Why did you choose the field of education as a career?
I think I was born to be a teacher. I played teacher all of the time growing up and even if I was the youngest I always had to be the teacher. Also I come from generations of educators, my grandmother and mother and step mother were all teachers and they were my role models.
Choose three words to describe your educational philosophy that guides you as an educator.
The 3 words I would choose that guide me are: Perserverance, Faith, Care. As an educator you must constantly perservere when things get tough, or students get frustrated. It is my job to keep them motivated and going. I have faith in my ability and an unwavering belief in their abilities that they will succeed. If you don’t see it for them it will never happen. I also care deeply for my students. My love language is helping others. I have this strong desire to support and see them to their goal.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
I believe the greatest challenge facing students today is the ever changing world and not being able to keep up with it. I feel all of the standardized testing is creating an environment where they are taught the correct answer but not how to problem solve their way through different situations and learn and use critical thinking. Many of the skills that were part of my generation’s basic education have been pushed aside. I have students who can’t read cursive, can’t tell time on an analog clock, have very poor digital literacy skills, don’t know how to make change or problem solve their way through a problem. And I have discovered during this online learning time, they have very poor digital literacy skills as well. They are always waiting for someone to tell them what to do next. Students don’t read what is in front of them or research the answer, they just wait for guidance.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a person entering into the education field during a unprecedented times?
Don’t. Honestly right now I would not recommend anyone go into education. However, if someone feels passionate about being a teacher, I would recommend they commit to being the best teacher they can be. Find a mentor teacher that you think is doing it right and learn from them. Join online support groups, take advantage of all of the professional development you can. Ride it out, don’t be
hard on yourself and just persevere, have faith in your abilities and those of your students and genuinely care.
What would you identify as your greatest success(es), especially in light of the current environment?
My Bootcamp program is something I am very proud of helping start here in Bloomington. It is a 3 day, 12 hour intensive that ends with the official test and students graduate. This is great for those students who dropped out close to their graduation and had the knowledge just not the stamina to stay and finish. It has proven very effective even during the Pandemic. My classes have all been effective, allowing students the option of coming in person or working with a Learning Management System and having online support has also really helped. Last semester I got 34 graduates and even in Lockdown I was able to get 9 graduates from March to July.
Who was the most influential teacher, coach, principal, etc. you had growing up? What made them influential?
The teacher that always comes to mind is Mr. Ison, my high school Biology Teacher. I took Biology and Advanced Biology and I was his TA my Senior year. He taught us through projects and I really learned a lot. The other person that ties for most influential was my last professor, Dr. Alan South at IUSE in New Albany. I took my last 2 graduate classes from him for license renewal and much of what I do as an adult educator is driven by what I learned in his 2 classes.
What is your favorite quote/saying?
“Fake it until you become it.” From Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk. You must keep putting yourself out there if you ever want to change your projectory in life.
What is the most rewarding part of your profession?
The most rewarding thing is seeing my students succeed. I get great joy out of seeing my students pass their test and go on and do something with their life. It is the reason I get up everyday and go to work and it is what keeps me working.
Anything else you would like to share?
Great Educators are born, not made, but we can become better as we grow in our career. It can be frustrating at times for sure, but if you don’t give up, you will make a difference. That is the ripple that keeps going and building and growing; making a difference is what we strive for each and every day.
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