Brooke East Boston Principal, Elza Mathieu
When asked about her favorite memory, our Brooke East Boston Principal Elza Mathieu reminisced nostalgically about her first-ever all community meeting at Brooke for Black History Month. Elza also reflected on her time at Brooke and told us about the truths of her growth, why she does the work, and how it all comes back to our kids.
ELZA’S GROWTH AT BROOKE
“Being in this environment felt like it was a place that served our Black and Brown children.”
Coming from a family of educators, Elza applied to Brooke because it was recommended to her by a close family friend. Looking back at the application process, Elza emphasized the impact of her interview. She had observed a class, and remembers thinking she was amazed by the scholars. Due to the high expectations that were held for students in this classroom, she did not even realize that they were kindergarteners. She loved how visiting every Brooke classroom reaffirmed Brooke’s community values.
Soon after, Elza started at Brooke in 2008 as a Kindergarten Associate Teacher. Since then, she has taught as a lead classroom teacher for five years and has been a Dean of Students as well. Elza loves teaching, but knew she had to take the Assistant Principal (AP) role when it became available in 2016. After two years of leading as an AP, Elza started her current role as Principal at Brooke East Boston.
Elza also spoke about how Brooke invests in the growth of their teachers. Tough, open, honest feedback helped her excel as an educator at Brooke. She was able to be candid about what she wanted to improve and had various opportunities to work on those things – whether it was coaching a teacher, being in the classroom, or leading her team.
“As long as you are somebody that wants to work hard and grow, there are opportunities at Brooke to do so,” Elza said, describing Brooke’s commitment to making their teachers great through ongoing growth.
In a world where our educators are predominantly white, Elza emphasized the way she runs school culture as a Black woman in education, which means being vocal about the “whys”. Elza said she is open and honest with her team about how microaggressions, racism, bias, and more impact the work we do.
“Our differences are beautiful, and we need to use them as a way to empower our students and affirm them to be who they are.”
When she moved from the classroom to leadership, Elza felt she could have more of an impact on children by supporting teachers. This didn’t mean that she was going to remove herself from the classroom completely, however. Whether it is helping in lesson planning, tutoring students, or observing the classroom, Elza prioritizes remaining as close as possible to teaching.
“Staying connected to the work is how I can give feedback to the teachers who I support.”
Looking back on her time at Brooke, Elza described her trajectory in a few words, “I am in education for the kids”. Whether she is in the classroom, mentoring, or leading – Elza knows that the culture here supports Brooke scholars to be exceptional. Brooke is a community where she feels like she belongs.