Nobody is holding you back

I love soccer. I’m trying to go pro.  My favorite teams are Manchester United and LA Galaxy. I used to play basketball, but I’m way better at soccer so now I only play soccer. When you’re on the field you feel like you can do anything. Nobody is holding you back. You’re free.

What’s your plan for high school next year?

I’m going to try and go to Kempsville High School’s Entrepreneurship and Business Academy next year. I’m really good at designing stuff, like t-shirts and banners. If I don’t go pro for soccer, I’ll be a designer.

Field Hockey Forward to Neurosurgeon

I play field hockey for the school. I’m a forward – right in the middle of everything. I like it. It’s actually a funny story how I started. I was at a restaurant, saw the coach and we started talking. Coach said “you should get started in field hockey,” so, I did.

I want to be a neurosurgeon. I really want to help people. I started to watch Gray’s Anatomy and learn more about the medical field and it helped me determine what sort of surgeon I wanted to be. Watching the show made me want to learn more.

Third degree black belt

I do taekwondo. I’m a third degree black belt. I’ve been doing it for almost seven years. I actually have a tournament up in Maryland this weekend. My parents started me in it when I was little. I really enjoy it.

I also like art. I got into ODS for the arts program and I start this week and I’m going to go to Virginia Beach Middle to continue art there. We had a summer project and I did my piece in colored pencils and oil pastels, and I just finished that last night. It was a bunch of flowers. It was really colorful. I like things that are colorful.

I knew I wanted to play

I love music and art. Those are two things I absolutely love to do. In second grade I figured out that I loved the instrument, the violin. People from a band came to school and brought a bunch of different instruments and let us play with them. As soon as I touched the violin, I knew I wanted to play it. I had to wait until fifth grade, then I was able to take Strings, and I haven’t stopped playing since. I’m hoping that I’m able to take orchestra as an elective, to continue doing that, because I really love it.

For me, music helps me a lot with memorizing. I’m not usually good at memorizing dates or stories, so I memorize songs that contain the information that I need.  That’s how I remember things.

I’m a sneaker head

My dad was in the marines, and I want to join too. My sister is going to Navy boot camp in February, but I want to go in the Marines because they are the first ones in and last ones out.

I play a lot of games that help me prepare for boot camp. People say it rots your brain, but I think it helps you prepare for certain scenarios. I’m really picky about my games. I like high quality graphics. I hate when a game is pixelated.

I’m a huge sneakerhead. I love sneakers and I keep the ones I own in good condition. I also draw sneakers that I really like or that I would like to buy some day. I draw them and put them on my binder.

Decorating with Duct Tape

I’m in the Spanish Immersion Program. The teachers don’t really teach you Spanish, but they speak in it so that you pick it up. I knew a little Spanish before I started the program because my brother went through it before me and taught me some.

Did you enjoy your summer break?

We went to Colorado the week before school started. My family has an R.V., we don’t like camping in a tent. I also did a camp in August called Decorating with Duct Tape! and made a pair of slides, it was a lot of fun.  The soles were made with a piece of cardboard and the rest was just Duck Tape. We got to pick each day what we wanted to make.

I did soccer and swim team, too.

I’m a Seminoles fan

I have two boys.  My oldest is into baseball and soccer, so I do a lot of driving to baseball and soccer. I’m a soccer mom! Our family also enjoys watching sports on T.V., so we watch football on Saturdays and Sundays.  I went to Florida State University so I’m a Seminoles fan.

My husband is in the Navy. We been moving between Florida and Virginia Beach.  We started out in Florida, got orders to Virginia Beach, then went back to Panama City for three years, now we are back here.

Virginia Beach is a great place to teach because of the supports put in place and resources that they have. In my experience elsewhere, you are on your own for certain things and have to go out and find, but here all you have to do is ask, and you have a lot more of what you need provided for you.

That’s really my day

I’m new to Christopher Farms Elementary this year. There is a lot of school spirit here. It feels like a family.  Being new to a school and trying to figure out how things are handled and the different way they do things – everyone’s been so helpful.  It’s been amazing.

What do you do outside of work?

I love to play tennis. If I’m not playing tennis, I’m hanging out with my new baby or my two dogs.  That’s really my day.

I started playing tennis since I was seven. I played all through high school and was recruited for college, but didn’t play.  Then I picked it back up when I moved down here – I’m originally from Michigan.  After college I got a job and moved down here.  The weather here is much better than Michigan.

