Daniel Island School
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
I’m an Instructional Coach that loves to work with teachers on innovative instructional practices so all students can achieve their goals. I support teachers through PLC’s, individual coaching, mentoring, and professional development. I support the students through modeling in their classrooms or just being a part of their community to help them learn new content. I support my administration through constant communication and goal setting to make sure our school is running effectively. As the coach in a K-8 school, I have the ability to really feel the “vibe” of the school and make sure we are always working to build a strong foundation and culture.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
We must inspire our students to become life-long learners and problem solvers so they can achieve their goals, not just pass a test.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
I always wanted to be an educator! Since I was in 5th grade, I knew it’s what I was going to do. I was a curious kid, but not a good student, so I wanted to be the teacher that would make learning fun for a change. I also had a heart for students who struggled in school, so Special Education became my first educational experience. Education is always changing, so I never get sick of being an educator, no matter what my title might be.
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
Since 2014, I have found my voice through social media and my blog, so I’m always looking for other ways I can help other educators. I especially enjoy connecting with new teachers because of their energy and hope for all they can do for their students. I want to be a mentor to those people so they stay inspired. We need passionate educators, but it’s hard to stay that way alone. At the end of my blog newsletter, I have #bettertogether #sharingiscaring before my signature, and I really feel that way and want to spread that message as far as I can.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
As I mentioned, I wasn’t a great student, but I’ve become an educator that can’t seem to make time for fiction books because of all the inspirational education books out there! I own more Dave Burgess Consulting books than I can count and most of them are dog eared, highlighted, and written all over. They’ve all changed something I do in my position, whether it’s my mindset or new strategies. I’ve attended so many conferences and learned so much from all the presenters that I became a Google Certified Trainer so I could present more myself. One of my favorite quotes is from Bill Nye, “Everyone you ever meet knows something you don’t.”. I love this quote because no matter how much we learn, we can always learn something new. If I didn’t read books, go to conferences, or take extra courses as much as I do, I would never have even thought of myself as a possible leader or role model to anyone.
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
I worked with a student in Florida (where I taught for 14 years before moving to SC 9 years ago) who struggled so much, and he was only in Kindergarten. This boy was so willing to learn and had such a positive spirit that I worked with him over the summer, even though he was going to be retained. I learned about an Orton Gillingham program for kids with dyslexia and figured it was worth a try. It took him all year to learn half of the alphabet, and he was a smart kid! The program really helped. After having him as one of my resource students until he left my school to go to middle school, he finally started doing really well. In High School, he won a writing/speech contest and his mom made sure to let me know. When he graduated high school, she invited me to his graduation (and added a letter of gratitude that still makes me cry). That may have taken a long time to get validation like that, but that one will stick with me until I retire!
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
Programs for new teachers! I wish we had more people designated to truly mentor our new teachers. Not just new to teaching, but new to teaching in South Carolina. I came with 14 years of experience and I felt like a brand new teacher when I moved here. Things can be so different and we take for granted what we think people already know. I would love to build a truly inspiring network/program for those new people so they would tell their friends they don’t know what they are missing. If we had that culture like that built into our districts, we wouldn’t need to recruit, they’d come to us. Right now, new teachers aren’t coming as quickly as they used to, and that has to change.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
My most recent experience was when I had the opportunity to move from the classroom to a Personalized Learning Coach through a grant in Charleston. The training they created through one of Marzano’s foundations was amazing! I learned more in those two years than I think I did during my entire career. It was a steep learning curve, but it was wonderful to see the changes that took place in the classrooms that our team worked in. It really gave me the foundation I needed to help teachers personalize learning, especially the why behind it. I feel like we end up in positions or meet certain people for a reason. All of my experiences have brought me to where I am today for a reason. Even if I don’t know what that reason is yet, I’m thankful for all of the experiences (good and bad) and can’t wait to see where it leads me next!