Helping Kids Feel Like They Belong

Xavier Reed always appreciated the mentoring relationships he built on the basketball court – both as a player and coach.

So, perhaps it isn’t surprising that the young business professional decided to pursue a second career in education after working in the corporate world.

This fall, Reed was named principal at Central Middle School in Wayzata, Minn. The role came after he spent the last seven years with the Mounds View Public School District, where he most recently served as the associate principal for Irondale High School.

“It’s always fun to interact with the kids,” he says. “This is a time in their lives when it’s important to have great mentors, role models and supporters. So many of our students need it.”

But before he became an educator, he worked at Target Corporation.

“My experience in the business world helps me in the way I lead,” he says. “I’m making sure we’re collaborating, sharing ideas, being mindful of different perspectives. Teamwork is very important to me.”

Reed earned a bachelor of arts degree in communication studies with minors in leadership and business administration from MSUM. His sophomore year he transferred to MSUM because he wanted to play basketball closer to his family who lived in the Twin Cities metro area. 

In addition to playing basketball, he was president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

While at MSUM, Reed built lifelong friendships with other players and coaches. He thrived by learning lessons on the court. More importantly, he felt welcomed and part of the community.

During his summers, he pursued internships. The last one – at Target headquarters – turned into a full-time job offer as a business analyst before he started his senior year.

“I had a job – a great opportunity ­– waiting for me,” he says. “It was something I was excited about.”

But a year into the job, Reed began to reflect more deeply about what he wanted to accomplish in his professional life. He coached his younger sister’s AAU basketball team and recognized that he cherished those interactions. He decided to look for a job in a school setting to influence youth.

That search brought him to Mounds View Public Schools, where he started as an equity specialist at Edgewood Middle School. He advocated for underserved students and families and served as a resource for teachers.

“That experience shed light on why education is important and how life-changing it can be,” Reed says.

Encouraged by his school principal, Reed pursued a graduate degree in educational leadership and administration and his principal licensure.

The need for teachers and administrators of color is high, Reed says. Minnesota has one of the least diverse teaching forces in the country.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, only 4 percent of the state’s teacher workforce identify as teachers of color or American Indian teachers, whereas 34 percent of students identify as students of color or American Indian students.

As a principal, Reed’s goal is to channel the sense of belonging he felt at MSUM. He wants his staff, students and families to feel welcome in the building and to feel supported. He wants to build a strong community.

 “I tell our parents and staff that we are blessed to work in this profession,” he says. “We get to impact every other profession; future doctors, lawyers, dentists and teachers are in our building now.”

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