I love to sing

We opened Christopher Farms. It didn’t open for the students until September but it opened for us August 1, 1997. We had 30 days to get it ready.


And we did.

What do you like best about your work?

Well, you love a great principal that works with you and encourages you, allows you to hum and sing. I do it subconsciously, but when you hear the kids say, “Miss Mercy, we were listening to you in class. You’re singing in the bathroom.” That’s a happy custodian.

And what truly makes me happy is when the students look up to you, respect who you are and realize our jobs are important, too. You know, when they come back after graduation and say, “Miss Mercy, I still remember you.” It pleases my heart. There’s nothing like going from fifth grade all the way to 12th and still holding a special part of you in there, so that’s very moving. And having the administrators’ support, and they sing with you sometimes – and sometimes they dance. It just encourages you to have a great day.

To me, it’s not one person who makes a difference, it’s all of us working together. So having a staff of custodians who do what you ask, and you work just as hard as you expect them to work – it makes a difference. We all come together because everybody working together will always accomplish much.

Are you singing outside of school too?

Yes, I’m singing at church. Many times they say, “Mercy, we understand why you have a day job.” But I love to sing. I think when we feel good, we clean better, you do better. It becomes easy and then, before you know it, if they don’t hear you singing, they think something’s wrong: “Miss Mercy, why aren’t you singing?”

I’m going to tell you a secret. The fifth-graders wrote a note. They know how I am about the restrooms. They shouldn’t write on the walls, but I can’t bring myself to erase it, even though I know by September it has to be erased. And I couldn’t get mad at them. I left it up there this entire summer. You know when you’re having a tough day, you go in there and you read it.

What does it say?

That I made them feel special and that’s the toughest part of leaving this school.

It’s all about the children and how you make them feel.


Extracurricular activities

Since middle school I’ve done a lot of extracurricular activities. I feel like doing those clubs inspires me in a way and points me closer to my purpose in life. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I’m pretty sure I’ll figure it out.

The clubs I’ve been doing since sixth grade are: We the People, Math Counts, STEM, Debate, Forensics, LEAP Club, and I think there’s more. Each one of those clubs, they’re fun.

Math Counts, for instance, that made me really interested in math. We the People made me interested in government. LEAP Club, in our world.

Since clubs are concentrated on that one thing, I feel like it’s more thorough. And since it’s not just school, there are not as many educational standards that we have to go through so we can be more flexible with everything.

What are you excited about for your eighth-grade year?

Doing more clubs.


I like to do math

I like to do math and multiplication and learning about that. I mostly like reading because I can get better at reading. I love reading camp. I went here last year, too. I love the fun we have and how we learn.

What do you like to do when you’re not at school?

I practice my work and then I have a little bit of fun and play. I go outside, go to my friend’s house and play.

Have you thought about what you want to do when you grow up?

I was really thinking about being in the military. My whole entire family was in the military: my sister, military; my dad, military; my mom was in the military; my brother wants to go into the military and now I want to.


Running is a big part of my life

I never saw myself in Teaching and Learning. I knew I eventually wanted to go into leadership but I love the curriculum world and I love teaching reading. I love having kids learn how to read. What better way to affect more children in their learning ability than to be in Teaching and Learning.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Spend time with family. I’ve got two twin daughters, they’re 3, and I have a little boy who just turned 2. That in itself is large but I have three older stepchildren as well. They’re absolutely phenomenal. I couldn’t ask to be part of a better family. They welcomed me with open arms and they love their siblings. I’m fortunate.

What is it like being a mother to twins?

So, once you get over the initial shock, the first year I don’t really remember. It was a whirlwind. Then once you get past that first year, it’s phenomenal to see two little people that are best friends and love each other. And it’s really interesting to see their two personalities because they are completely different even though they’ve been raised the same way with the same parents in the same environment.

What else would you want people to know about you?

Running is a big part of my life. I played sports: I played soccer and I swam and played basketball. I really hated running when I had to do it. I feel like after college I needed that outlet. I still had that competitive nature and if you don’t have that outlet it’s not safe for anybody around me. One of my former coworkers at Luxford, he was a runner and he got me into running and then it just snowballed into doing half marathons. I don’t know. It’s just…it’s my stress relief. It’s how I think. I try to run first thing in the morning before anyone is awake. It’s about 4 a.m. It’s early, which means I’m in bed by 8:30 p.m.

