Teacher at Leesburg High School
Journey into teaching: I began my career as a parole officer and then became a stay-at-home mom. I had a degree in criminal justice, so I decided to serve as a substitute teacher for seven years. My mom said I should become a full-time teacher and told me she would pay for my college tuition if I went back and earned an education degree. I graduated at age 35 and landed my first full-time teaching job at Rimes Elementary.
Shaping tomorrow’s leaders: I have been a teacher for 22 years. Today, I teach a class to ninth-grade students that focuses on giving them hope and what it means to be successful. Sam Allen, a former student who was in my very first class at Rimes Elementary, comes back periodically to speak to my students about having hope for tomorrow.
Head of the class: Teaching is not my job or career; it is my passion. Where else could you come to work every morning and have kids running up to you and hugging you? Another thing about me is I love kids who are unlovable to other people. They make me smile all day.
Pet peeve: Bullying. Whether it’s a grumpy customer yelling at a cashier or a student getting bullied, I cannot stop myself from saying something. Bullying is not tolerated in my classroom.
Inspiration: I maintain an album of every letter that current or past students have written to me. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I begin reading those letters and things instantly get better.
Something nobody knows about you: I can burp the “ABC’s” and whistle without moving my lips.
Desired tombstone inscription: “She tried to save the world, one kid at a time.”
In five years: I won’t allow myself to think about how many more years I will teach because retirement is not in my immediate plans. God is not finished with me at Leesburg High School.
If I were an animal: I would be a cardinal because a cardinal is bright, it stands out, and it is aggressive. I have no problem standing up for what is right.
Favorite junk food: Ice cream. After I won Lake County’s 2012 Teacher of the Year award, several friends and I left the ceremony and drove straight to Twistee Treat.
Worst grade you ever made: In fifth grade I made a “D” in history. I moved to a new school in the middle of fifth grade, and the history class was studying the Civil War. I had an attention deficit problem and had difficulty paying attention to the subject matter.
Natural born teacher: Named Lake County’s 2012 Teacher of the Year. She was also named Lake County’s Beginning Teacher of the Year in 1993.
In distinguished company: Recipient of Lake-Sumter State College’s 2013 “Distinguished Alumni Service to Education” award. Also received the University of Florida College of Education’s “Distinguished Educator” award in 2013.