Why did you choose the field of education as a career?
As a college freshman in Texas, I had a friend who was a sign language interpreter. I went with her to visit a preschool classroom for Deaf students. I was immediately taken by the teacher’s skill in helping her students develop both communication and academic skills. I thought “that is what I want to do.” Interestingly, when I finished college, my first job was in that same school, working alongside that teacher who had so inspired me.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a person entering into the education field during an unprecedented times?
I’ve come to realize the power that educators have to transform the lives of their students. I’ve seen it so many times through the years—how a skilled and committed teacher can make the classroom (even a virtual classroom) a place where students can grow and thrive, academically, socially, and emotionally. I would want anyone entering the field, regardless of the times, to be aware of the immense power they hold in shaping students’ lives.
What would you identify as your greatest success(es), especially in light of the current environment?
Equity and inclusion are so important, today more than ever. MCCSC has had such a longstanding commitment to the inclusion of students with disabilities, and I’m proud of being able to help support the work of so many in continuing to move that foward. When I first start teaching in 1980 we were thrilled that students with disabilities were on the same campus with typical peers, even if they were in portable classrooms behind the gym. Now they are routinely taught in classrooms alongside their peers and a part of the everyday life of their school community. Our staff has worked really hard to ensure that the needs of students with more significant disabilities, emotional and behavioral challenges and others are met. Teachers and staff have embraced concepts such as trauma-informed care as they work to figure out ways to keep kids successful and in school. Our school corporation has made good progress in addressing issues of equity in recent years, but like so many institutions in our society, we must continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard and insist on equity for those who have been marginalized.
What is your favorite quote/saying?
“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be. “ –Rita Pearson
What is the most rewarding part of your profession?
For me, by far the most rewarding aspect of my work has been hearing from parents or caregivers that their student is doing well—that they are making good academic progress, feeling good about school, making new friends, or any other positive outcome. And sometimes teachers will send me video of students doing things in class—clever, adorable, brilliant, or simply funny—that the staff and families have been working so hard on to accomplish.
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