Baseball and diamonds

I went to Camp Silver Beach this summer. You stay there for a week and you zip line, archery, riflery and a bunch of other stuff.  I really liked riflery, I shot a dog tag. A BB bounced back and hit me in the leg. It hit off of the wood. It hurt, well, it just stings.

I went to Myrtle Beach this summer for a baseball tournament. We got first place.  We all got a trophy.  It has a baseball and diamonds on in. Diamonds, like, from a jewelry store. We crushed one team 27 to nothing.  I started in that game.

I tutor adults in ESL

I enjoy my free time. I’m a part of a running club. Last year I ran two half marathons that I trained with the team.

I also enjoy painting – acrylic, and drawing – pastels.  One of my paintings was displayed at the MOCA.

I also tutor adults in English. I have a few friends who have relatives who are coming to the States and they need help figuring out the transition coming into a different country, but also the language. I have a master’s in ESL (English as a Second Language) from Regent University, and so now I tutor adults in ESL.

Also, my husband and I like going hiking, jet skiing, going on road trips – when we can find sitters for our dogs!

Fishing is my favorite

I’m really excited to be in second grade this year.  It’s going to be way better than first grade because you get to do things first graders aren’t allowed to. We are treated like bigger kids.

What about second grade excites you the most?

I don’t know yet, I just started.

What do you do when you aren’t at school?

This weekend I’m going fishing with my dad.  We went fishing Thursday afternoon and caught a catfish and a bluegill. I don’t go fishing in the ocean, just ponds and lakes by my house.

My mom doesn’t go fishing with us because my dad only has one fishing pole. Well, he has a fishing pole, but the reel is broken.  So, he’s going to buy another one, then my mom can start coming.

Fishing is my favorite thing, but I also like going to the beach.  We went a lot this summer.

Who doesn’t want glowing bees

When you give kids technology for the first time – the reaction – their faces light up.  When they open their Chromebook for the first time it’s magic.

And it’s just fun! Who doesn’t want glowing bees? You can code them, and they’re Bluetooth. They are fun, but at the same time we can say, ‘How do we bring this into the curriculum.’

What do you do outside of the classroom?

I have a chocolate lab named Beau who takes over my life. I spend time with him. I am an active Yogi. I go to yoga as much as I can. It helps me keep my zen.  And I teach mindfulness and meditation here every morning.

It makes for a good work-life balance, it’s an ebb and flow.

My next step is to teach teachers

I followed in my dad’s footsteps and went through the apprenticeship program at the shipyard. I worked there for 13 years. I came home one day and told my wife, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to teach.” So I had three part-time jobs, and was going to college. One of my daughters was attending ODU, the other was going to Texas A&M, and I went to Norfolk State all at the same time. My son was still in high school.

I graduated and started teaching at Thoroughgood Elementary and taught the same grade in the same classroom for 21 years.

After experiencing the impact of transformational learning, I started to realize maybe my next step is to teach teachers.

What do you do outside of work?

My son and I do blacksmithing. We just took 23 of the Instructional Leadership Team to my farm in and had them blacksmith. They made dinner bells.

Twisting metal, banging metal, it is a bonding experience.

We took a class in the 757 Makerspace and we forged a clever. After that, we got the bug. We bought one anvil, then two anvils, then three anvils. Once we get into something, we really get into it.

We live on a farm so we have always been craftsman and work with our hands.

Interested in health sciences

I’ve started to be interested in health sciences. Anatomy is just kind of cool to me. Bones are interesting to me.


For me, I think it’s kind of cool how bones make up a structure. Like, your teeth are your strongest bones and I don’t think of it that way. I would think that your knee or something you use more, like your feet, but it’s your teeth.

I guess I became interested in this because I broke my arm and I had to get surgery and they had to fix my bones. They said it was really confusing because I have tiny bones because I am small so they had trouble with that.

I want to be a bone doctor – an orthopedist.

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

I just made the cheer team, so now I’m going to be doing that. And I was swimming over the summer; I’m on a swim team.

What are you most looking forward to about your eighth-grade year?

Probably the teachers because I like having new teachers every year. It’s nice to see all their different styles of teaching, like visual. With lectures, I’m not very good with that. They don’t really lecture here. It’s good.


Opportunities to collaborate

I previously taught seventh grade math for nine years here at Great Neck. The first year that the ITS/TST role was born I started talking with my ITS here about what is the process and what do they do. I started talking to one ITS in particular – this was before everyone had Google accounts – he somehow got me a Google account and I started using Google Classroom and G Suite tools with my students and I was just obsessed. I loved it.

What’s your favorite part about being an Instructional Technology Specialist?

