In the spring of my career
I began my illustrious teaching career in New Orleans in the fall of 1997 as an uncertified special education teacher after spending a week as a camp counselor for children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Prior to teaching, I was enrolled in a counseling program with the desire to be a school-based therapist. In education, the prospect of planting seeds of knowledge to germinate into future leaders of tomorrow.
As I entered the profession, I had no foundation in the fundamentals of teaching and learning. After accepting the position, I enrolled in graduate school to earn my teaching certification along with a Master’s degree. I was dedicated to my craft and determined to empower myself with knowledge as I gained experience as a teacher. I also attended local conferences and seminars to immerse myself in the pedagogy of education.
Early in my career, I recognized my innate ability to connect with parents. Instinctively, they felt comfortable discussing their lives and families with me as I gave them encouragement and advice. Because I had so much compassion for the parents, I always created a safe space for them.
At the end of two years, I noticed how drained I was despite all of the intrinsic rewards I received from being an educator. Even though I found joy in teaching, I also felt depleted by the negative energy that permeated the building.
Feeling the heat of summer
Onto the next adventure, I left the field of education and enrolled in a second undergraduate program in journalism for 18 months. I loved writing and wanted to pursue a career in it. However, after graduation, I accepted a teaching job after a former colleague offered me a position.
I recall breaking the news to my professors about returning to the education field rather than pursuing a career in journalism on the last week of finals before graduation. One professor told me he wasn’t surprised I was returning to education. When I asked why he felt this way, he replied, “I read your papers.” It was at the moment I realized that I really never left as education was often the focus of my assignments.
After Hurricane Katrina ravished my city, I spent three years teaching in Charlotte leaving behind a position in a school that I loved with a wonderful team. Through my experiences out of state during those years, I discovered how much commonality existed among school communities, even ones that were 750 miles apart.
Falling into the autumn of my career
I returned to New Orleans in 2008 and accepted a service-based scholarship in pursuit of a doctorate of Special Education in August 2009. It was culmination of my passions: education and writing.
By this time, I moved out of the classroom into other positions. I valued my roles as a teacher coach, parent advisor, and school-based resource for administrators in all the different settings. I was able to experience teaching and learning in different types of schools from preschool through high school.
In 2011, I accepted a position at a charter school as a Special Education Coordinator. Although it was delving into the unknown world of charter organizations, I had a strong intuition that being at that school would change my life.
That school year I spent in the charter was the quickest year of my life filled with long hours implementing a massive overall of the school. The organization that ran the charter school acquired it as a “takeover” and set out to transform the legacy of failing scores.
I met the most amazing people at the charter from all walks of life. The young teachers who moved to New Orleans to be a part of a transformational shift of public education inspired me and the veteran teachers who stayed behind amazed me. The relationships I built still exist today.
In the summer of 2012, both my boss and I were asked to apply for jobs back in a traditional charter school system. We both left. This time, the job as a special education school specialist would last four years with two different bosses and titles yet similar responsibilities.
Looking back, those years were pivotal years of experience that catapulted me into the level of “expert” in the field of Special Education as everything I had learned and experienced was amalgamating. It was at that time that I graduated and became an official Doctor of Philosophy.
The winter cold freezes
My final stop in public education was an opportunity that first came to me as a consulting job in a startup charter school that was recommended by my old boss. I was hired to assess the state of compliance but ended up just fixing it. The initiative I took forged a natural segue into a full time job as the Director of Special Education. After 20 years, starting out as an uncertified teacher, I was given the opportunity to build my own program from the ground up. I had finally reached the top.
During those last years, I realized how much of a need there was to provide guidance to parents, families, students, and teachers from someone who spent over two decades in the trenches learning, growing, and evolving while pursuing the top degree in the field.
Asking veteran educators when it is time to leave, they have all stated that “you just know.”
Being a natural leader, communicator, and educator provided me with the ability to experience opportunities with students, parents, administrators, and communities that have profoundly impacted my professional and personal life.
Time to plant new seeds for the garden of the future
I offer my wisdom, knowledge, and experience to others. I am the Educational Epistolary.