Educator Spotlight: Sherrill Lindsey, Principal at Elizabeth Hall

 Principal Lindsey joined students and educators from Mrs. Patty Phillips’ first grade classroom as they cleaned up the school’s playground.  Photos by Cirien Saadeh

Principal Lindsey joined students and educators from Mrs. Patty Phillips’ first grade classroom as they cleaned up the school’s playground. Photos by Cirien Saadeh

By Cirien Saadeh | Staff Reporter

Principal Sherrill Lindsey joined the Elizabeth Hall IB International School community just a few months ago on July 31, but she comes well recommended by peers who praise her commitment to equity and a diversity of school voices. Lindsey has been an educator for 27 years, but this is her first time teaching in the Minneapolis Public School (MPS) district and her first year as a school principal. Prior to joining MPS, Lindsey had a number of positions in Brooklyn Center (where she served as an Assistant Principal for three years), Robbinsdale, Osseo, and Bloomington.

 Principal Lindsey is hoping to bring a site council or similar parent-community advisory group to Hall. She also hopes to recreate elements of a “community school,” similar to the model being used in the Brooklyn Center Public Schools.

Principal Lindsey is hoping to bring a site council or similar parent-community advisory group to Hall. She also hopes to recreate elements of a “community school,” similar to the model being used in the Brooklyn Center Public Schools.

Why teach and what do you teach? I wanted to do something every day that would make me feel like I made a difference. My dad is an engineer and he had the same position his whole life and I would think “how boring,” but it was what certain generations did. For me, I wanted to explore different parts of teaching. I started out as a classroom teacher, but in Bloomington where I worked as a Youth and Family Coordinator, I really fell in love with communities where there is a need, doing home visits, doing things in community. I’ve also served as a community education coordinator, as a special education trainer, and intervention specialist. It’s been a weird trajectory of wanting to try different things that sort of meet up with my passion. I think, maybe over a decade ago, it crystalized for me. For me, it’s about making a difference and helping people navigate difference. That’s why I like being in roles outside of the classroom. We’re in a state where the racial achievement gap is greater than almost any other place in the country. I’ve wanted to engage folks in those discussions and those practices of dismantling those inequities.

Why Hall? I think I got to a point in my career where, as I said I worked in different districts, and I wanted to be engaged in racial equity work, you can get to a certain point and hit a wall. If they are not ready to have those conversations or not ready to act beyond having those conversations and deinstitutionalizing some of those structures. For me Minneapolis was very exciting with some of the work that I could see was happening, with what Superintendent Graff is doing and he is about, and what he is doing to dismantle some of those things. As well, I love being in communities where lots of dynamics are happening. Hall has a great legacy. This building has had a former superintendent as principal. This school has also had a great legacy in this neighborhood is very exciting for me to be a part of that.

What do you love about Hall? Kids and parents, no doubt. But also the staff. When I interviewed for this position, I was able to ask them what they loved most about Hall. Every single person spoke up and wanted to answer. Every person wanted to be here and loves being here. Each person loves the challenge, the complexity, and the beautiful brilliance of these children. It’s just an amazing community, a very small school in comparison to what I’m used to.

What is your teaching philosophy? Whether its teaching children that show up differently or parents that show up differently, in a way that is unfamiliar with staff, I want to help us understand how do we leverage difference as a form of prosperity rather than as a form of adversity. All students are whole beings and that is how they need to be approached.

North News launched this column to highlight the work of Northside educators doing innovative and socially just work in our North Minneapolis classrooms. If you have any recommendations for our upcoming spotlights, email North News at ciriens@ pillsburyunited.org. Please provide contact information for the person you recommend.

Cirien Saadeh