My favorite part of being an ITS is being everywhere. I’m in so many different people’s classrooms. I get to talk and collaborate with so many different grade levels, subject areas, and people outside the division. I have the chance to be on the Anchor School Committee. I’m on the Summer Digital Learning Summit Steering Committee. There are so many opportunities to collaborate with people.

What do you do outside of work?

I recently got engaged in December and I have done nothing up to a month ago, so I am crazy planning for a wedding happening next summer. I also just completed my master’s degree in May of this year.

Academic support coordinator

I came to Virginia Beach about 3.5 years ago as the academic support coordinator. I previously worked in Norfolk as the literacy coordinator for K-12. I worked in Norfolk for over 20 years.

What do you like best about your work?

I like everything about my job because it gives me the opportunity to…I get to meet elementary people, middle school, high school with the reading inventory, which is one of the things I oversee – all of our students take it, grades 3-9. Academic support is intervention and acceleration programs. With the acceleration part of it I get to work with AP and our NMSI grants and those types of things. I’ve been introduced to federal grants. I also assist with Title II and Title IV. I like it because I feel like, although everything that I do is not connected, I get the opportunity to learn so much. I’m grateful for that.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

When I’m not at work I’m definitely running around with my two kids. The typical soccer mom and baseball mom and track mom and all those types of things.

Do you have a favorite school memory?

I’m a product of Virginia Beach Schools. I graduated from Kempsville. I went to Woodstock Elementary, Kemps Landing, Kempsville Middle, Kempsville High School. And my favorite teacher, Dick Ponti, works here. I think he was my favorite teacher because I hated math and I was horrible at math, but I felt like he liked us. Sometimes you go in a classroom and you’re not sure if a teacher likes you, and we all know now that students work better when they know their teacher cares about them. So, I think he knew that early on. And even when we struggled, we knew that he cared and he wanted us to successful.

And did that make math easier?

It didn’t make math easier but it made me more successful because I knew he wasn’t going to let me fail.

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

I think people always say, “Well, how did you end up doing that?” I just think, I always say, “Yes.” I think that’s good because it opens you up to so many different experiences. I’ll be able to take the work that I do with grants or the work that I do with AP or interventions, and I think that all of that will just make me a better educator.


I’ll tell you a story

I think the purpose of the ITS program is to build capacity. It’s about me helping them get their task done and make their ideas work.

I’ll tell you a story.

Last year when our school went 1:1 we decided to teach each and every student how use Google sites to make a digital portfolio. One day I go and meet with this class of sixth graders and they are sitting in pairs. Each pair is working on something, a topic, to teach their peers in their class. Their teacher calls me their consultant and I go by each group and see what they are planning. I’m their cheerleader and I’ll tell them, “that’s really exciting, you’ll have to share that with me.”

A young man and a young lady had come up with the idea to make a website using Google site because they remember using it when making their digital portfolio. So, six weeks later, I’m sitting at my desk planning and I get an email. They had shared their Google site with me and wanted to know what I thought, and it’s awesome. They remembered I said I was interested in seeing their site. I notice a little something they could change, they could change their YouTube video about Newton’s Laws they inserted so it plays automatically. I fixed one. Their class was meeting then so I ran upstairs to them and said, “Did you see what I did?” And I showed them how I fixed it.

They took what we taught them with their digital portfolio and made it their own. They took it another place and then they shared it with me because I showed interest. They invited me to be a collaborator, and that’s an honor – to be invited.

It was amazing one of them built the site up and the other created animations of Newton’s Law. I had chills up my arms.

What do you do outside of work?

My husband and I like to play heavy card board games. Strategy games with a lot of rules and depth to what you are doing. We have a floor to ceiling bookshelf full of board games. We have a lot that we can play and we play with other people. We like the competition of them, we like the nomadic nature of them and the artwork. We joined the Tidewater Area Gaming Society that meets at the Meyera Oberndorf Library, TAGS, it’s an organization for people who like board games. It’s stimulating intellectually and also has the social aspect of it. We love it.

My dream job

I am a graduate of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I went to Point O’View Elementary School and then Kempsville Junior High and Kempsville High School. What I love about Virginia Beach and being in the division is that I’ve had the opportunity to work with former teachers. One, Debbie Price, was my sixth-grade English teacher and we were assistant principals together at Landstown Middle School, which was really cool.

After high school I went to Old Dominion and decided I really had a knack for working with teenagers because in high school I was in marching band. I did color guard and I worked as an instructor in college. I realized there I liked working with teenagers so I might as well get my teaching certificate while I’m working on my English degree, and that’s how I got into education.

