I love music and children

I’d say what drives me to want to be a teacher is that I love children and I want to help them. But I also love my music, so I thought it would be awesome to give back to them with music. That’s my story. It’s all about music and children. I love that not only does music benefit you intelligence wise, it is another way to express yourself. Students that we reach out to, music is their way of speaking. I’m glad I can give them that chance to feel welcomed. It’s a whole new environment for them.

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My students are from all over the world

My students motivate me because my students are from all over the world. As an English as a Second Language teacher, I just love to hear about their lives before they came here and how their lives are different now that they are here. Just comparing and contrasting the things in our lives that make us different but also point out those things that are the same despite our languages, despite our home countries or where our families are from. Ultimately, we all want the same things out of life and that motivates me every day. To come to work and be prepared to give them the best that I have, that’s what motivates me.

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Luckiest person in the world

I am a mother of twins, a grandmother of twins, a wife of 42 years and a teacher of almost 40 years. In fact, I don’t think teaching is any longer my career; it’s who I am. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in the world. I have the best job. I have survived two cancers so every day is a second chance for me. I have amazing children. I have amazing grandchildren. I have a husband who has supported me all the way through everything. I have students who still run across malls to say ‘hi’ and keep in touch over all the years. You never know when students come in every year what you’re getting. It’s like every one of them is a different little package and it’s my job to open that package. Basically, what you really need to do is give somebody a chance to let them know you and you know them and then the magic is there. That’s all you have to do.

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Teaching first grade

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The coolest thing about teaching first-grade is all of the cool kids I have had throughout the years. It’s surpassed my expectations, and it’s been very different than what I thought when I first started. I definitely felt called to be a teacher. I have different experiences every day. It’s the students that touch my heart the most. It’s more than I could have ever imagined. And seeing the little guys come back and visit me, talk to me and give me hugs  ̶  I love it!

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Your work is your signature

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I started with Virginia Beach City Public Schools in 1992 as the director of vocational education. One of the most inspiring comments I had from a student was an apprentice I hired to run some ducting and air conditioning system into a house I built. He was a graduate and I remember saying to him, “This is some of the finest work I’ve ever seen. I’m just amazed.” He said, “Well, my teacher taught me that my work is my signature. That’s what I’m presenting to you today.” Still to this day, it works magnificently!

You want people who have that same type of forethought that their work is their signature. Whether it’s a teacher, a principal, a director, a superintendent or an electrician, a carpenter, an auto mechanic, a nurse, a doctor, it doesn’t matter. If we can instill that in people, we’re going to be a better country; we’re going to be a better city.

We’ve been able to break down barriers. You tell me that a high school student can’t do this. That’s what floats our boat, when we can get something a high school student can do and can get a credential; can work with a robot; can build unimaginable things that we had no idea that a high school mind could do. You just turn them loose on 3D printers and different things, and now we’re cascading that line of thought down. We didn’t think elementary kids could blossom on a 3D printer. Well, guess what? They are. So those are some lessons we’ve learned over time that feed the minds and brains of these kids who want to succeed. Male, female, ethnicity ̶ doesn’t matter. We say: Let’s create the future. That’s what we’re trying to do.

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I love people

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I started with Virginia Beach City Public Schools as a substitute. From there I was hired as an assistant, and then I moved to the office. I did have the opportunity to be a long-term sub for a fourth-grade class, which I enjoyed, and then I came here. I’ve been here at North Landing for 16 or 17 years. I love my job. I am a social person. I love people. I think I’m in the right position. Even with my job, I have the opportunity to do outside things. I dance at my church. I do a dance ministry for women 35 and up. My oldest member is 72. Right now we’re in the process of preparing for a play. Even though it is a dance ministry, it’s also helping people  ̶ helping others find out who they are, what they like to do; helping them overcome some things in their lives that they’ve gone through.

I love working with people. I have a degree in psychology with a minor in human services counseling. I’m going to pursue something in that later, but I think what I do involves that – psychology and working with people. I love life. I love the things that make up life. I love helping people.

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