Dr. LaKesha Brackins is the Deputy Superintendent of Mobile County Public Schools (MCPSS), the largest and oldest school system in the State of Alabama. With 53,000 students and 8,000 employees, MCPSS is the largest employer in Mobile County. Growing up in a family of educators, it was no surprise that Dr. Brackins chose to become an educator and that she has since served in the field of education for 23 years. Before becoming deputy superintendent, she worked as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, and assistant superintendent. Dr. Brackins received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Troy University and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Auburn University.
Tell us why you chose your profession and about the value it brings to you and/or the community.
Since a very young age, I have always wanted to teach. I remember being excited to get out of school each day to go home and “play” school. Teaching has always been my passion. I’m from a family of educators, and the importance of a good education has always been at the forefront of my thinking and my desire to help others. As an educator, it is so rewarding to know that I am now giving back to the community what was given to me, a sound education, which is paramount to my successes today.
What advice or suggestions can you give to women walking the path of empowerment or struggling with self-doubt?
In life, we all will have struggles and challenges. As strong women, we must persevere and not allow struggles to define us. At the end of the day, it isn’t what you endured that matters; it’s how you responded. At the end of each of our journeys, we will all have “scars.” We should be thankful for our scars because they tell our journey and detail how we have triumphed and become successful through it all. Scars signify trials and tribulations, but most importantly, confidence in ourselves and our paths to success.
Was there a moment for you that was a game-changer, and can you tell us about it?
I have had several game-changers. However, professionally, there was one moment that truly tested my confidence in myself and abilities. This moment was when I did not receive a position that I thought I should have received. In this moment, I realized the position was not intended for me and that things do not always go as I think they should. However, I believe there is a reason for everything. Even though this moment tested my endurance and determination, it made me even stronger and more resilient. After all was said and done, looking back, instead of being upset, I should have known to keep pressing forward for better things would come to fruition, and they did. I learned many lessons from this game-changer, but the biggest lesson was that things work in accordance with HIS plan for our lives, not OUR plans.
How important has education and/or continuing education been to you?
Considering I chose education for a career, continuing education has always been very important to me. Once I reached one level, I would always desire to achieve the next level in my education. I consider myself a lifelong learner. Being an educational leader doesn’t mean simply managing people. It means being able to lead people. In order to do this effectively, it is necessary to have a balance between pedagogical knowledge and practical knowledge. My father, who has since passed, would always tell me growing up that he wanted to have a doctor in the family. Therefore, with my desire to accomplish all challenges, I would not settle in my educational journey until receiving my terminal degree, a Ph.D., not just for myself, but for my father.
How important are relationships/networking to your personal and professional life?
Effective relationships are an integral part of our personal and professional lives. Leaders MUST be able to foster positive relationships with a diverse group of people. As a leader, you never know when you will have to call upon others. This is one reason why relationships are important. If people do not trust you, they will not follow you. Trust is not given; it is earned. Throughout the process of building relationships, trust is earned. Once trust is earned and relationships are established, great things can and will transpire.
You seem to really love what you do, tell us why:
I love what I do because I am able to help mold future generations of intelligent, strong, and determined women. At the end of the day, if I can say that I know I have impacted the lives of others, I will be both intrinsically and extrinsically satisfied.
“In life, we all will have struggles and challenges. As strong women, we must persevere and not allow struggles to define us. At the end of the day, it isn’t what you endured that matters; it’s how you responded.”
What/who inspires you?
I am inspired by seeing diverse women in leadership roles making a difference not just within my community, but throughout the nation. Growing up, strong, positive, women leaders were not as prevalent as they are today. Today, women are definitely on the rise and making a positive impact on today’s society. Just watching women on the rise is all the inspiration I need to continue being motivated to give my all each and every day.
How do you take care of yourself everyday so that you stay balanced and centered?
Staying balanced and centered is an integral part of being an effective leader. I had to learn the hard way the importance of “turning off,” even though it is very difficult. I am a very driven person who strives for excellence in all that I do. This often means working long hours, sometimes “forgetting” to even eat. But after realizing this wasn’t best for many reasons, I learned to find a balance. That balance for me is working out as much as possible while listening to a good book or music.