I started in Norfolk City Schools for two years and then I went to Ocean Lakes High School. I went to Landstown High School when it opened and I was there for 8.5 years until I became an administrator at Landstown Middle School for five years. Then came to central office in my dream job, which is secondary English coordinator.

Why is it the dream job?

I get to do all the things I love about being an administrator and a teacher together. I get to work with administrators. I get to work with teachers. I get to help teachers. I also get to be a resource, a consultant and give them new ideas, delivering the professional development and I get work with students, too. I like go into classrooms and help them with the writing piece and do writing conferences and even tutor to help get some of our students ready for the SOL test. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. I get to work with the students, teachers and administrators, which I love all three of them.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

We have a daughter that we adopted at 3 months old and she is the light of our lives. We take her everywhere. Since we had to travel first thing when we got her, she’s traveled with us everywhere. We like to camp and fish and boat and anything outside, so the child enjoys swimming and it is a strength of hers. Most recently she’s been horseback riding, so that’s been a cool event for the entire family to participate in.

She starts at Kingston Elementary School this year. Now I get to see the fruits of the efforts of the school division I work in. I’m excited to see her go through this journey and how I’m going to transition to the role of a parent.


Last year marching with the band

I’m going to be a senior. It’s going to be my last year marching with the band so that will be fun. I’m also in the Math and Science Academy and so I have my research project, which is coming along so I’m excited to compete with that. Plus, I have just some of my favorite teachers this year, so I’m excited about that.

Do you want to tell me a little more about your research project?

I worked with Dr. Cooper, he’s a professor at ODU; I worked in his lab. It was a project on chemistry involving using silver nanoparticles to create special surfaces that basically make an instrument function better.

What do you play in the band?

I march tuba and I also play alto saxophone in concert band. I really love our band director, Mr. Parker. He’s just really good teaching us how to use our years and really think about how we’re doing music. And plus, it’s just so much fun being around 50 of your closest friends and working on a project.


I want to be a physical therapist

My favorite subject is probably math because I just like math a lot and that’s my best subject. And I liked English because I liked my sixth-grade teacher a lot, but it wasn’t my best subject. It was still really fun because my teacher made it fun, and it was her first year there so that made it fun, too.

What are you looking forward to about the new school year?

I’m looking forward to what teachers I’m going to have and I’m looking forward to making new friends. I’m probably going to try out for track again and I’m excited about that.

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

I like to hang out with my friends and swim in my nana’s pool. I like to go on my trampoline and tumble and do gymnastics, and I play with my brother and our new kittens. I play with the kittens a lot. Their names are Bruno and Rudee. They’re very sweet. We have a 15-year-old cat and she does not like them too much, but they’re going to have to learn to get along.

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

Yes, when I get older I want to be a physical therapist. Then, on the side, I want to either volunteer at the SPCA or I want to be a part-time gymnastics coach. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I just like helping people and I’ve always wanted to be one of those kind of coaches that helps injured people.


Respect for our division

I taught 14 years and they were all at Plaza Middle. It’s funny, whenever I go to Plaza now, Sheraton Woodies, he’s the head custodian there, he tells me: “Welcome home.” It’s the sweetest thing. Plaza is very much home.

I’ve worked in all the schools pretty much now. One of the things that I feel is so important is, when we go out to professional development anywhere – if it’s a state conference or a national conference – I feel like people gravitate towards people in Virginia Beach because we’ve already been doing so much. We go to conferences and it’s almost validation for the work we do, and I think that says a lot for the kind of professional development we get in our division from the experts here. I was taught by some of the best. I feel like we have such strong leadership in secondary schools. I have just a lot of respect for our division and I’m happy that I’m here.

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

I read – that’s mostly what I do, or just meet up with friends. Just being a teacher and in the central office, I’ve met so many people and I’ve created strong networks of friends. I think that has been a blessing as well. The people that I work with are so amazing. They’re inspiring. Being with them and having discussions. I love being with my friends and having good conversation.


I like to color

I like to skate and I like to color. I like to skate because…I don’t know, it’s just a thing that I like. It’s almost hard because sometimes if you go really, really fast, you’ll fall. I just like it as a hobby.

And what about coloring?

Coloring is an everyday thing that I do if I’m bored or something. It’s my life because when I grow up I want to be a person who draws portraits. Me and my friend were planning to make a company, a drawing company. So if people need portraits or something to cover up their walls, they can call us and we’ll give them a portrait for $3.00.

How did you come up with $3.00 for the price?

