentional about the type of exposure and access to provide for me and my brother. They are both my biggest cheerleaders and while different in their approaches, they both parented in ways that fostered resiliency, curiosity, and confidence.
What inspires you?
People, no matter how old, who think about the world in ways that support interconnectedness inspire me. I’m inspired every time I step foot in our transitional kindergarten classroom and listen to our students talk passionately about the earth and our responsibility to care for it, the squirrel that they’ve named that rests outside the window every day, creating empathy for this being (though it may be a different squirrel every day), and the encouragement they give to one another as they connect with each other’s daily development.
In addition, I’m also inspired by people who create their own narrative and live it as fully as possible. The death of Toni Morrison this year really hit home as she has been someone that I’ve always sat in awe of. Not only did she define her own path, but she also shed light on a truthful and more proximate narrative to African-American life that has allowed my own story, as an African American woman, to feel whole and celebrated.
Thank you to our sponsor, Prospect Sierra and to Nisa Frank for answering our questions.
[All photos provided by Prospect Sierra and used with permission]