And I just recently was notified that I became part of the PR Crew – public relations – for J&A Racing. It’s volunteer but it’s really to help build awareness of the J&A Foundation. They provide scholarships for Title I students to attend the Shamrock Final Mile. Last year they covered eight schools in Virginia Beach. Next year they’re hoping to get all of the elementary Title I schools. So they’re going to sponsor 50 kids from each school. They’re going to give each one of those students running shoes. I taught in Title I schools and I was doing Girls on the Run and running clubs, and a lot of times, they don’t come to schools wearing appropriate shoes to run in. And they also pay for the bus transportation. It’s a phenomenal foundation. Some people don’t understand if they sign up for a race they are not just doing it for themselves but they are helping to provide access to students who may not have access to running.


I’m a huge volleyball fan

I’m a huge volleyball fan. I’ve been coaching volleyball for 10+ years. I coach for Outbreak Volleyball. It’s a travel league. We go all over Virginia, Maryland, D.C. area. The competition is pretty high. I also coach numerous recreational volleyball teams for Great Neck recreational center. Both of my kids have been playing for a long time. I picked up coaching and I just loved it. I had no idea when I first started. I learned so much and just continued to learn the game. The first time my daughter came home mentioning that my other daughter was playing volleyball and she’d like to play with her, I said, “OK.” We signed her up. So I was going to her practices and a lady said, “You’re always here. Do you want to be my assistant coach?” I said, “Well sure, but I really don’t know much about the game,” and she said, “Oh, you’ll learn.” I said, “OK.” Then, the next year she said, “Would you like to be the head coach and I’ll be your assistant?” and I said, “Sure.” That’s where it took off. My daughter got pretty good and she got recruited by a travel club. I was going to her practices where I learned so much as far as what they did. They knew I was a rec coach and they had enough kids to start a second team and that’s where that began and I just took off with it. It’s been my life, but I took a break this year because my job got really busy and I needed a break. The practices are three, four days a week and I put so much into everything I do. I like to do everything the best I can.


I’m excited about learning

I’m excited about learning and having fun in fourth grade

Have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t know really. I have a lot of ideas of what I’m going to be when I grow up. Like a dancer, a singer, a contortionist.

Why a contortionist?

Because I’m very flexible already and I’ve seen Sofie Dossi. She’s the reason why I wanted to do contortion. The first video I watched of her I saw her do contortion stuff and then I fell in love with contortion, so I’m trying to do more of it.


Study the stars

Your shirt says “stay curious.” What are you curious about?

What will next school year be like.

And what do you think it will be like? What are you excited about?

Meeting new people and making new friends.

Have you thought about what kind of job you might like to have?

An astronaut…so I can study the stars.

What do you like about the stars and outer space?

That it’s so beautiful. I want to explore Pluto.

Did I hear that’s no longer a planet?

It’s a dwarf planet.

What about Mars? People may go to Mars. Do you want to go to Mars?

Hmmm… I’ll think it over.


I like going in the pool

I like going in the pool because I like to swim underwater. I have a new snorkel and I have this mask to cover my eyes and my nose. I have a snorkel that’s clear. You put it your mouth, then breathe – up and down. I did that before for a long time.

Like the other day, my sister took me out. I went underwater and then I breathed through my snorkel, and then when I got out then I said, “How was that?” And she said, “Good.”

What grade are you going to be in next year?

Third grade.

No, actually first grade. September 4 I will be in first grade. Then, after a longer time, I will be in third grade. Then fourth grade, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth.

What are you excited about for first grade?

When we go out to the park, we get to go out to the monkey bars. When we were in kindergarten, we couldn’t.

Have you thought about what kind of job you might like to have when you’re older?

A teacher.

Why do you want to be a teacher?

Because I like to learn and tell everyone what to do.


Raising service dogs

I actually got started with service dogs with my family. My mother heard about it and thought: ‘Oh this is an interesting way to kind of give back to the community.’ I was in kindergarten, I believe, when we got our first dog. We have raised nine dogs over the past 25 or so years. Quill is the fifth dog we’ve raised for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). They deal largely with mobility-related issues, people in wheelchairs with prosthetic limbs, but they can do pretty much any type of dog for whatever disability. We’ve also raised four dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Quill is with us until November. We get the puppies when they are 8 weeks old. Most all of the organizations have the puppies raised in volunteer homes. We keep them for about a year-and-a-half. He will then go back to the regional facility in New York and there he will have about six months of professional training. So we’ve taught him the basics. We’ve gotten him socialized. They will take what we’ve done and then build upon that. It’s almost like he’s going off to college. At that point, he will see if he passes and they will place him with a person.

