096: Empowering women in education through a membership – with ElevatED

Monique Achu and Nadia Lopez are the founders of ElevatEd, a boutique firm that focuses on empowering women in education. In this episode, they join Ward to discuss how they inspire and support women in education by being authentic and empathetic.

✍️ Show Notes

📄 Show Transcript

This transcript is computer generated, please excuse any errors 🙂

Ward Sandler: Hi, Monique and Nadia. Welcome to the Membership Maker. We’re happy to have you.

Monique Achu: Hi there, Ward!

Ward Sandler: All right. ElevatEd is a boutique firm that offers a program that focuses on personal development and sustainability for women. How long have you been doing, ElevatEd for?

Nadia Lopez: I want to say we started 2017 after we went to Michelle Obama’s Becoming Bookstore, we came up with the concept.

Ward Sandler: That’s great. That’s great. And it’s just the two of you, right?

Monique Achu: Yes. It’s us, the dynamic duo.[00:00:53]

Ward Sandler: Awesome. In terms of empowering people, right? Like that seems to be like a big part of what ElevatEd is about. So could you kind of describe, who you focused on, who are you trying to empower? And why are you passionate about that?

Monique Achu: Well, Being two women of color that is our first priority because we understand the challenges we face, the struggles we endure. And we see it within our own communities, our own family. So first and foremost, we look and seek to empower women of color because we’ve been there. We’ve stand in those shoes. We understand the work, we understand the weight that we carry as being those people. And then our secondary kind of focus as far as empowering is because as Nadia shared before we started a school, so we also understand this education space and that’s when we initially decided to do ElevatEd, there was a lot of talk around educators pour a lot into other people, but we don’t put anything into ourselves, which we experience working in a school, founding a school, and being there from 6:00 AM to sometimes midnight. We’re giving everything to children in the community and we are giving nothing to ourselves. Like how do we start to let educators know that you need to pour into yourself. Yes, the education is important. It’s important to empower children, but what about, what could you do? How do you stay encouraged? How do you refuel? So that way you can continue to. Help children that you continue to help parents, you can continue to help your community. So those things are so important when we speak about being ElevatEd, raising up out of the trenches for air to breathe, to figure out how you feed yourself, to continue on is so important. I don’t know if you want to add Nadia to that.

Nadia Lopez: You know, it just came down to personal development and sustainability. And that’s something that in our industry, people don’t talk about, because everyone has looked as the teacher to just provide the knowledge to kids. And then what we see what happened with COVID is that when schools weren’t in session, parents were really like, oh my God, I didn’t realize how much goes into teaching kids every single day or it, and it’s like, yes, this is what happens. And, unfortunately for me, I literally ended up having to resign from my position after opening the school and being the principal for 10 years. And it actually was like, that was the whole purpose of doing elevated to avoid that happening to me. But again, I was pouring into people and still no one was doing outside of Monique, but there was no recognition of how hard I was working and how much I had depleted myself. And I would always say I was a functioning burnout. And so that’s why ElevatEd came to be, because I was like, if this is happening to me, I know this is happening to so many other educators and no one ever gives us the space to say we’re not okay. No one’s giving us the tools to pivot and think about other things that we could be doing, whether it’s within our own industry. Or thinking about what else can our skills be applicable to? So when we created the conference, it was amazing and it was everything we could imagine. And then I got sick and I literally, it took a year, almost a year and a half for me to recuperate, like literally getting my self back in order if you will. That’s been the crux of it. So as a result of that, now this is why we do the courses. So we started out with the conferences, but then it was a matter of how can we educate people and provide them with what they need to be free and liberated. So that’s where the Roadmap to Freedom came from. And then within the Roadmap to Freedom was this idea around visioning and how people, if you don’t have a vision. You don’t have anything to aspire to. And so do they even understand the process of doing that because you have to really deal with yourself. So then we created the Visioning course, and so every single time that we’re just reflective of where we’re at, but how we can be of service to others, we then craft something new. We’re very responsive in that way and we’re very intentional. About what we’re providing, because we get it. We live that life and, you know, to give up something that you truly truly love for us. Now, this is really our online university. That’s what we decided to turn it into. So we don’t have a brick and mortar school anymore. We’re now using this space as our school of knowledge for women of color who are leaders who are in education, but we we’ve had people in other industries as well.

