Wade Hampton High School
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
My role as an educator for the last 13 years has been spent sharing my passion for business and education with students as I try to prepare them for real-world experiences. In the upcoming school year, I will transition into a new dual role of Instructional Technology Specialist for my school and continue to be the teacher for the Dual Credit Business classes: Marketing 101 and Management 101. In both of these roles, I will assist and facilitate students and teachers through technology and content to increase focus, awareness and knowledge as we tackle another school year filled with unknowns because of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
My typical day will begin with my Instructional Technology Specialist role: checking emails, prioritizing teacher and student needs with technology issues, and focusing my attention on the greatest need first. By 8:30, I will be standing at my door to greet my students. During the first block class, I will teach my Marketing or Management class for 90 minutes and then shift back into the Instructional Technology Specialist mindset where I will focus on anything from researching new technology to observing teachers, supporting technology usage and needs in a classroom, presenting and/or planning a professional learning opportunity for teachers or maintaining and updating the school’s fixed assets. I am excited about my new position and to see how I reach more students this year by assisting teachers throughout the building.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
Learning is a journey, not a destination and with the proper tools, everyone can succeed.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
“Like mother, like daughter!” If you had told me as a teenager about pursuing education as a profession, I would have said that you had me confused with my mother, my aunts or my grandmothers. I wanted to stand out from the other women in my family by being unique and following a different path. I tried lots of majors in college but finally found a love for business. After college, I worked in property management, retail management, insurance, distribution, and even banking. I wanted to know and learn from as many people in business as possible. As I learned more and more about business, every job began promoting me into training and mentoring roles which was great because I loved sharing my passion with others. As I continued to train and mentor within my jobs, I soon had the “A-Ha” moment. Teaching was in my blood. I was unique and different because of the talent and passion I had for learning business and imparting that knowledge to others.
When the opportunity arose to teach at a career center, I knew the job would be perfect for me since I trained teens in my previous positions. From that day forward, I feel that I have been making a true impact to each and every individual I have taught. The students see my passion for business and my dedication to them in each class. For me, teaching has become more than just another profession on my resume; it is an answer to my calling and gives me purpose.
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
I believe that Rick Warren’s quote describes my commitment to the community: “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time.” My life has been continually enriched through the service and time I have invested in the community. I volunteer and encourage my students to get involved as well. There are not enough words to describe the reciprocal effect of helping others. Through building relationships in the community, we give, but we also receive. Community has such a strong impact on schools, and I eagerly anticipate what I can learn and use each and every time I am in the community. The connections that are built are priceless moments and memories and the time invested in others always seems to enhance our lives.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
As educators, we are in a position to plant the seeds of knowledge, water those seeds that are already in place, and monitor the growth throughout the year. Professional development allows me the opportunity to develop my knowledge and skills which I then am able to bring back to my students and, in the near future, my co-workers. Some of my best insights have developed from professional learning that challenged me to look at students through a different lens.
As a member of Greenville County Schools Teacher Forum, I have had the privilege of working with teachers of all grade levels. Collaborating with teachers from other schools and grade levels has also provided a new outlook and approach to students and how they view school on every level. So often, we, as educators, focus on our particular content area or grade levels and we lose focus of the entire educational system. This also causes us not to have compassion and understanding for the student as a whole. Working with these teachers is eye opening and helps me to understand why our district makes the decisions they do. This additional perspective will benefit not just the high school student, but everyone from K4 to life long learning adults. I also attended the GCS Career & Technology Education professional development with Mark C. Perna on Answering Why. It changed my perspective of students and made me realize that they are not being disrespectful by asking why, but are instead seeking purpose.
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
When working in business, you know very quickly whether or not you are making a profit which allows decisions to become very black or white. I have often heard that the best teachers teach from the heart, but how exactly can you measure this? For me, the pivotal moment when I realized my career choice in education was the correct one was when my former students began to reach out and tell me how their college or career experiences were better because of having my class. I strive to ensure that when students leave my classroom they are prepared to walk into college, the military, or the job of their choice, confident that they will succeed. One student in particular that stands out to me is Luz. She seemed to soak up every bit of information like a sponge. Luz was selected to complete a two week internship with Erwin Penland Advertising agency, worked with Junior Achievement of the Upstate as a volunteer, and was a stellar officer of my Future Business Leaders of America club. Luz is now a college graduate. She double majored in International Business and Marketing and still says that the success she had in my class is what propelled her. Seeing Luz and other students succeed brings joy to my heart and lets me know that I made the best decision in pursuing my call to teach.
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
If I could make one major change in education, it would be the grading system because it is not equitable to all students and it is not a true depiction of how you may or may not find success in life.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
I believe that my most rewarding experience as an educator is encouraging students who feel they are at their lowest not to quit. My students know that I do not take excuses. Throughout the year, I share the following quote with them: “Excuses are the tools of the weak and incompetent used to build monuments of nothingness. Those who excel in it seldom excel in anything else but excuses.” Choosing to teach students how they should take responsibility for their own actions instead of making excuses is something in which I pride myself. I worked in industry before becoming a teacher and know that the average boss is not going to take an excuse. This is why I choose to show my students people who they see as successful and show them the work ethic and responsibility as opposed to the excuse. It is always humbling when I forget my own words and come up with an excuse. Invariably, my students remind me of what it takes to become a success. This is why I believe that encouraging students is my most rewarding experience as an educator.