One Day,

I hope our primary focus is to produce productive citizens and good human beings…

What or who inspired you to become an educator?

It is important to note that I was by no means a “good student.” My childhood with my mom caused me severe anxiety and eventually evolved into school phobia. However, my high school guidance counselor, Mr. Boissy, had a major impact on my academic and personal life. At that time, I lived alone at sixteen years old. Finishing high school was certainly a challenge for me. If I did not show up at school, Mr. Boissy would bang on my door and personally drive me to school. Mr. Boissy never judged me nor questioned my situation or choices. He was a wonderful and dependable person that I could trust.

After earning a degree in Communication Disorders from the University of Pittsburgh, I decided that this career was not my lifelong vocation. Shortly thereafter, I applied for a paraprofessional position at Ingomar Elementary School in the North Allegheny School District. In this district, I first worked in the Learning Support and Emotional Support classroom. Oddly, I fell in love with education and working with students that had challenges to overcome. The principal, Dr. Tammy Andreyko, encouraged me to obtain my teaching certification. Once I started my student teaching, under the supervision of Mrs. Barbara Werner, I knew that working with students was where I was destined to be.

What roles have you had in the sphere of education?

As a substitute teacher I taught many grade levels. However, as a contracted teacher, my experience was teaching 5th grade students.

I have worked as a paraprofessional, a grade five teacher, a middle school assistant principal and an elementary school principal. I have also mentored a number of school principal interns from the University of Pittsburgh. In addition, I have served on an educational board for the University of Pittsburgh and facilitated a data analysis discussion in Hershey, PA.

Why are you still in the field of education?

I am still in education because I love working with children and families. My philosophy is that social and emotional well-being should be the primary focus. Even though the focus has seemed to center around standardized test scores, I continue to stay true to my philosophy. While I understand accountability, I choose to focus on the individual growth of my students and to celebrate every little success. The little successes are what sometimes make the largest difference in a student’s life. I have been quite fortunate to work alongside the most talented educators. This has allowed me to learn and grow professionally throughout the years.

One day what do you hope for?

One Day I do hope for the Department of Education and our political representatives to focus on the mental health of our children and to provide access to our students and families. I also hope for a parental accountability piece that ensures that there is a protocol in place to hold the adults accountable for the welfare of our children. Another hope is that we can eliminate high-stakes testing. Again, I believe in accountability but not at the expense of taking away the teaching of skills that will make our children productive citizens and good human beings.