How did you discover your passion for what you do?

I’m not sure that I am responsible for discovering my passion for education — I believe it found me. During graduate school, I spent a few months on an education development project in Masaka, Uganda. I had always loved school, reading and learning, but I believed after finishing my Masters degree in International Human Rights I would work for the US State Department or another international Non-governmental Organization, possibly focusing on education equity as I had in Uganda. I never thought I would begin my career as a public school teacher. I was struggling to find a job after graduation and had been denied from every PhD program to which I had applied. This perceived failure turned out to be an amazing gift. As a last resort, I applied to Teach for America, got accepted and began teaching in Phoenix, AZ. From day one, I knew I had found my calling as a classroom teacher in underserved schools. I eventually found my way to an alternative high school in Denver, and that role was the perfect fit for me. Helping students, who had been unsuccessful in a traditional school setting, get back on track to obtain their diploma was not only fulfilling but incredibly fun. I knew then that I would always choose to serve students and schools that lacked opportunity for economic and/or social reasons. After teaching for five years, I wanted to further my impact with students outside of my classroom. I had always admired my school’s principal and wanted to build a school culture of acceptance and achievement for every type of student as she had. When I accepted the role of Dean of Academic Outcomes near Cleveland, Ohio I knew that it would be challenging. Lorain City Schools had been failing as a district for close to ten years and our students have been suffering the consequences both academically and economically the entire time. My passion for serving those students and families who have been harmed through neglect, generational poverty and systemic racism has found its culmination in this role.

 

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

My passions are dancing and writing. Since 2015, I have been performing with an all-female dance company called Esme based in Denver. I love the artistic expression this opportunity affords me both in movement and in word. For our last two independent shows, I have written the narration for the productions while also performing the dance pieces. There is nothing more fulfilling for me than spending time with empowering, supportive women who share my love for movement and performing.

 

What words of wisdom do you live by?

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

I tell my students constantly that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I fell into teaching after graduate school almost accidentally — I have never attended a traditional education licensure program since I began in the classroom or became an administrator — but I’ve always known that I love learning and teaching. I have since taken a journey as an educator that I never thought I would have. I am always looking for the next step to be illuminated for me in my career. During this journey I have been a classroom teacher, a department chair, an after-school coordinator with a non-profit and a middle school administrator. I truly never saw any of those roles coming, but I am grateful for their appearance. I had lofty plans for a career in international development, but, as Joseph Campbell notes, our passion is not always cultivated in our best-laid plans.

DELTA ZETA NOW

Be in the know and find out what is happening in Delta Zeta, now! From the latest response to the COVID-19 crisis to new programs and events, the DZ Now page is your one-stop to learn how you can engage, now.