Cynthia Mruczek

Cynthia Mruczek Cynthia has a passion for teaching and working with school leaders and teachers as they address issues of equity in schools. As the Assistant Director of NIUSI-LeadScape, she works closely with principals and teachers to engage in professional learning that leads to making schools inclusive of all students. Cynthia worked as a teacher in elementary and middle schools in Phoenix for thirteen years before deciding to continue her learning at Arizona State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy.

I stumbled upon an amazing opportunity a few months ago. One that I’m sure many teachers wish would present itself at some point after their career in the classroom is over. I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office when a young woman approached me slowly and said, “Excuse me, but is your name Ms. M?” I was startled at first, mainly because in my current position at the Equity Alliance, Ms. M isn’t typically how I’m addressed. As soon as I made eye contact with this young woman, I recognized the fifth grader in her. Granted, she looked very different, but her eyes were the same. I responded, “Yes, I’m Ms. M. Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry, but I can’t remember your name. I know it starts with a C!” (I also remembered that she was a fantastic writer. Those of you who are teachers may be familiar with the strange phenomenon where you remember weird bits of detail about past students.) She smiled and reminded me that her name is Carolynn. Carolynn had been a student in my fifth grade classroom in 2001 (a more significant detail that I’ll share later.) We talked a few more minutes and exchanged phone numbers, as well as a promise of getting together for coffee in the next few weeks. Later, I marveled at the fact that 1) I remembered her, 2) SHE remembered ME, and 3) perhaps most importantly, I’d get the opportunity to sit with a former student and talk about her life then and now. This conversation solidified for me what being “culturally responsive” is all about. Read more

Cynthia Mruczek Cynthia has a passion for teaching and working with school leaders and teachers as they address issues of equity in schools. As the Assistant Director of NIUSI-LeadScape, she works closely with principals and teachers to engage in professional learning that leads to making schools inclusive of all students. Cynthia worked as a teacher in elementary and middle schools in Phoenix for thirteen years before deciding to continue her learning at Arizona State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Recently, I’ve taken on new endeavors that have opened my eyes to things I haven’t noticed before…namely the power and privilege that is associated with being a white person and the marginalization I sometimes experience as a lesbian. I grew up as a relatively privileged person and I still am in many ways. I come from a middle class home, with both parents as career professionals who possess graduate degrees. Thinking back on my childhood, I can’t even remember a time that I felt marginalized. Even as a tomboy who would rather play touch-football than have to even LOOK at Barbies, I rarely felt like I didn’t fit in. Maybe I was just oblivious, but this indicates to me that privilege was certainly present in my life. You don’t think about privilege when you have it, only when you don’t. Read more