What if he doesn’t pass?

It’s about a 50 percent failure rate because it’s such a demanding program. We had a dog that failed because he was afraid of heights; he wouldn’t go up and down stairs. We’ve had dogs that show anxiety and you can’t really have that – it’s really not fair for the dog. We get the first right of return. If he does not pass, then we can adopt him as his raisers, but if we choose not to, then he will get adopted out. They have a very long waiting list because you’re getting an older dog; usually about a year old who is very well trained and just for whatever reason – it could be a medical issue – it doesn’t work for their program. So the dog can go for public adoption at that point.

What type of training did Quill go through while he was with you?

One of big things that we want done for these dogs is getting them used to different experiences. Just coming to work here with me, he gets to be on an elevator, he gets to be around printers and copiers and there’s all of these people around – a lot is going on. So when he goes out to his working life, there is no situation that is new to him. He’s heard planes going overhead, sirens and all kinds of things. He’s also been to school where my mom works, so he’s been around kids and all sorts of different experiences.

Are you going to get another dog?

We might. We generally take a little break between dogs because it’s a lot of work. I mean, it’s really great and when you go and see them graduate, is it such an amazing experience, but still it’s a puppy that you’ll be getting again. Every couple of hours he has to go out and he doesn’t sleep all night. If we did get another dog we would probably wait until summer when I’m off and we can devote more time.

Would you recommend this to anybody else?

It’s fun to do, but it’s also feeling like you can make a difference. People always ask, ‘Isn’t it hard to give the dog up?’ but to me it isn’t. To me, he’s going to be a pet and he’s going to be a very nice dog that I can take on walks. It’s going to change somebody’s life and I get to see this happen. I have made that happen. The first dog that we raised went to a boy, I think 17 or so, with cerebral palsy. He’s never walked a day in his life and here I am; I’m perfectly healthy. We had another boy who was in kindergarten who had spina bifida. These people need these animals.


My sister

I like when we go outside and play.

Why do you like that part of school?

Because there is a big playground. I think my favorite part is the monkey bars and the pole you slide down.

What else makes you happy?

Does it have to be about school?

No, it can be anything.

It makes me happy when I’m with my sister and she plays with me. She’s 1. I’m teaching her to do stuff like I do stuff. So, she’s playing Barbies with me…I always have somebody to play Barbies and Shopkins and American Girl Dolls with.


Chess is exciting

I’m looking forward to meeting the kids, the community, all the parents, all the teachers – we’ve already had some opportunities to meet with a few teachers and still have some more coming up now. It’s really just being able to create a vision that’s around students and helping them grow and be successful – and not just here, but putting things in place for them to be successful when they get to high school. I think it helps that I have the high school experience and know what the expectations are to be able to implement that here.

The teachers that I’ve met and all the stories that have been told, everyone is all hands on deck – “What  do you need me to do” – and everybody is willing to do what’s needed for kids, which is awesome. It makes it exciting.

Do you have a favorite memory from your own school years?

I graduated from Bayside. I went to Luxford for a year when I came to Virginia Beach, and then I went to Bettie F. Williams, Bayside Middle School and Bayside High School. I’ve been a big guy for a long time. I’ve been six-foot-whatever since…I don’t know how long. Everybody said, “Oh, you want to play football? Oh, you want to play basketball?” When I got into high school, I played football and I didn’t really enjoy it that much. I didn’t really enjoy going to study hall, and down the hall was the chess club. I learned how to play chess when I was in elementary school. There was a guy in our neighborhood. He had computerized chess boards. It was cool because when you had to move, it would tell you where to move the piece and that’s just what you had to do. I learned how to play from him and we’d go over there and he would let us use the chess boards – my brothers and I would play. I didn’t really take it too seriously. I just knew how to play.

So, I’m this big guy walking in (to play chess) and people just think, “Oh.”  And I’m like, “Oh no, I’m good!” That was the best thing. We went to a lot of tournaments. Mark Bland was the German teacher and he was the chess coach. We went to the World Open in Philadelphia. We went to the nationals. We went to the state championships every year. We did a lot of chess tournaments, and I used to love walking in – parents are always there because of their kids and stuff, and here’s this big guy walking in, sitting at table 1 in the front. That was the greatest because I love to do things that people think I can’t do. I love a challenge. I’m super competitive. That was fun. I think, because of my size, people automatically think I’m involved in athletics.

You said you didn’t enjoy football?

I played my sophomore year. I started out at JV and at the end of the year they asked me to move up to varsity. I just didn’t want to. It wasn’t exciting.

