Jean-Marie, G. (2010). ‘Fire in the belly’: Igniting a social justice discourse in learning environments of leadership preparation. In A. K. Tooms & C. Boske (Eds.), Bridge leadership: Connecting educational leadership and social justice to improve schools. (pp. 97-119). Charlotte, NC US: Information Age Publishing.
In this chapter, through an analysis of my evolution as an educator and scholar, I explore how I prepare educators, whether preservice teachers during graduate school or aspiring and practicing school leaders to engage social justice issues in a committed, sustained and creative way. This paper further discusses how I strive to ignite “fire in the belly” (Merchant & Shoho, 2006) in support of social justice as an educator and scholar (i.e., from my teaching experience in graduate school to a scholar in a leadership preparation program). For me, the fire in my belly for social justice started to evolve in my early educational experience as an immigrant to the United States and when I was searching for a path to pursue in my career trajectory. As a framework for this paper, I chronicle three periods that have been vital to my development as an intellectual and signify my profound commitment to social justice, the impetus for the fire in my belly. These include resistance, transformation and activism as pivotal to my formation as an educator and scholar. In the first period, resistance (i.e., resisting the call to teach), I focus on my early educational experience as an immigrant from Haiti and my initial exposure to teaching in an educational program. In the second period, transformation (i.e., toward emancipatory pedagogy), I discuss my encounter with Freire’s and other critical and feminist theorists’ writings and their influence on the fundamental philosophical base of my teaching. In the last period, activism (i.e., a social justice framework), I share how teaching for social justice is part of a quest to eradicate inequities in schools, a responsibility I could not abdicate after my doctoral graduate school experience. Further, to advance teaching for social justice as part of my activism, I consider how engaging in research is an integral part in my efforts to develop school leaders to meet the needs of all learners.
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