On one hand, it seems so long ago. On the other hand, it feels like it was just recently. Almost 16 years ago this coming Fall, I was only 23 years old and I was hired for my first teaching job. Anxious was an understatement. My principal at the time, who knew nothing of me, took a chance on a young teacher with no experience. I am forever grateful to Mr. Richard Bounds for seeing in me the potential to positively impact the lives of teenage students in his high school. Additionally, he hired me as the Head Coach of the Girls' Soccer Program to turn around a long-ignored female sports team. My first year of teaching in the classroom and coaching on the field was intense, busy and nonstop... to say the least. I spent 7 days a week working that year - during the week at school, on the weekends, at home, late night in my classroom - to try and stay one step ahead of my students and my players. Such was the life of a first year teacher/coach. I was blessed with a tremendous teacher mentor, Ms. Nancy Hale, that first year who steered me straight, gave me honest feedback both professionally and as a mother-figure, and offered me guidance and her mentorship so that I had a good start to a teaching career. I will forever be grateful to her as well for taking a chance on me and investing her time, effort, expertise and love in me with hopes that I would pass it forward to my students.
I am completely humbled and amazed at the level of support and encouragement I have received over the years as I shared my aspiration to become a school leader. To have a Principal and Asst. Principal who took me under their wings, supported, encouraged, and gave me the opportunity to push myself and grow professionally. I was encouraged to take risks and do what was needed to help my students. I was provided a light so I could see along my journey, but never was I given the map. My opinion was valued and my voice was heard, but most importantly they each put the needs of our students and staff before their own. They have embraced a school culture that is built upon trust and autonomy. And just as importantly, Cindy Gates and Lee Hale have modeled effective school leadership in a way that I one day hope to more fully understand.
After moving from Florida to Alaska because of our family's Air Force obligation and having the opportunity to be a stay-at-home Mommy to my 3 amazing kiddos for the last two years, my journey has taken a turn and will now continue on in a different direction. As of today, the School Board has approved my selection as the new Assistant Principal of Service High School here in Anchorage. I graciously accepted this offer. The excitement and jubilation are huge and I'm ready to exercise my professional brain once again, although it is certainly bittersweet knowing that I will not be at home full time with the girls & to see Thomas off to 1st grade each morning. But, I'm reminded that it wasn't so long ago that I handled a more-than-full-plate with my teaching career, the kids, and Brian deployed (twice)... and my kiddos did just fine. If anything, they thrived just the same. We learned how to savor & love each moment we had together and I know that we will find that again.
I am anxious, eager and ready to make a huge difference in the lives of my future students and colleagues when my summer comes to an end in the middle of next month, and my journey continues as a School Administrator up here in Alaska.