But chess is exciting.

Chess is exciting.

I have an app on my phone that I play. I don’t get a chance to play in tournaments anymore because it requires a lot of travel because there are not that many here in the area.

I also enjoy playing volleyball almost more than chess – or about equally. I love volleyball. I played my senior year at Bayside. In fact, Coach Cunningham, I saw him recently at Planet Fitness. He really got me interested in volleyball. It was fun.

Is there anything else people should know about you?

I enjoy my job. I enjoy the work that we do. I enjoy my family. I enjoy my kids and other people’s kids and I try to treat them like they’re mine.


Softball, gymnastics and cheer

My favorite things to do are play softball, do gymnastics and do cheer.

Tell me what you like about all those things.

I like playing in center field at softball because if they hit the ball really hard you could go to left field, you could stay and go to second base, and you could go to right field, too. My favorite thing about gymnastics is uneven bars because you get to twist and turn and flop around. I like cheering because my sister used to do cheer and she won a trophy, and I really like trophies so I like to do cheer.

What grade are you going to be in next year?

I’m going to be in third grade next year.

What are you excited about?

SOL tests. I really like to do work on tests and I just love working.


Professional mermaid

I enjoy drawing even though I know I’m not going to make a living out of it. I can’t draw realistically at all, but I do know some tips about realistic drawing, like how the shoulders have to be wider than a person’s head.

Why do you like drawing?

Because you can draw basically anything you want and it may be hard but it’s not impossible. I usually like to draw things like macaroons and cakes.

Sounds like you like to draw desserts.

Yes, definitely!

Do you have a favorite dessert to eat?

Hmmm…I can’t decide whether I like crème de cacao balls more than brownies. Crème de cocoa balls is this family recipe. It’s supposed to originally be chocolate nut balls but to make it more delicious, I guess, my family put in crème de cacao in it.

I also like downloading apps on my phone that has these pictures; it’s like an online coloring book. You can take these shades; you can take gradients; you can take solid colors and color it. It’s really relaxing and stress relieving – I mean, it’s not that I have stress on me all the time, but it is stress relieving.

Are you excited about being in fifth grade this year?

I mean, I’m excited for fifth grade but I’m not really excited for the end of it because I’ve only been at Holland my whole life and it’s kind of scary to go to another school. I mean some people know what switching schools is like, for kindergarten they’re at one school and then they’re at another school. I was in pre-K here. I know this whole school. I could walk through it blindfolded with my eyes closed and I would still know about it.

Have you thought about what you want to do when you grow up?

Well, I might want to know some French. But I also might want to carry on my mom’s baking business. But the main thing I want to do is to be a professional mermaid – maybe one that even works on the trapeze. It’s an actual professional job. I first saw this when my grandma was on her phone on Facebook and she was like, “Oh, look at your aunt’s cousin and she’s a professional mermaid, she works with the trapeze.” I was like, “Well, I want do that.” But it takes flexible, strong people to work on the trapeze, so I’m probably going to be one of the mermaids in Florida where there are tubes that they get the air from so they can swim in the water longer.

I didn’t even know that job existed.

Yeah. It’s an entertainment job. I’ve always wanted to be a YouTuber or a veterinarian or just something like that. One time I wanted to work at Sea World.

But I just have my mind set on this mermaid thing because getting paid to be a mermaid, like, who wouldn’t want to do that?


Best of both worlds

My father is retired from public service. He is a retired New York City fireman. Growing up he would often talk about work – the built environment, fire codes and safety. I like to understand context of both art and the built environment so that kind of led me down the road not only to architecture but city and regional planning, which kind of looks at the bigger picture, such as how does a building fit into a neighborhood to how does the building fit into the community, what resources are being used and how is that adding to the community.

My main job today is looking at projections in the future [for the school division] and how our student population might grow or decline, and with that, look at our available capacity and where students [live]. We also upkeep attendance zones and related information for the community that could impact those zones. We’re also a liaison for city planning initiatives, such as those dealing with housing and neighborhood preservation.

I love my job. I really enjoy working for the school division. It’s the best of both worlds. As I worked through school I began working in both development and education. I taught in a variety of areas in K-12: special education, English as a second language, home hospital instruction. I have also been an art teacher. So I’ve always gone back and forth with the design aspect, the built environment and the educational aspect. When a job came up with the school division in Facilities Services, it was a perfect fit. I know that the work that I do every day serves the community as a whole and the future of the community as a whole.


