Dr. Carole Collins Ayanlaja


With service, diversity, education, and community as her passions, Dr. Carole Collins Ayanlaja has a career that spans decades in education.  Her experience includes teaching in public schools, school leadership, and district leadership. Today she works as a professor at Eastern Illinois University, where she is impacting the next generation of teachers. Keep scrolling to learn more about her impact on education!


What are you up to now?

After graduation, I left for Chicago and received an academic scholarship from Lake Forest College. My sister, who is also an NC Alumnus, relocated to Chicago around that time due to a job promotion so we got to see each other. My parents were divorced around the time I graduated and I felt the need for a fresh start. I recently had a full circle moment, when my son graduated from Lake Forest College a few years ago!

As a Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, I educate and elevate adult learners through the delivery of interactive hybrid and virtual instruction that prepares professionals for a career in teacher leadership and service as principals and superintendents. My professional career spans over two decades of combined public school teaching, school leadership, district leadership, and university teaching.

My instruction amplifies equity and inclusive practices in Educational Leadership. An internal lens that propels my research is focused on racial, social, economic, and cultural conditions and how these impact leadership experiences, student outcomes, and family engagement. My methodological approach is rooted in constructivist and interpretivist paradigms.

I am equity-driven and promote respect, opportunity, and access for all. I engage in exploratory inquiry built upon constructivist paradigms. My teaching, research, practice, and service aims are to promote opportunity and access for all students, families, and communities.

How did North Central impact and shape who you are today?

NC was a forum for high-quality education, engagement, and interaction. You had to have the tenacity to find ways to get support. As an African American, NC taught me what it is like to navigate minority status at a large school in the 1980s. NC brought together all types of kids. The search for identity was strong. We advocated for a Black Class President.

WHAT IS your favorite memory from North Central?

One of my favorite memories from North Central was the high quality of classes. I was in accelerated classes. There was a small pod of us-Black students who traveled together in those classes. We built relationships with one another. Sometimes it separated us from other Black students, and I felt a bit labeled. I loved all the leadership opportunities at North Central. I was a student council representative. I participated in the Black Student Union as a secretary, choir, and was a peer tutor.

My dad who was a Lieutenant with the Indianapolis Police Department moved our family from IPS to Washington Township to take advantage of the opportunities here. My mother was the registrar in Washington Township. I attended Crooked Creek, Delaware Trails, and Westlane. Being an African American in the 1980s at NC was challenging because I sometimes felt socially marginalized but my parents wanted me to have access to every opportunity available and they knew the education and resources in Washington Township was strong.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Carole Colins Ayanlaja or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Looking for ways you can support North Central High School and Washington Township Schools? Donate today and help our foundation support programs to enhance the educational experience for our students and provide resources for MSDWT teachers and staff.