We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachelle Archer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachelle, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
People are my greatest source of inspiration, especially these three: artists, my colleagues in the field of education, and our students. Artists inspire me. Since I was a child, they have left me in awe. My grandmother was a painter, poet, and story teller, my mother a singer and pianist. I grew up surrounded by musicians, dancers, and perfomers. From an early age they taught me to notice the beauty around me, to revel in the rhythm of words and sounds, to use my voice for good, and to make the unique marks that only I can make. They taught me to be myself while also being in community. Artists continually take me for a walk in others’ shoes and help me see things from different perspectives. Artists help me heal, take back my humanity, and share it with others. They push me to be visionary and live in a world of what’s possible rather than whatever limiting circumstances I might find myself today. Educators inspire me. Great teachers, like artists, guide us to explore new worlds inside and out.Their hard work comes from a deep well of devotion to their students, their craft and their discipline. They see raw potential and create the conditions for it to blossom. They are driven to see their students succeed and will go to great lengths to reach each and every one. When they share their passions, they light up the classroom. They light up minds and hearts. They change the world through the young people whose lives they touch. Students inspire me. There is nothing like witnessing a young person transform. We educators have a vision of what they can be, but that moment when THEY see their own potential is pure magic. When a child has a moment of awakening, when they suddenly discover their spark and begin to tap into their personal power, it’s as if nothing can stop them. A storyteller I recently featured on my Artful Leadership podcast shared a quote with me from the Aimara people of South America, “The past is in front of us and the future is behind us.” She explained that our elders and ancesters, “the past” , walk ahead of us. The children, “the future”, walk behind us. They are the future that comes after us. My inspiration comes from those artists, educators, and students all investing in the the world our children will create after we’re gone.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business, Artful Leadership Coaching & Consulting, was born out of 25 + years of working with youth, families, and staff in high stress/ high trauma settings in social services, juvenile justice, and education. It’s a coming together of all the skills and practices I’ve developed over the years that: -Help young people heal and learn, -Build a strong community culture that sustains students and staff through challenging times, -And support staff to stay out of burn out and overwhelm so that they can accomplish their mission effectively and sustainably. This past year has been traumatic for everyone. Educators and students have had a particularly rough time during the pandemic. I’m passionate about helping leaders in organizations and schools prioritize their own well-being so that they can lead with a full tank and build a healing-centered culture with that will get students and staff through this stressful time. I am excited to support those who know that students and staff have to feel safe, secure, and connected in order to teach and learn. I offer coaching, consulting & thought partnership to leaders, and training, professional development, and group coaching to teams, and host monthly self-care spaces for educators where we role model the practices that work best with young people. What makes my approach so unique is that the arts, movement and play are embedded in everything I do, making the work joyful and fun! I want the world to know that there is a better way to get through this, and that’s by putting our own healing and well-being first, staying in community, and tapping into creativity to reimagine what’s next.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Balboa Park is one of my favorite places to wander on wheels or on foot, to picnic, and people watch. It’s also become a popular spot for rollerskaters to cruise around the plazas. It’s always fun to pop into the organ pavilion and listen to some music or watch street performers show off their talents along the prado. Panama 66 is a great place to grab a beer and a snack after a long walk. The sculpture garden in the back is beautiful, kid friendly, and spacious. My stomping grounds in North Park/ Normal Heights/ University Heights are full of great places to eat, drink and be merry-even in the pandemic. I would make sure to catch brunch at Cafe 21, some live jazz on a Tuesday night at Madison on Park, a burrito at El Zarape, and a pint at one the many local breweries. Papalecco in Kensington has the best gelato if you’re craving dessert! A favorite night time spot is the rooftop at Ska Bar on Adams Ave with lots of fresh air, delicious cocktails, and great views. Daytime explorations would include Mission trails, the tidepools in Pt Loma, and a stroll around La Jolla Cove. I love the versatility of SD and would also head up to the Cuyamacas and hike up to Stonewall Peak and grab some pie up in Julian. Too many great places to list them all here!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shout out the San Diego Creative Youth Development Network-a community of arts educators whose devotion to empowering young people through creativity inspires me daily! They stand for youth leadership, racial justice, and collective action, and the loving community they have created during the pandemic has become a second family for me! Other folks who derserve big props: Judith Greer Essex, the founder of the Expressive Arts Institute has been an impactful role model for me as an artist/ healer/ educator. I owe a great debt to the example she set for me and my fellow expressive arts therapists. My business mentor Sage Lavine without whom I would have no business. My partner in good trouble Ann Davis who brilliantly supports students and educators in their healing deserves a major shout out for keeping me sane in my journey to entrepreneurship and being my ride-or-die when I’m exploring new territories in zoom land! Lastly, I wouldn’t be here without the love and encouragement my parents and besties who have always believed in me and loved me fiercely!
Other: Educators, join my facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/artfulleadersconnect
Beto Soto Wolgang Hastert Rachelle Archer