Ward Sandler: Yeah, no, that’s, that’s super powerful stuff. Thanks for sharing that. I mean, as difficult as that sounds like it was to go through, there’s nothing like firsthand experience, especially if you’re trying to help other people to avoid it. You’re not not talking about in theory or, you know, I think this is what people need to figure out. It’s like, you’ve lived it, you’ve been through it. So you’re going to be the best one to teach how to avoid it for others. So that’s the silver lining, I guess. And it’s wonderful to empower yourself that way. To make the best of that situation. Um, and also kind of reminds me when you were talking before about how your teachers are, who one of the hardest professions in America, at least for sure. In terms of being underpaid, overworked, all the stuff that, you know, especially teachers definitely know. My aunt’s a special needs teacher, so I’ve kind of heard some of that, some of that stuff as well. It’s definitely a challenge. But it reminds me of like when you’re in an airplane, right. And then they always talk about when the air mask oxygen mask comes down, you gotta put it on yourself first. Even if you have a kid, right. Which feels counterintuitive, but it’s like, if you’re not alive, you can’t help your kid. If you’re burned out as a teacher, you can’t teach anyone. So you need to take care of yourself first.

Nadia Lopez: So to that point again, this is why elevate it was important because one of the things Monique and I just spoke about this week was, people always give that metaphor of you have to use your gas mask, right? Like if something happens, you have to use your gas mask. And my question was when has anyone actually showed us what that looks like every single time you get on a plane, you think to yourself, oh my God, they’re showing us this again. But that’s because you don’t know how to, like, you need to be taught how to use it. You have to be reminded. So when someone is literally saying to me, For the past 10 years, put your gas mask on. I’m like, did they even ask me, do I know what to do? I don’t know how not to be on all the time. I don’t know how to meditate. I don’t know how to do yoga. I don’t know. I had to learn all those things by literally getting sick. And so that’s what we’re doing. We’re literally teaching people how to put a gas mask on so that they can ride not just survive.

Ward Sandler: Yeah. Like w where do you start? Right. It’s like, assume nothing. Like what’s day one, hour one, minute one, where are we starting? And I think that’s really smart to do it that way? It’s one of those things for teachers. They just, they don’t have a lot of bandwidth, so it’s great that you’re able to create these events where it’s like, all right, it’s a one-off thing. You can do it, get some value. And then I assume the point of the events is to sort of apply it then? Until maybe the next event. And then kind of build on that over time. That’s wonderful. All right. Well, Monique and Nadia, I really appreciate you coming on the Membership maker, really, really great stuff. Could you share with the audience a little bit more about ElevatEd in terms of if they want to learn more about ElevatEd, learn more about you, where should they go?

Monique Achu: Yeah, you can visit us on Instagram at @ElevatEdBlk. We’re also on Facebook at the same address. Then there’s our website where you can look at enrolling for classes, programs, which is www.elevatedblk.com. And if you want to send us an email for anything, you have questions [email protected] is the email. So we are there and we’d love to hear from those who are interested in personal development and sustainability,

Nadia Lopez: And we have an amazing merchant line also.

Monique Achu: Oh, yes! We do.

Nadia Lopez: For those who are considering, or maybe are already in MemberSpace, it’s has made life for us easier. And so we do appreciate it. And this is not like we’re getting paid for this, it’s not advertisement whatsoever, but I think it’s important because the thing that we we spoke about is that everyone wants to be perfect, right? And you don’t have to be perfect, but you need tools that are gonna make your life a little bit easier. So MemberSpace has allowed us to be imperfect and everything else, but we perfectly get that money. So we appreciate that.

Ward Sandler: Excellent. Well, thanks again!