Star Wars fan

I’m going to be in second grade next year.

What did you like best about first grade?

That I got to go outside sometimes. And then the last day of school, I got to have bubbles and they had little toys in them. And we got to celebrate outside.

What are you excited about for second grade?

Well, if we go outside sometimes or so. I don’t know. I’ve never been there. I don’t know what they have different.

I see you’re wearing a Star Wars shirt.

Well, I am a fan of Star Wars. I watched “The Last Jedi” like 50 times!

Do you have a favorite character?

Rey. She is really good at things, like using a lightsaber. She was training so she’s gets better and better at it.

Would you like to have a lightsaber?

Well, I already have one, but a real one…I do really want that.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you?

Well, I don’t know. That’s all of the things I have on my mind pretty much right now.


Trial and error

I enjoy a lot of sports and a lot of challenges, that way I can keep my brain active and be successful when I’m an adult.

What’s your favorite subject in school?

Math is my best subject. I used to hate math because I was never good at it, but then one day it clicked because my mom made me study all summer. Then I just got really good at it, so now I’m two years ahead in math.

What advice would you give to other students who are struggling with math?

To just keep trying. It’s all about trial and error.


I want to be an artist

This year I might play baseball or soccer. I have some friends who go to this camp who were in my third-grade class, so I might see them in fourth grade.

What are you excited about for fourth grade?

That I get to meet new people and I get a new teacher.

Have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be an artist because I like to draw things. I’m trying to draw a diamond. It’s good to draw, so when I grow up and I paint they can put it in a museum and people will see all of my art.


Ripple effect

I graduated from Tallwood High School in 2016. Now I’m a junior at Liberty University and I’m studying nursing. One thing that I think is really cool about this [leadership] program…I think I’ve just been learning the value of education and how it’s more than a teacher trying to get something across – it’s more than instruction. It’s about empowering students. It’s believing in and supporting students beyond your curriculum – like, their personalities and supporting differences. For example, we just had our middle school workshop and I’ve seen that if these kids get one person to believe in them, that makes all the difference. That’s just so powerful. We have some goals that we really wanted to get across to them, like the importance of inclusion and reaching out, and we saw a quick turnaround. We teach it in one of the first sessions and by the end of the day we saw middle schoolers being active and already trying to include people. We need to give them a little bit more credit. They’re in this weird, kind of awkward stage in their life, but I think that they have a lot to say.

You must have had people believe in you along the way in school.

For sure. I got involved kind of later in my high school career, but teachers who really love their students, like I’ve been saying, beyond curriculum – it’s just so important to have people older than you,  because you just value their opinion tenfold, when they look you in the eye and say, “I really would love for you to be involved in something I’m in charge of,” that means so much. Like, my SCA adviser from Tallwood, Mrs. Johnson, she’s awesome. I just remember vividly her telling me I should definitely get involved in SCA. Something small like that had this ripple effect [on me] of first, being an SCA officer; then, attending Virginia Beach Leadership Workshop; then, being on staff; then, having this cool opportunity to fall in love again with education and interacting with students. It’s even caused me to shift my focus in college a little bit to nursing education, and I hold a couple tutoring jobs at school. It’s really been a life-changing experience in the true sense.

And what interests you about a career in nursing?

I didn’t want to be a nurse until pretty much November of senior year at Tallwood. I wanted to be an engineer for the longest time. I kind of felt like, one, there was a lot of math and I don’t love math, but also I feel like engineering is, kind of, you focus on your project and then share – it’s more of a personal kind of thing. I was thinking about what else could I do, and I know I have a love for science and how things work, and the insides and outsides of things, and I have a love for people and just service in general. I think that nursing is the perfect blend of serving people but still having science. You’re meeting people and serving them when they’re at their lowest physically, but a lot of time they’re going through something serious that they haven’t dealt with before so they also are at their lowest spiritually and mentally. We call it holistic care, so we’re catering to their physical needs, which is understood when you’re a nursing major, but you’re catering to their spiritual needs and their emotional needs as well. It’s been difficult, but I’ve had more and more clinicals recently. Talking to them is just as impactful as treating them, and I see those kinds of values paralleled in the school system as well.



Especially since I’m the only girl in this CyberCamp, it’s giving me a chance to prove to myself that I can do this since there aren’t a lot of women in this field.

It’s really fun and it’s a real eye-opener…like learning how to program certain things, how to add stuff to a computer, how to protect your documents, especially in a world where we’re really moving on into technology and computers…it’s just a real eye-opener for me.


