My teaching career began unconventionally. Poised to go to either law school or grad school to become a sociology professor, teaching was simply a dream I had had as a child, nothing more. However, an inspirational professor, Dr. Loretta Morris, drastically and unknowingly diverted my plans during my final semester at Loyola Marymount University. She taught Sociology of Children and her course opened up educational wounds I had long covered up. Her class reminded me of the many hours so many of my teachers had wasted during my lifetime resulting in sincerely missed opportunities for real learning. See, even growing up, all I wanted to do was learn, but it wasn’t until college that I felt that this ever truly happened for me in a classroom setting.
Dr. Morris’s class was a call to action, a rehashing of all things wrong with the traditional classroom, and I took wholeheartedly to the call. Not a month after graduating from LMU, I was enrolled in an internship teacher credentialing program at Claremont Graduate University. I began teaching full time on an emergency credential three months later. It was 2000, at the height of 20:1 class-size reduction hiring, and I was just 21 years old.
Thankfully, I started my career as a second-grade teacher at a Title I school. It was a significant relief to be among such youngins, as I was a practically a baby myself! If my class had been any older, I would have been mistaken for a student! As you can imagine, this certainly made for some interesting parent-teacher relationships my first few years! However, being in the Title I setting was my greatest luck. I was working with underprivileged children with exceptionally respectful parents. My staff was the hardest working family I have ever worked with, providing a stellar education for each child at our school. It was a perfect learning space for me. Since then, I have taught fourth and fifth grades in both affluent and middle-of-the-road schools.
Needless to say, as such a young teacher, every single day I was learning. I was learning how to teach the curriculum, sure, but also how to be a strong leader, a positive role-model, a patient coach, a mindful mentor, a non-judging shrink, a fair conflict-resolver, a real-world etiquette instructor, and a day-to-day morale supporter. A great teacher is all of these things and more! I was called to this career to provide my students with the education I wished I had had and I was not going to let my students down.
My commitment in my classroom is to always be relevant to my students’ real lives and to their futures, respectful of their time and their passion for learning, and focused on what they need most when they need it. My career success has relied upon my continuous dedication to humility, growth, revision, study, professional development, and the ceaseless query as to what is possible.
I have never stopped believing that I am ever a novice, even after nearly two decades in the classroom. I maintain a healthy enthusiasm for innovation, evolving daily both professionally and personally. As I tell my students, I am the first student in our classroom, learning for them and alongside them, revising my craft, and aiming to make every day the best learning experience YET! I came into adulthood as a teacher. Teaching defines me.
Enter motherhood. My husband Bobby and I brought our son, Beau, into this world in 2015. We cannot even remember, nor care to recall, what life was like before him. He has completed us. we have loved being swept away by his every move, every sound, every change. When we are together, nothing else matters. He has made us better people. He is the ultimate blessing in our lives.