As I reflect on the factors that influenced my decision to become a teacher, the one thing that stands out is the quality of teachers that I had as a student. My mother and grandmother were the first quality teachers that I had. My grandmother, born in 1895, taught herself how to read and write. My mother dropped out of school in the eighth grade but taught herself how to read and write better so that she would be able to help us with our homework. I remember many nights sitting by the fireplace listening to her read. Those nights of listening to my mother read kindled my desire for learning and helping others to learn. The lessons I learned from my grandmother and mother were not all about academics, but lessons concerning life and service to others. The wisdom I gained inspired me to seek a professional career of service to others. My grandmother’s love of education influenced my decision to become a teacher greatly. As Andy Rooney once said, “I’ve learned that the best classroom is at the foot of an elderly person.” As I pursued my elementary, middle, and high school education, I encountered many quality teachers who nurtured, encouraged, guided, and mentored me.
1972 was the first year of integration in Jenkins County. It was a year of uncertainty and turmoil. I was in the seventh grade at this time. It was also during this time that a new industrial arts teacher moved into Millen to teach middle school industrial arts. He, his wife, and son rented property across the street from my grandmother’s property. I was fortunate to have been enrolled in Mr. Daughtry’s industrial arts class. He took a personal interest in my brother and me. Mr. Daughtry treated my brother and I like his sons. It took great courage for him to do this considering the fact that he was white and we were black. It took more courage for him to treat us like his sons the first year of integration and during a time when there was so much community unrest. Mr. Daughtry willingness to mentor us, without hesitation or reservation, made a significant impression on me and taught me that we should do that which is morally right and not that which is popular. While attending a state Georgia Industrial Arts Student Association (GIASA) convention in Macon, I was awarded the Georgia Power Scholarship for Outstanding Leadership in Industrial Arts. This was a direct result of Mr. Daughtry’s mentoring and guidance. It was at that moment that I decided I wanted to be an industrial arts teacher.
My greatest contributions to education were serving on three state committees to improve the Technology Education Curriculum in the state of Georgia. Those committees were the Curriculum Framework for Technology Education, the Georgia Academic Standards for Technology Education, and the Drafting Standards for Technology Education. Nationally, I served on the International Technology Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) Engineering by Design (EbD) curriculum development team. I wrote engineering units for EbD middle school program. I also served on the team that developed the test items for the Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators (GACE) in Technology Education.
Most recently, I worked with Learning for Life to pilot a middle school Explorer club that provided apprenticeship opportunities for seven middle school students at JCB, a construction equipment manufacturer in Savannah, GA.
My greatest accomplishments in education are not measured in personal gains or rewards, but in the successes of the students I teach every day. My greatest accomplishment in education, thus far, is having made a difference in the life of my former student, Mario Ball. Mario is a Bio-medical Engineer with a major pace-maker company in Atlanta. While attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Mario was awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship as well as a NASA Internship. Mario was the first freshman to be chosen for a NASA internship.
Another accomplishment of which I am proud was being selected a 2011 Siemen STEM fellow. Of four hundred applicants, only fifty is chosen. I was one of the fifty chosen to spend an intense two weeks at Discovery Education in Washington, D.C. learning how to create a STEM based flipped classroom.