Camden High School
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
Currently, I am an Assistant Principal at Camden High School. I was the 2016 South Carolina Assistant principal of the Year and a NASSP National Finalist for Assistant Principal of the Year. In my role, there is no typical day. My time is spent doing whatever is necessary to ensure teaching and learning takes place in a positive, safe environment for faculty, staff, and students.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
Building relationships and fostering leadership creates an environment where all stakeholders experience success.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
I am a South Carolina native. I was born and bred in Lancaster as the youngest female of seven children. My path as an educational leader is different from most. I am a first-generation high school graduate and the first person in my family to attend any postsecondary program. My motivation for education is not only my innate desire to learn and teach, but also the results that I see every day walking down the halls of this school. These results are not test scores, but the changes I see in teenagers as they grow and mature in their actions and their thoughts each day as they find what motivates them to be the best person they can be. Although I knew at a very young age that I wanted to teach, my life experiences are what make me a great teacher. Coming from such a large family with a single income and little education did not give me easy route to being successful. College was a luxury, not a right, but I fought to get it and spent my time there being sure it was worth it to me. Education was the way to accomplish my dreams, and I fought to be sure I could gain as much knowledge as possible. This fight molded me to become an educator who will not accept excuses and who will spend countless hours helping students and teachers because I know that education is a necessity and each student deserves his or her path to be cleared as much as possible. It is my passion to guide everyone to realize their potential, not only as students or teachers, but as humans.
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
I hope to assist in the recruitment, induction, and retention of quality teachers. Teachers are the deciding factor in a classroom. There is no technology, instructional program, or textbook that can take the place of having a highly qualified teacher in each classroom. In order for the children of South Carolina to receive the best education possible, we must recruit quality teachers with the passion to achieve that goal. We need teachers who believe that all children can learn and are determined to reach each child in their classroom every year. We need teachers who will never settle for adequate or even good, as long as better is possible. After we find the best teachers, we must make sure we have quality induction programs to aid these teachers as they grow in a challenging, but rewarding, career. In addition to an effective induction program, these teachers need guidance from effective, experienced teachers and caring administrators who want “new” teachers to succeed-mentors who will guide, not criticize, as induction teachers learn what it takes to make a difference in the lives of their students and will model the behaviors necessary to be effective in the classroom. After finding and helping these quality teachers, we must retain them. Teachers, like students, learn and grow each year. We need teachers to stay in the profession to insure all students have the best education possible. Like students, teachers whose needs are taken care of will function better in the classroom. Finding ways to reward effective teaching and encouraging teachers who need extra help will increase the retention of teachers. Without the recruitment, induction, and retention of quality teachers, students will not receive the best education possible.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
Our faculty and staff follow our “Commitment to Excellence” by investing in professional development opportunities, so we can best support, encourage, and educate our diverse student body. I actively promote collaboration and professionalism among the adults who affect our students’ lives by establishing Professional Learning Communities through Professional Learning Tuesdays, Peer Observations. Tuning Protocols, book studies, and school-wide writing instruction. As a school leader, I further embrace this “Commitment to Excellence” by continuously improving myself through additional professional development.
Our state (DAPP) and district (APSP) programs for assistant principals increased my network of experts as I grow as a leader. Attending and presenting at state and national conferences leads to further growth and reflection. By leading our faculty book studies, AdvancEd accreditation, and Palmetto’s finest journey, I connect with and learn from my faculty, staff, and community. As a leader who models expectations, I recently connected to educators using Twitter as a professional learning network (PLN). This addition to my professional development greatly impacts my success as a school leader.
Effectively educating our children is the ultimate way to make our world a better place, and they deserve educational leaders who share best practices. Being connected allow me to learn, grow, and share with educational leaders internationally. Using Twitter to network and connect provides passionate educators a voice and a community while investing in people and ourselves. Just as we wish to custom-tailor our instruction for our students, we, as educators, must provide customized learning for ourselves. Using Twitter hashtags and Twitter chats allow me the opportunity to focus on any topic at any time and to contact educators for expansion of their ideas. I can receive information from conferences I wasn’t able to attend by following participants at the event. Additionally, I’m exposed to educational books and other resources unknown to me before becoming connected.
By following leading education experts, I see their school culture and learning environments each day through their eyes. Previously building productive, professional relationships with educational leaders outside my school, district, state, and nation was not possible without extensive resources and travel. Furthermore, using the internet as empowerment and positivity models effective use of digital sources for my faculty, students, and community. Although this is a new method of personalized professional development for me, I can already see its impact on my success as an educational leader as my educational views and leadership toolbox expand.
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
There is not a pivotal moment when I realized education was the correct career choice. I’ve never considered this a choice for me. It is a calling and a passion.
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
I would shift the focus off of programs and back onto people. According to John Hattie, collective teacher efficacy has the greatest impact on student achievement –higher than relationships and home environment. As educational leaders, we must develop, empower, and inspire our teachers.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
My most rewarding experiences as an educator are seeing the success of those I lead: Watching reluctant students blossom into learners; new teachers growing into educational experts; experienced teachers taking risks; and aspiring administrators achieving their leadership positions.