Last week, the Kingsport native and Sullivan North High School alumna emailed the Johnson City Press to tell us more about her hobbies, interests, career and her opinions on education.
Favorite local restaurant: Cootie Browns
Favorite book (s): “High-quality children's literature is my favorite. I enjoy reading aloud to students and my daughter.”
Plans after local education: Traveling with family and publishing picture books for young children.
Pet Peeves: “Texting while driving and cell phone use during family gatherings.”
Hobbies: “I enjoy gardening, camping and mountain biking.”
What led you to work in Washington County Schools and what do you think makes the system unique?
I am very proud and honored to work in Washington County Schools. I take great pride in working for a school district that excels academically. We exceed the state average in achievement and we’re ranked first among other surrounding county school districts. I appreciate the fact that Washington County Schools hold teachers and staff accountable for high expectations. There is a strong emphasis on professional development. The district takes steps to ensure that professional development focuses on effective teaching and learning strategies. The school sites are safe and have intellectually stimulating learning environments. Students feel respected and connected with the staff and are engaged in learning. The district achieves all this within a budget that reflects lower than the average state per-pupil expenditure.
Can you tell us a bit about your role with the schools over the years?
I served in the field of education for the past 15 years as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and district curriculum coordinator. During my 17 years in the Washington County School System, I’ve been a classroom teacher, administrator, school-level coach, district curriculum coordinator and coach in the Read to be Ready Network. With a commitment to implementing strong instructional practices, I support administrators, teachers, and students by using research-based strategies. I assist with curriculum needs, professional development, analyzing data and implementing rigorous educational programs throughout the district.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing students and teachers in public schools today?
I believe one of the biggest challenges facing public education is funding. Budget cuts have created huge problems for most public schools in recent years. Less funding means smaller staffs, fewer resources and a lower number of services for students.
What qualities do you think an educator should have?
Teachers need strong interpersonal skills, such as communication, patience and flexibility.
This will enable them to work productively with their colleagues, administrators, parents and students. Teachers also need to be able to build trusting relationships with students in order to create a safe, positive and productive learning environment. An empathic and patient teacher can help students learn and grow effectively in their education. Lastly, they must have a dedication to teaching or passion for the work, which includes a commitment to students’ success.
Who inspires you most in life and in your career?
Over the course of my 17 years as an educator, there have been a lot of people who have had a tremendous influence on my life, and all have had an impact on my practice. One, however, stands out as my greatest teacher — my daughter. She has been tremendously influential in my evolution as a practitioner. Being a mother has made me a better teacher. It has made me more conscious of a parent’s point of view, and it’s increased my patience and understanding in the classroom. I am more flexible and forgiving and see students through a more empathetic lens.