Because $3.00 is for the small size, and $6.00 is for the medium, and $10.00 is for the large.

Is there anything else we should know about you?

Another interest of mine is playing outside. Me and my friend make up ideas that are really, really funny.

Like what?

One time, me and my friend were randomly talking about Busch Gardens because I had just been and then we pretended like the upstairs was a ride on Busch Gardens. And sometimes we pretend like we’re at the aquarium and the aquarium has rides. Like sometimes, we do rides that are just calm rides with fish and pretend we’re in the lazy river, and sometimes we have fast rides and pretend sharks are jumping up.


Digital designer

Eventually in life, one of the career paths I would like to choose is digital designer. Being able to design things for, well, basically anything – like, things that can help people in specific environments, things that can help people in their everyday lives and being able to provide the technology that’s necessary to some people.

What has inspired you to consider that career path?

To be honest, I’ve been interested in art and one of the things that I like generally is biology and how things in nature work. So one day – I don’t even know how it popped into my mind – but I just thought certain things in nature could be applied to specific cases in human lives. I thought that would be a great thing to apply and have be your skill.

What is an example in nature you’ve seen?

Specifically, birds. I’m not a birdwatcher, but it’s interesting to see how many designs in our world – trains, for instance – are based on bird design and how they fly. And especially consider airplanes, the entire basis of airplanes is on that birds can fly, we should probably do that, too.


I love working with my team

I’ve been with the division for eight years now and this is my 10th year in education. I started off teaching in Virginia Beach at Providence Elementary. I taught fifth grade there and then I was an instructional technology specialist at Pembroke Meadows and Shelton Park, and then I came to Teaching and Learning.

What do you like about working in education or your current role specifically?

I think that my current role has really helped things come full circle for me in education. I actually started off as a political science major in college because I wanted to really be able to make a difference. I quickly realized that politics was not the avenue for me with that and so that’s why I pursued education.

In my current role I’m able to work with teachers and students and really think about how learning for them can be relevant and authentic and make a positive impact on the world.

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

We like to spend as much time outdoors as possible. My husband and I have two kids. We spend a lot of time at the beach, at Pleasure House Point, doing recreational sports – Virginia Beach has so much to offer as far as the outdoors. We like to be outside.

Is there anything else we should know about you?

I love working with my team. We have, I think, a really good team in elementary. There are hard days but being able to work with the team I work with really lifts you up and motivates you to do be able to do more.


I like doing hair

I’m going to be in third grade. I’m excited about learning multiplication. I’m excited to see who my new teacher is going to be.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of school?

When I get home from school on the weekdays I go outside and play with my friends, or me and my friend will have a sleepover. She will come over to my house or I will go to her house.

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

I want to be a hairstylist when I grow up. I like doing hair and I think I’m good at doing hair.


I’m very excited for senior year

I’m very excited for senior year. I used to be a really shy student and now I’m going to be Senior Class President and I’m on the SCA Executive Board and I’m part of new student orientation. I’m really excited because SCA does a lot of stuff at this school and I’m hoping to use my class presidency and my position on SCA to help benefit both organizations.

How so?

So, SCA puts on an event called Fall Fest, and this year I’m asking to have the seniors do a senior haunted hallway. That will give money to my class but will also put a new twist on Fall Fest.

Have you thought about careers that interest you?

I want to join the Peace Corps. I want to go to college for zoology and something else, I’m not sure yet, and I want to work in the Peace Corps and work in orphanages. And then I want to work on animal reservations.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I would like to talk about my four favorite teachers. I call them the “Core Four” because I believe they run the school low key because they put on a lot of things. Two of them are SCA advisers, Mrs. Anderson and Ms. Conaway, and then Ms. Hurst, an English teacher who helps put on leadership workshop, and Mrs. Pohl, who also does leadership workshop, and the four of them are the best. They’re really great to students and they do a lot for the school.


I like to be fabulous

What are some of your favorite things to do?

I like to play Fortnite.  I like the color blue because it’s the sky. And I like to be fabulous!

How are you fabulous?

I put makeup on and I curl up my hair. And my Nonna she teaches me every way that she is fabulous because she IS fabulous.

I see you are wearing a Patriots jersey. Are the Patriots fabulous?


Why is that your favorite team?

Because Tom Brady and Gronkowski’s on it.

And have you thought about a job you might like to have when you’re older?

I actually wanted to be like – and I think I’m pronouncing this right – a meteorologist. I want to predict and study the weather.

Do you have a favorite type of weather?

I like water spouts. They’re fun.