Twists and Turns on the Road to Where I Am Today
People who know me realize how passionate I am about education, and that's been true for a long time. However, my pathway to where I am now hasn't been entirely predictable. At times, I have found myself at a crossroads where I had to make a choice. Every turn has led me to where I am today, even though I didn't exactly map it all out from the start. Here are a few of the more surprising moments in my life and how they got me to where I am.
When I went to college, I didn't prepare for a career in education. I loved history and politics and envisioned going to law school so I could champion a cause I believed in. As it turns out, education was my cause. Through my experience tutoring young people at church, I realized how much I loved teaching. When I had a pause in my professional career to give birth to my daughter, I took that time to get a teaching certificate -- and I was off on a new path.
This love of teaching and the impact I could have kept me exhilarated. I couldn't imagine myself outside of a classroom. Then a former area superintendent planted a seed in my brain when he asked if I had ever considered a leadership position. I hadn't -- until that moment. As that seed took root, I considered how my impact might spread, and I pursued an administrator endorsement.
With that qualification in hand, I was able to say yes when a principal offered me my first leadership position as an assistant principal. That position, and her high expectations, helped me understand a leader's responsibility for and impact on the learning of everyone in a school, from the new student to the veteran teacher to the engaged parent.
I began to realize how lucky I was as a teacher to have principals who believed that all teachers must learn continuously. We work hard at Learning Forward to instill this belief in all educators: Learning is continuous for all and an absolute for us in the field of education. I was fortunate that my supervisors and mentors lived that motto.
My journey through more progressive leadership positions allowed me to continue my passion for teaching. I strived to create supportive learning contexts for adults and refined my focus as an advocate for children who might not have other champions.
As principal of a progressive high school, I was settled and pleased with the impact I was having on my students and community. I was there for the long haul. Then came the opportunity to lead a team designing and implementing a new teacher and school-based administrator evaluation program. This led me to the central office, where I am a mentor/coach to other principals. And even though I couldn't have predicted where I'd be right now, it seems like the most natural role in the world.
While I did not plan the twists I've taken on my leadership pathway, I do know this: I met the right people at the right times who helped me see something in myself, I was open to continuous learning, and I never lost my passion for education. I hope that, along the way, I've been that right person for someone else.
This post appears in the October 2015 issue of JSD.