Early passion and family influence
Meet Alejandra Yuszcsyssyn, a mother of two girls and a primary school teacher who has been teaching since 1991. Alejandra or “Ale” for short is from Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is an excellent example of resilience and pursuing her dreams as she is now Vice Principal of a prestigious German school.
Ale is a teacher and that’s her passion in life. She always knew she wanted to become a teacher. Even as a child, she would organise playdates centred around playing teacher, mimicking school activities with her friends. This early passion for teaching is a testament to her unwavering dedication to her chosen vocation.
Her father played an important role in discovering her career. He was highly intelligent as he spoke Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish but had low self-esteem. He left without realising his potential. Perhaps that’s why Ale is so interested in helping young people discover their potential because her father never realised he was a precious gem due to his low self-confidence.
“Everything we discuss as educators about making children feel valued, awakening their vocations, and listening to them shape their entire lives. It’s an eternal challenge for young people to value themselves.”Alejandra Yuszcsyssyn
She believes teaching is a vocation and is proud to be a teacher, as she sees it as a central role in society. Education is the foundation of a strong society, and Ale believes providing quality education in her school, her locality, her province, her country, and the world is important. She has noticed that the appreciation of teachers in the world is changing over time.
From teacher to leader
Ale’s teaching path entails work in various settings, including public and religious schools, across different grade levels. Her experience in classrooms enriched her greatly. Since 2006, Ale has been working at her current school. Starting with first grade, she embraced the challenge and taught it for seven years.
Recognising her leadership skills, Ale was appointed teacher in charge when the principal was absent. She was always active.
Her first principal said, “You are committed to education. You will become a principal.”
Since 2012, Ale has been in a management role, boasting a total of 11 years of experience. Initially filling in as a substitute, Ale was later offered the position of vice principal when it became vacant. Recognising her lack of training, she researched and trained to acquire the necessary management skills.
She thought, “Being a good teacher doesn’t necessarily mean being a good principal.”
She always liked to further her education, so she enrolled in any course she came across. During the pandemic, she started training with the Varkey Foundation because she felt she didn’t have enough tools for virtual teaching.
Challenges and rewards
Last year, Keisha Thorpe, who won the Global Teacher Prize 2021, visited Argentina. Ale was invited by a journalist friend named Maria Julia Mastromarino to join her for an interview with Keisha. Ale, being in education and knowing English, agreed to assist. After the online interview, Ale expressed her wish to have coffee with Keisha. They talked about the education system, which led to an invitation to speak at a conference called G.E.T. SUMMIT in Jamaica about educational quality. This opportunity opened doors for her, as other paths and people began to trust her.
The most important skill Ale had to develop was leadership. In management and in life, everything is about leading and managing. She believes it’s a very important skill that she practices all the time. In her job, she has to develop leadership and tools. Also, in family and with friends, being a good leader means being flexible, empathetic, and listening more than speaking. These are all skills a good leader should have, and if you don’t have them, you should work on them. The concept of leadership has changed over the years, coming from a different perspective.
She finds it challenging when she encounters leaders who are just senior staff, lacking leadership qualities. It’s been many years of intense work, and she doesn’t accept a boss without leadership. Knowledge is another characteristic of a leader, but that can be learned. However, if you don’t have the tools of a good leader, it’s difficult for your team to follow you toward a common goal.
Ale believes success is tied to emotional wellbeing, working with passion, spreading enthusiasm, and earning her daughters’ admiration. Speaking in Jamaica, her daughters, Sol and Luciana wrote, “Mum, you did it, we admire you.” This made her feel successful. Her success is further driven by colleagues’ recognition, overcoming challenges with perseverance and friends, having a job, good health, and healthy relationships. Stepping out of her comfort zone and overcoming insecurity also contribute to her success.
While successful, Ale has faced challenges, like sustaining herself during moments of emotional weakness. Managing school responsibilities weighed heavily on her, and she felt guilty for not fulfilling her duties.
“Gradually, with the help of colleagues and family, I managed to stay afloat and connected with the positive aspects of life.”Alejandra Yuszcsyssyn
The challenges she faced were not just personal. When it came to her school, she had to contend with how to instill enthusiasm and a desire among teachers to continue to improve. This has proved complicated because teachers in Argentina work many hours and sometimes lack time for training.
One of Alejandra’s most significant achievements was being invited to speak at the conference of the G.E.T.SUMMIT 2023 in Jamaica. This opportunity allowed her to share her insights on quality leadership with thousands of teachers from different backgrounds and cultures. It was a rewarding experience that further solidified her belief in the transformative power of education.
What Ale loves the most about T4 Communities is that it has connected her with important people, not because of titles, but people with rich cultural backgrounds. Learning that there are really complex situations and that many people believe education is the path to transforming lives. It gave her a boost of enthusiasm. There are many people who believe education is the best means to improve society, and every child deserves trained teachers and committed principals.
In conclusion, Ale’s journey in education has been characterised by her unwavering dedication to her students and her continuous quest for personal and professional growth. She has embraced challenges, stepped out of her comfort zone, and developed her leadership skills to make a positive impact in the education sector. Her passion for teaching, coupled with her strong belief in the transformative power of education, has driven her to go above and beyond for her students and colleagues.