State and City of Residence:
Why do you work in education?
When I was growing up, I thought I would be an anthropologist, a diplomat, or an actress. Really, that's what I had in my head! My mother, however, said that I always “played school” and what came out of my mouth was that I wanted to be a teacher. Being an educator happily combines elements of all my childhood desires. I love the work of studying people, the art of creating a positive state of affairs, the energy of communicating purpose, and the craft of combining content and pedagogy. It is the best job ever!
Tell us about something that you have done in education that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community.
My school impacts the futures of more new Americans (refugees and immigrants) than any other in the state. Through a collaborative effort, we are helping to create a diverse, multi-lingual, globally focused workforce for our city. Our school has forged strong partnerships with business, municipal, and higher education partners affording our students the chance to “see what they can be” by providing them with meaningful experiences that bring learning to life. I am thrilled with the progress we have made with the implementation of career academies in Nashville.
What’s your favorite part about being an America Achieves Fellow?
I love the Fellowship because it makes me very proud of the work being done across the country to improve outcomes for students. Collaborating and learning from bright, dedicated professionals who approach the work from multiple perspectives energizes and inspires me.
If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
I would change working conditions for teachers. Teachers are the “real” difference makers! Teachers sustain high levels of success in the face of high stakes accountability and most definitely deserve more than they currently earn, both in terms of salary and in professional stature. Teachers who excel in providing effective mentorship and programming for their teams should be recognized and compensated as leaders, without having to become an administrator as the only path to earn career distinction. The most effective principals know how powerfully impactful such educators can be and want to provide them with the kind of workplace benefits that corporate colleagues enjoy.
What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?
After my first day of “principaling” inner city middle school kids, a 7th grade boy put his arm around me and said, "You like us, don't you?" It seems they were not accustomed to being cherished by the adults in authority. It made me happy to know that he felt the genuine love within my soul for every student in our building.
What is one book every educator must read?
The must read book is "Extreme Ownership," by Babin and Willink. The lessons are game changers, guaranteed to make us better performers!