My gift is split several ways. First with my students. I love what I do each and every day. I get to work directly with 22 students all day, but also further each afternoon when I direct our after school program which is growing by the day now to over 150 each day. As I told one child today, they are like family to me–this is much more than “my job.” I come to work early every day, and leave late. I hold tutoring groups, and hold students accountable for the goals they set. I think back when I was in 7th grade, I had just moved to Laramie, WY for 6-months with my family. When we returned to MI, it was like starting all over. The guidance counselor had to place me into an advanced chorus since the other electives were full. I said sure. Quickly, I was lost. The teacher spent many afterschool days, weeks, etc. teaching me theory that I had never heard of. I became part of that family. Her impact was first finding my love for music, but moreover, that maybe teaching would be something that I could “do.” Twenty years later, and into my 10th year of being an educator in FL, I was her ripple effect. I was successful in that school, and now my career because of her!
I now teach other teachers, mentor intern teachers, and have the blessing to share technology integration practices with peers (around the country). My hope is that each of the educators that I work with take just one idea and try or expand upon to make their lessons and practices more engaging and relevant.
Finally, the last thing I would like to share, is my work with the Avon Park Jaycees, a non-profit in my hometown community for young professionals. I quickly got involved with this organization when I moved to FL 10-years ago as a way to meet more people. I was quickly drawn to the group’s philanthropic mission through developing and utilizing each other’s skills. I was elected president for almost 4 years, and mentored the next three individuals. I was recognized this month at the JCI-Florida year end conference as their Outstanding Past-President. I feel like although I can’t give a ton financially, I can give my time. We raise a lot of money each year and give most back to schools in the programs we have created and sustained. Our largest accomplishment, is providing a July 4th fireworks show for our town. The city and county government do not budget for this celebration, and we make it happen. The success that we have is due to continued recruitment and excitement of members who share the same vision.