The kids who were in fifth grade when I was at Marcus will be seniors next year at W.T White. Then my first group of E.D. Walker students will be juniors. I believe in education’s triangle — the school at the top of the triangle, families on one side and the community on the other.
What plans do you have so far for the school?
I’m excited about the construction finishing up and building on the success that they’ve had in the past. I spend time reading the history of the school and learning about the community. The plans I have are to grow the Collegiate Academy. I’m really excited about the Fine Arts Collegiate Academy. You get to see high school students blossom into young adults and watch all their talents come forth. I want to increase AP numbers on the comprehensive side.
What should neighbors know about you?
I’m passionate about education and have high expectations for myself and for those around me. I want to create productive citizens.
Photo by Danny Fulgencio
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
When I left Herbert Marcus to go to Walker, the community had bought into what we were doing there. We took it from a failing school to one on its way to a B, and it has sustained the success. I’m really proud of the work that we did there as a team and that it’s just continuing to grow.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve overcome?
Being a single mom and trying to balance my job. My daughter and I have overcome so many challenging things and grown together.
What were you like in high school?
I was pretty mischievous. I’ve always colored outside the lines. I’m from a really small town — Neosho, Missouri. I played tennis and basketball. I was a waitress at Pizza Hut. I raised, bottle-fed, then sold cattle. That’s how I bought my first car. I worked at the pool as a lifeguard in the summer. I was one of those underdogs. I love underdog stories. When people feel like I can’t do something, it fuels my fire to work at it even more.
What advice do you have for students?
The hardest thing is just staying positive. I know it can seem as if this is devastating, but the resilience and grit that they’re going to learn from this is going to make them stronger.
How can neighbors support you in your new role?
Some think that as their kids get older, schools don’t really need you. I want to build the PTA and business partners for the school. I have a three-tier business plan. People can come in and volunteer at big events, mentor or bring water for the teachers’ lounge. I want to build that sense of community. This is my dream job.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.