At the CMNEA candidate forum, I was asked to share something unique about myself. So I decided to share my initial inspiration to start a career on public education. I wanted to share what I discussed for those that did not attend the forum:
Public education is personal for me.
Originally, I was a teacher. I earned a master’s degree in special education, focusing my study in teachings those with multiple diagnoses. I taught special education at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson City in the 1990s.
I had intended to follow in the footsteps of my great aunt Florence. She was a teacher and principle in the Lebanon school district. No one in my family since her had gone to college. But she always emphasized the importance of a good education
When I was a young child, we would visit her frequently. I remember that she would make me black eyed peas with lunch every single time I visited. At nearly every visit, she would tell me stories of when she was in the public schools. Throughout my youth and right up until the months before she passed, she instilled in me the importance of public education. I should add that it was not just me. I have cousins that also became teachers in large part because of Aunt Florence.
She would have been proud that I started my career in public education.
Unfortunately, in the end, I did not have the temperament to be a teacher.
While teaching and researching the laws related to my students, including the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA), I learned that I have the temperament to be an attorney. So I went to law school.
After law school I went on to work for the state of Missouri. I have spent 20 years as a state government attorney, working many of those years in government oversight and administration. I have been a litigator, a lobbyist, and the general counsel to a statewide elected official. I have put in more hours in those jobs but none were harder than when I taught.
Even thought I left education for other public service, I still believe strongly in public education. I still believe in the principles that my great aunt Florence instilled in me many years ago.
Becoming a board member brings me back to my roots. I want to put the skills I have developed professionally over the last 20 years to work for CPS.