Who was your most influential teacher or school leader? Why?
My most influential School Leader is Wayne Green. He was my principal when I first began teaching in Orlando, Florida in 2007. He always taught us through action and modeling. He asked a lot from us, but he gave just as much. He was a principal of few words, but when he spoke it was purposeful. He taught me how to make decisions based on data, but how to understand areas that data could not define. Because of him, I lead fearlessly, and always with the best intentions for our scholars and families. Because of him, I know that feedback and constructive criticism is important to give and more important to be able to take.
What continues to inspire you to remain committed to this work?
I remain committed because of children. I still love to see those "aha" moments in the class and across the school. Those are the moments when a kid says, "I got it." Those are the moments that teachers come to work for, and I am a "forever teacher." I believe in creating a path for children to have a choice to go to college or straight into the workforce. I think they should have a choice; so, we have to prepare them for both. Honestly, I believe there are multiple routes to success for children, and I am not one that believes that college is the only route. I believe that there are many careers that lead to a successful life that doesn't require college, but perhaps adequate training. Because of my beliefs, I remain committed to the field of education with the knowledge that education can be different from the norm.
What is your advice for a new teacher or parent experiencing the challenges due to the pandemic?
My advice for new teachers experiencing the challenges of the pandemic are
- Reflect at the end of each day about the small things that went well and smile.
- Make a note at the end of each day about one thing that you want to work on for the next day, and really focus on it, but don't stress about it.
- Know that teaching is hard and not because it's a pandemic, but every year truly does get better- that is not a lie.
- Speak to your administration about any struggles you are having as soon as you start having them; so you can get support.
- Remember that you are human, and you aren't expected to be anything more. Be vulnerable.
What do you want people to know about your students, families, and your school?
My students are absolutely amazing and so very funny. They bring joy to all of the staff and teachers at our school. We have two events that happen every Friday that everyone in our Helix Aviation Academy Family can't wait to celebrate. Our entire school looks forward to Friday morning Town Hall to Award our kids for all of their hard work and growth throughout the week. Furthermore, our weekly Friday Celebrations are the highlight of every student's week. At HAA we celebrate with the nerdiest celebrations we can think of in order to ensure we are encouraging Innovation, helping them develop the courage to try new things, and bringing out their creativity. Our two most recent celebrations were HAA Scientist Day and Fall Door Decorating. Many of them have also signed up to take their first flight on October the 9th- that is definitely a courageous thing to do for anyone that has never flown. Can't wait to see how many of them will be pilots or aviation professionals because of this moment.
What makes you hopeful about the future?
My staff makes me hopeful about the future. Each of the founding staff members at Helix Aviation Academy shows up every day pushing toward excellence. They are founding a school during a pandemic, and they smile every day. What more could I ask for?
How are you supporting your teachers through difficulties caused by the Pandemic?
The structure of our school provides support. Our students are released every Friday at 12:00 for teacher professional development and teacher planning. Our staff is very appreciative of this structure that allows them time to reflect on their practice and complete all of the many things required of them.
We provide room for error so that teachers can be comfortable trying new things. We have weekly coaching meetings which provide lots of opportunities to not only get support but just talk.
We not only have morning meetings but also end-of-the-day meetings so teachers have an opportunity each day to share any concerns from the day.
We listen to one another and do our best to support each other.