What does it mean to have Lincoln’s newest middle school named after you?
It is such an honor; I am so very grateful. I am seldom without words, but “such an honor” doesn't begin to capture what this feels like. A middle school – the students with whom I began my teaching career – those students “in the middle” always challenged, amazed, engaged and captivated me. I share this honor with middle school students, teachers and leaders everywhere. Being a part of these young people’s “growing-up years” is the best honor of all.
Who has inspired you?
I am inspired by women of all times and all ages who have brought their minds and their souls and their best efforts every day to make the world a better place, a more fair place, a place with opportunities for their children, a world that is kind and caring, and that protects the vulnerable and the tender. So many women – my mother, my grandmothers and aunts, and by name, Alice, Ann, Kathy, Barb, Mary, Molly, Kim, Kay, Chelsea, Lisa, Carol, Kim, Marge, Olha, Xiaoqian, and the list goes on. These are women who are smart, brave and wise. They have worked hard, loved deeply, and … they have persisted.
Whom do you hope to inspire?
I hope that those with whom I work, and live, and learn, feel encouraged and supported and know that their futures are filled with possibilities.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is growing and developing others, being true to mission and assuring that that which is most important is always at the forefront. Leadership is helping all shine a bright light in the darkness. Leadership is a strong voice when necessary, and leadership is supporting others to find their voice.
What is your favorite quote or motto?
From Martin Luther King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you?
My high school English teacher, Mrs. Teter, wrote a comment on my senior paper, encouraging me to use the same organizational skills I used in that paper when I wrote my dissertation someday. It was the first time it had ever occurred to me that I could pursue doctoral work at some time. I am reminded again and again of the power of encouragement.
What’s the highlight of your career?
Every graduation is a highlight – it’s the visible evidence of work done well by every member of the learning community, including students, faculty, staff members, leaders, parents and community members. And all that effort is captured in every single student who crosses the stage and receives a diploma.
How have you changed over the course of your career?
I hope that I have changed my focus from developing my skills to developing others. I hope that I am better able to take the long view, to speak with more care, to listen more carefully and to see the perspectives of others, especially those whose life experiences are not my own. I hope that I have a greater sense of urgency for what truly matters. What has not changed is mission – I believed 45 years ago that teaching and learning are the two most important tasks that happen every day in our community, and I believe that to my very core today.