Erica Bauer never set out to be an educator, let alone an education leader or a Surge Fellow.
Her journey to school leadership came through discovering her true passion, and her journey to Surge came from a desire to connect with leaders who looked like her.
Erica designs systems of support as the Director of Student Engagement of a multicultural high school in the heart of Chicago – Walter Payton College Preparatory Academy – ranked the 2nd best high school in Illinois, according to US News and World Report.
Erica has been asked why she wanted to become a Surge Fellow when she was already a leader at one of the best schools in the state. She says it has to do with learning how to move beyond the deficit-based culture she grew up in so that she could become a stronger leader for her students.
“I feel like, coming into Surge, it was no longer the exception to the rule,” Erica said. “Surge says black excellence is the rule. That was very healing for me because I was coming into contact with my own self-hatred that had developed in me over the years as the result of this deficit mentality I had been taught to carry.”
Erica Bauer defines herself as an analyst, artist and activist.
She is a recovering military brat, now based in Chicago, whose travels led to her “multicultural moment” — one must serve the whole person, mind, body, spirit, while embracing one’s multiple, co-existing identities. Erica works to ensure that no student receives the whitewashed education she received as the only African-American woman in her master’s and doctoral programs.