Porter’s lesson: Don’t settle

Monique Porter, assistant principal, has dedicated so much of her time within her years at Homestead towards assisting students and staff so that they could overcome their issues. Speaking on how important it is to focus on what one can control when challenged, Porter explains how critical it is to do what you can to benefit a situation. ”When there is nothing you can do about a situation or challenge, for your own mental health and self care you have to learn to let it go and let it be,” Porter said.

Sofia Grbic

Monique Porter, assistant principal, has dedicated so much of her time within her years at Homestead towards assisting students and staff so that they could overcome their issues. Speaking on how important it is to focus on what one can control when challenged, Porter explains how critical it is to do what you can to benefit a situation. ”When there is nothing you can do about a situation or challenge, for your own mental health and self care you have to learn to let it go and let it be,” Porter said.

As she meets the eyes of individuals within the sea of students flooding the halls, a sense of fulfillment flows through her veins as she envisions the bountiful opportunities that lie ahead of each and every single one. Not a trace of doubt pollutes her mind when she overlooks the eager and bustling crowd of shuffling feet; rather, a feeling of warmth washes over her — she is certain that every student has a purpose, and she will stop at nothing to make sure she guides them to attempt to accomplish it.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Monique Porter, assistant principal, has had first-hand experience with what it feels like to encounter the disheartening disparagement of biases when deciding to pursue her dreams. “As a black woman, I have experienced bias, (including implicit bias) against me since I was a little girl growing up in the inner city and attending predominantly white schools,” Porter explained.
Developing into who she is currently, Porter has had to teach herself the significance of self-establishing her worth instead of relying on the comments of others to do so. “These biases continued on as I entered the workforce, and I still experience them today,” she continued. “However, despite these experiences, I have learned that people are entitled to their opinions… but they do not determine my value or affect my dedication to my craft.”
Porter has devoted an immense amount of her time towards the greater good for the future generation throughout her life so far. Her route to her current second year as an administrator at Homestead began with her as a paraprofessional for three years at Gaenslen Elementary School in Milwaukee. Soon after her time spent there, she became a special education teacher and remained devoutly fidelic to that position for the next decade, assisting young individuals with her unwavering dedication.
While her time and energy assisting hundreds of people has been a large part of her life, the quality of this time spent is what she has valued the most. “The best advice I have ever received is to listen with the intent to understand rather than to respond… active listening is very different from just listening,” Porter elucidated.
With an open ear and an open heart, Porter has gained insight into the lives of the many young people she has conversed with. “I believe our youth struggle with many different obstacles such as mental health, anxiety, difficult home lives, etc. These obstacles make them feel as though they are not in control of their future and that they have to settle,” she explained.
Speaking to the generation of teens who may feel that their bright future is darkened by clouds, Porter speaks to them as she would have spoken to the young girl she was who chose to persist regardless of the stormy times she encountered. “If I could, I would remind all students that they don’t have to settle. They are all worthy and despite the obstacles, they are facing, they are deserving and can too have a bright future,” Porter said. “I would tell them that they all have a story and no matter how their story started, they have an opportunity to determine the way their story ends.”
Aside from academics, Porter shares how much of her love for her position is rooted within the warmth she feels observing as students progress both vocationally and socially as well. With the intention for all of her students to continue down a road to achievement, Porter explains how the importance of steering students into a pragmatic direction can often heavily lie in the hands of teachers.
“I believe that every student has a purpose and a path to their success. It is my job, as well as the duty of other educators to help students down that path, and when they make a wrong turn on their path, we have to be there to help guide them back in the right direction,” she continued.
Keeping the progression towards a more equal future a priority, Porter explains how necessary it is to empower women to receive an education and normalize women continuing on to initiate their own businesses, ideas, and innovations so that they can continue to be an expanding part of the ever-changing society and so they can be representational figures for other young women to follow suit.
“I genuinely feel the world needs to continue to work to promote and provide the same opportunities for young ladies and women as they do for young men and men,” Porter said. “I also believe that schools should help further the advancement of female rights and teach the youth more about equality by bringing awareness to the inequalities. Teachers could assign novels, have classroom discussions and engage students in various other activities centered around female rights.”
Though her influence has benefitted the lives of so many students and people alike, Porter reveals how monumental her experiences have been in enlightening her own life. “I feel empowered as a woman when I mentor young ladies and I am able to share my experiences and provide guidance and advice that helps them to overcome challenges that they are facing,” she said. “When I am able to help students, it makes me feel as though I am fulfilling my purpose on this earth.”
Michaela Fraley, English teacher and coworker of Porter applauds her on her impact on the school’s work environment. “What makes Monique Porter so incredible is how approachable she is. I can have honest conversations with her and come out feeling like I have a solution.” Fraley said. However, with her admired qualities of helpfulness towards others through her assiduity and diligence, the apple certainly does not fall far from the tree.
Minnie Cobbs, Porter’s mother, raised her as a single parent, juggling several jobs and the needs of her family all at once throughout Porter’s childhood. “She instilled in me the importance of having good character and getting an education… her consistent presence, encouragement, and investment in my life has been a significant influence on the woman I am today,” Porter shared.
As a prominent figure in the lives of so many young girls today, Porter’s encouragement mirrors the woman her young eyes repeatedly looked up to in years past. Porter passionately expresses how important it is to ‘go for it’ even if that means being the one person floating against the current. “Just because the world doesn’t recognize your talents and abilities, does not mean you give up on your dreams and aspirations! As women, we must go get what we want, despite the obstacles we face,” Porter said. “We are enough and we are capable and we are worthy.”

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