Si se puede is Spanish for yes it can be done! This phrase sometimes serves as inspiration for the Hispanic community when we need to come together and support and/or encourage each other. I find that my goal as a school leader—especially of a charter school—is to build community and then protect and defend that community.
I serve my community as the principal of an amazing public charter school in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. We are the landsharks! Our mission at Oceanside Collegiate Academy is to offer high school students elite academics and elite athletics in a safe, small, family-centered environment. We are in our fourth year of operation and enjoying the fruits of three years of extremely hard, life-consuming work.
My experience as an immigrant is a big part of who I am today. The skills I learned while adapting to another language and assimilating into another world as a young adult have been priceless. These lessons have led me to look at the world from an optimistic and appreciative perspective. The position of school leader can sometimes be a bit isolating and even at times a little lonely. Most immigrants will admit to never quite feeling at home ever again once leaving their homeland—I have found the phrase "you can’t go home again" to be so true!
All my life experiences have helped me in my work as a school leader, but especially my experience as an immigrant. Most days, I am the only Hispanic in a room or at the table—and the feelings that situation might bring would be easy to imagine for anyone who has or has not experienced them.
I am very proud and grateful of my Hispanic heritage and just as proud and super grateful to be a part of our amazing country. Every day I make a conscious effort to pay it forward a little and try to make it a little bit better for those who I can influence or help.
I’ve always wanted a big family—and now I finally have one! My school has become my family with 650 students, 1300 parents, and almost 40 fellow educators. They are mi familia through good days and bad days. I will fight for them as long as I have the power to do so.
Si se puede!
Brenda Lopez Corley is the principal of Oceanside Collegiate Academy in South Carolina.