With 25 years of experience in education, Yumi Kawasaki is the proud principal at Edwin Markham Middle School in Watts. Hailing from a family of educators in Mexico, Yumi’s path to becoming a principal was not linear. “I like to say it chose me,” she explains. Initially, she ventured into the field of psychology, thinking that was her calling. However, it was when she delved into community service and began working with schools that she found her true passion. Yumi intended to teach for a few years while pursuing a master’s degree, but she quickly fell in love with the profession and obtained her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration.
When asked about her hopes for the students at Markham when they leave the school, Yumi shared, “I want my students to walk away with beautiful memories of love and support from the staff at Markham, and the tools necessary to choose a positive path in life.” Her vision for the students goes beyond academic success because she wants them to leave inspired. She hopes to instill values that will guide them to become responsible, compassionate, and community-oriented citizens.
Yumi’s journey intersected with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (Partnership) in 2015. She was working in East Los Angeles at one of the feeder schools for Stevenson College and Career Preparatory. Since then, being part of the Partnership network has had a profound impact on her work as a principal. Yumi states, “I see and feel the presence of Partnership staff at my school site. I know who I can reach out to for different levels of support.”
As the Partnership celebrates its 15th anniversary, Yumi reflects on the support she’s received. “I feel the impact of Partnership on a daily basis. As a leader, it feels as if I have someone walking alongside me when things get tough.” This ongoing support has bolstered her ability to navigate the challenges that come with leading a school, ensuring that her students receive the best education possible.
Looking forward, Yumi envisions a bright future for her school and the Partnership. “The evolution of the Partnership has been one that aligns with my social justice beliefs. I would love to see the work spread across more schools and in alignment with non-Partnership schools.” Yumi’s journey from psychology to education, her vision for the students, and her collaboration with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools serve as an inspiring testament to the transformative potential of educators who are committed to making a difference in their communities.