Myisha Rodrigues’ approach to making education more just is at once both innovative and inclusive. Her aim is to work with organizations to bring a holistic approach to staff sustainability.
In practice, she looks at all of the parts of a system, and all of the people that are part of the system, with a focus on the experiences of Black educators and how they are impacted by the racial and social dynamics in their workplace.
By bringing a broad, holistic, and critically conscious perspective to supporting staff, Myisha’s work is at the forefront of her field. She credits Lesley’s doctoral program in Counseling & Psychology with further equipping her with the theory, knowledge, and tools to bring her approach to organizations in need.
For years, Myisha worked as a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), working with individual clients, while also facilitating professional development workshops locally, nationally, and internationally.
“I really enjoyed and had a knack for working with individual people and helping them heal from a holistic, whole-person perspective and approach,” she says.
Through jobs in the non-profit and educational sectors, she began researching how she could have a wider impact. It was this exploring that expanded her passion for healing individuals to healing and developing organizations. She realized she wanted to drive the ways education organizations respond to questions of staff well-being and justice while also influencing organizational and program development.
“I began to look at systems, departments, and organizations with a holistic perspective and approach.”
Ultimately, Myisha wondered if she could make an impact at an organizational level by applying similar techniques that are used to help individuals. If she could, she realized she’d be able to help more people—especially those in marginalized groups.
With the drive to advance her career and a number of research interests, Myisha started looking for a doctoral program that “fit where I was professionally and would help me grow. Lesley’s program was the perfect fit.” Not only did it align with her research goals and personal values, it also had a trauma-informed lens and it threaded social justice throughout its curriculum.
“The program just really resonates with how I'm growing and developing. This journey really redefined what research meant to me and what being a researcher and a scholar meant for me.”
Myisha didn’t necessarily anticipate research being so engaging, but it gave her an opportunity to amplify the voices of her participants and to shape the narrative on organizational interventions. And through her research, she was able to bring a trauma-sensitive perspective that helped create a restorative experience for those involved.
“It was really important for me to amplify and create space for the voices that tend not to be heard. And it's usually the folks on the ground doing the work.”
In her research, Myisha found that scholars had devoted time to understanding the student experience within an educational organization. Vital work, asserts Myisha. But she saw an opportunity to bring in the experiences of Black educators to compliment that work.
“For me, part of being equitable means looking at all of the parts of the system, and all of the people that are part of the system,” says Myisha.
Her experience as a Black woman leader and educator allowed her to make connections and develop a more comprehensive understanding of Black public-school educators.
“I see myself as leveraging an opportunity and leveraging resources for folks to create their own knowledge and understanding of their experience and to share that with me.”
Myisha’s hope is to redesign and reimagine how people look at educational systems. By telling the full story of everyone involved, she’ll be able shape people’s perspectives of what’s equitable across the board for educators and students alike.
Making good on her research
Myisha’s role as the Managing Director of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Through College and Career in Massachusetts lets her have the broad perspective needed to help shape an organization. Every day, she utilizes the knowledge she’s gained through her research in her role managing the high school, college, and career transitions of KIPP’s students. She’s even implemented a specialized well-being program model and leads a regional “Healing & Well-Being” initiative to bring a trauma-sensitive and healing-centered practice to the four KIPP MA public charter schools.
Her experience at Lesley informs her work at KIPP. She impacts the organization at all levels, as an active member of the senior leadership team, as a partner with school leaders, and as a collaborator with other KIPP leaders and practitioners from across the nation.
Of course, she also thinks about new ways she can continue her work. “I definitely would like to launch a consulting practice, where I can make available and leverage this framework, this organizational intervention that I've been developing.” A consulting practice would help her reach her goal of helping many more organizations heal and become more equitable for everyone involved.
Learn more about Lesley's PhD in Counseling and Psychology
Our doctoral program in Counseling Psychology: Transformative Leadership, Education, and Applied Research is a 48-credit program offered in a convenient, weekend model, starting each Fall. Apply today and get started on your path toward advancing social justice, mental health, and inclusive communities.