My father was the principal of one of the high schools in my small town (before segregation and after) and my mother taught elementary and middle school in the same community. People looked up to my father and mother not because of their titles or roles, but because they poured into the lives of the young people of our small close knit town. I spent many days following my father at work, or sitting in a trusted teacher’s class on days when I didn’t have school. Pre planning days always found me helping my mother put up her bulletin board and arranging her class. As a child I loved playing school and of course I was the teacher. I was born to be a teacher you might say. These experiences helped me see how important educators are in any community.
After high school, I attended Spelman College majoring in biology. Here I formed a close group of friends. Majoring in biology was not easy. Often someone would knock on my dorm room door asking to study together for an upcoming test, or help in completing math homework. I guess you can say I was playing school, “big girl” version. By my senior year I found myself struggling with what I should do with my life, I had already decided after my first test in my freshman biology class that maybe I didn’t want to go to medical school after all. Teach for America was gaining in popularity, I called home to get advice and told my parents about Teach for America. They both adamantly told me I would not like being a teacher, education had changed, and teachers were no longer respected as professionals. Deflated I did my research, learned about the Physician Assistant profession and applied to and attended Emory University. I spent six years practicing medicine in a private pediatric office in downtown Atlanta. Before long, I was the go to person to provide education materials for patients. I found this aspect of the job as rewarding as direct patient care. I was still a teacher at heart.
Life brought my husband and me to Savannah. I was again questioning what I should be doing with my life. I started substitute teaching on the advice of my oldest brother who was a teacher in Savannah at the time. I soon heard about the first Georgia Teaching Alternative Program (GTAP) and applied. I was accepted and never looked back
Since becoming a teacher, I have had challenging and rewarding experiences. While working at Bartlett Middle School, I was nominated by my students my first year teaching for the Rotary Club South Excellence in teaching award. I did not complete the application because I did not feel worthy. The principal cornered me and asked me where my application was, I conveyed my feelings of believing there were other teachers more deserving. He told me that my students believed I deserved it and that I should believe my students. The next year I was nominated again, I completed the application, was interviewed and won the award. My students were excited and quite honestly so was I; a second year teacher who many days wondered if I was doing anything right received recognition for excellence in teaching. This by far is my biggest accomplishment because it came when I was new, unsure, and often overwhelmed.