After working full-time for the school district in a variety of clerical positions (substitute administrative clerk, personnel administrative clerk, school secretary, administrative secretary, credential analyst) and attending college at night, I completed my Bachelor’s of Liberal Arts degree in a mere seven years. By this time, I was a credential technician, and was well versed with the requirements to enter the classroom through an Internship program. I used vacation days to complete classroom observations and student teaching-type requirements. I was fortunate to work in a district that was on the forefront of the BTSA and Induction program requirements, so I had tremendous resources and support available to help achieve success.
Never one to take the easy road, my first classroom assignment was as a mid-year replacement in a sixth grade position on an elementary campus. Talk about Baptism byfire! I remember asking about books, and the Curriculum Resource Teacher brought me to the book room, and she pointed at a pile. I asked, “Which one?” She calmly said, “All of them.” I never asked her if she was as worried about me at that point as I was; I don’t think I wanted to know the answer. I still look back on this time as one of my greatest accomplishments. I survived! More importantly, I returned, reflective of my teaching, and most importantly, reflective of my students’ learning. I remember thinking about what I was doing--finally having met my goal to become a teacher—and realizing that I could teach all day long, but if they don’t learn, I’m just acting.
While teaching 6th grade, I had the good fortune of working at a school among the first selected to implement AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) strategies in the elementary setting. I was so impressed with the program that I pursued further involvement with the organization and became a National Trainer for AVID Elementary.
I have also had the pleasure and privilege of working as a math lead for myschool sites for the past several years. My passion for mathematics lead me to complete another goal--credential authorization to teach introductory mathematics. This passion has also carried into community involvement as a founding member of the Antelope Valley Mathematics Council, a local affiliate of the California Mathematics Council.
After a few years teaching sixth grade, and then fifth, an opportunity presented itself to meet a new challenge. A school in our district was preparing to implement a turnaround model. I interviewed for a teaching position at Tumbleweed and was excited when offered a position because I knew that the staff would be making ground-breaking changes in education. We have. My contributions to Tumbleweed’s success pale to what a team with common goals is able to accomplish. Working together as part of a Professional Learning Community, our students grew our API 92 points in our first year together.
I am a different type of teacher now. I am stronger with my partners than I ever was alone. My accomplishments and contributions in education are in the successes that my students experience. I believe that the best contribution I could make now would be to inspire another person to become a teacher, through positive modeling and experiences.
It is an honor to have been selected as Palmdale School District’s Teacher of the Year. I appreciate the privilege of representing all the fine educators who work 'above and beyond’ to benefit the students we serve.