Q. When did you know you wanted to be an educator?
A. I did not want to be a teacher. My mother was a teacher and I thought that was just not what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something to better society. I had really passionate views on what freedom meant, what access meant, and I wanted to be part of that and I thought that meant law. I started taking some classes and realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer.
Q. What changed for you?
A. I went to a bookstore and I found a book by Jonathan Kozol called, Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools and it talked about urban education and the disparities in some of the schools: not having enough classrooms for kids, not having adequate textbooks, the teacher in the classroom changing multiple times over the course of a year. I kept looking back at the copyright date, and it was current time. [The system] sounded egregiously unfair. How can you have access to freedom if you don’t have education? So I changed my major to elementary education and I am so proud I did.
Q. What teaching triumph are you most proud of?
A. One year before “Meet the Teacher,” we put out the names of the kids who were in that classroom. A teacher who was highly regarded at my school – everyone thought she was the expert – came up to my class list and told me all the kids I would not enjoy in my classroom. I was horrified. Everyone gets a fresh start. How can we characterize someone from their behavior in 4th grade? I was bound and determined to prove her wrong. It was done. Those were great kids. It was the best teaching year of my life. After that, I decided I would be the leader of a school and I would stop that behavior.
Q. What insight did you gain from your experience at REEP?
A. There are tenets in business and tenets in education but managing people can cross those lines. People want to be treated with respect. They want opportunities to grow. They want their voices heard. They want their concerns addressed. That can happen in a business; that can happen in a school. Lessons and perspectives from one can carry over to the other.