Helping others be the best that they can be

This is my 25th year. It’s gone really fast. I’ve held six different positions in 25 years and when I started as a fifth-grade teacher, I never thought I would leave the classroom. All my life, all I wanted to do was be a teacher and I loved it. When I think back on all of the positions, they all really are about the same thing – helping others and learning; helping others be the best that they can be and that never has changed. That’s always been my motivation. I’ve always been really lucky to work for administrators that have supported me and encouraged me and allowed me to try new things and allowed me to grow, even when it’s been into new positions. And that’s really what I want for everybody else and that’s what I love about coming to work each day – that I get to help shape a culture and provide opportunities for others to be the best that they can be.

You said you’ve had six positions. What did you do after teaching fifth grade?

I became a computer resource specialist, which now we call an instructional technology specialist. I then became an elementary instructional technology coordinator, and after some years doing that I needed a new challenge, so I switched to high school even though I never taught high school before. Then I came to the Center for Teacher Leadership as the director. A few years ago our office shifted and I moved with the new office to become the Director of Teacher Learning and Leadership. I realize that the teacher aspect is just a small part of what I do because we really are looking at every employee. We don’t stop growing when we graduate from high school or college, and every employee needs an opportunity to continue learning to be better at their position. That’s what our office does and that’s what I think about all the time.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

For the last few years I’ve been in school, plus I have a very busy job, so I feel that for the last few years everything has been: No, I don’t have time for that. So this summer I really have intentionally focused on making the most of my free time. I’m going to the beach, where I wasn’t going to the beach at all in the last few years. Anybody who is asking me to do something, I am saying yes. I’ve gone flying. I’ve taken daytrips places. I really want to make the most of all my time.

Is there anything else you’d want people to know?

I love my job. I’m grateful. I ran into a retired former administrator and I was telling her the division has been really good to me. I really have had great opportunities and they’ve always kind of been a surprise. The computer resource position was created, and I wanted to be part of that. The Center for Teacher Leadership was created, and I wanted to be part of that. It’s never been a plan; it’s just been an opportunity presents itself and I’ve been excited to try new things.


It’s new…everything!

My favorite activities are probably go to places around Virginia Beach with friends, play baseball and play golf.

What do you like to do during the summer?

Going to the beach, to Ocean Breeze, swimming in a pool – pretty much anything with water.

How are you feeling about starting high school?

I don’t exactly know. I have mixed feelings. It’s new…everything! But a lot of friends from PA are going to Kellam so hopefully I’ll see them.

Have you thought about what kind of jobs you might like to have in the future?

People ask me this all the time and I’m not really sure. There are two things I’ve always wanted to do – to be some sort of engineer or a Navy pilot, which would be cool. You get to fly jets and do stuff that an average person doesn’t get to do.


I’m really excited for senior year

I always went to the Kellam field hockey camps, starting when I was in preschool. I always looked up the high school players and I would always watch them do their workouts beforehand. My dad and I would drive in early to see the workouts they would do before the camp, and I would always be like, “I could never do that,” or “I can’t wait until I’m there.” So 10 years later, I’m here at Kellam and playing for the team and captain for the team and able to lead all the younger girls and seeing myself in them – especially the freshmen because I know it was only four years ago and I know the exact position that they are in.

We do preseason all summer. It starts the first summer day after school ends and it’s all the way to the end of the summer. It’s three days a week, and then once we get into August it gets more difficult. We start having practice every single day, two times a day on most days, with preseason games. So it’s a long summer; it’s a very long summer. But it’s nice because we get to wake up at 6 a.m. every morning, so it’s not very different from school so we don’t have the slump. So far, all the girls are blowing me away. This year everyone is very excited at 7 a.m. and they’re all excited to start running and start working out, which is great, especially since we have to wake up early, do a hard workout and then have the rest of the day. But having your friends and your teammates there to support you for the hour is really great.

You’re going into your senior year. What are your feelings about that?

Of course nervous because it’s kind of the last step before college and what life has after that. But I’m really excited for senior year, mostly because I’ll be with some of my best friends and I’ll be taking really good classes. I’m joining a lot of different clubs and I’m part of Senior Class this year as vice president. Being able to plan prom and homecoming, it’s really exciting. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, especially with field hockey.

Have you thought about what you want to pursue as a career?

I want to major in either international relations or international law. I want to be a lawyer for human rights or something along those lines, being able to work globally. I’ve always known I wanted to pursue a career where I could travel but also help people and reach out. I thought that major and career path would be the best to hit both of those points.